American Youth Symphony Announces New Executive Director

Following an extensive search led by the AYS Board of Directors, Tara Aesquivel was formally announced as the orchestra's next Executive Director at the opening night concert on September 22

AYS and Tara Aesquivel

At the start of the American Youth Symphony's 2018/19 Opening Night Concert, AYS Board Chair, Kevin Dretzka, announced the appointment of Tara Aesquivel as the organization's next Executive Director. The selection comes after a four-month search led by the AYS Board of Directors. Ms. Aesquivel’s term will begin Oct. 8, 2018.

Ms. Aesquivel, most recently the Executive Director for Invertigo Dance Theatre, brings a decade of experience in nonprofit arts administration to the role. During her tenure at Invertigo, she doubled the organization’s budget by increasing fundraising and program revenues and led a dramatic expansion of the popular Dancing Through Parkinson’s and youth education programs. The growth and resources Ms. Aesquivel secured contributed to Invertigo being awarded a highly competitive 2018 National Dance Project production grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts.  

The board is confident that AYS will continue expanding its success under Tara's leadership.

Kevin Dretzka, American Youth Symphony, Board Chair

Prior to Invertigo, Ms. Aesquivel was engaged with The Lukens Company as a fundraising and marketing consultant, raising more than $1 million for the LA Phil, Seattle Art Museum, and other nonprofit clients. Her professional experience includes positions with LA Opera, A Noise Within, Americans for the Arts, and Pittsburgh Opera. She has also served in volunteer leadership positions for Emerging Arts Leaders/LA, an organization providing professional development to early career arts professionals.

Ms. Aesquivel started her life in the arts as an oboist, then found her voice as a singer while studying music at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Her education continued in the Master of Arts Management program at Carnegie Mellon University and its Cultural Economics exchange program at the University of Bologna.  

Kevin Dretzka, Board Chair for AYS, says, “The board is confident that AYS will continue expanding its success under Tara’s leadership, given her experience as an Executive Director and musician.”  

“I’m so honored to have been asked to join the American Youth Symphony,“ says Ms. Aesquivel. “Classical music and supporting the development of young artists are both very important to me. I’m excited to combine these interests and work with the staff and board to elevate the next generation of artists and audience members for orchestral music.”

About AYS

Heralded as “the finest youth symphony on earth,” by KUSC’s Jim Svejda, the American Youth Symphony has been fulfilling its mission to inspire the future of classical music for over 50 years. Under the Musical Direction of Maestro Carlos Izcaray, AYS presents exceptional, innovative concerts based on a landmark Fellowship program for young professional musicians in high school through doctoral music programs. Competitively selected, the 100-piece orchestra represents extraordinary talent from all over the world. AYS concerts are offered for free or significantly reduced admission, out of a long-standing dedication to cultural equity and inclusion. By sharing these remarkable performances with the community, the American Youth Symphony remains committed to creating access and opportunity for everyone to experience the power and inspiration of classical music. 

For more information, please visit or call (310) 470-2332.

Source: American Youth Symphony