BFM Announces Fellows for New Conducting Institute

Guided by Artistic Director Marcelo Lehninger, Institute Modeled After Distinguished Programs at Tanglewood and Aspen

Talented Young Musicians to be in Residence for Month of Lessons, Rehearsals, and Podium Experience with Festival Orchestra.

For immediate release:
Bellingham, WA.—The Bellingham Festival of Music has announced the two young musicians chosen for the inaugural season of its new Conducting Institute. Spearheaded by Artistic Director Marcelo Lehninger, the program is modeled after the prestigious conducting academies at the Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival, which have graduated such distinguished conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado, Seiji Ozawa, Marin Alsop, James Levine, and Leonard Slatkin.

The Class of 2024 Fellows are Valery Saul and Ryan Dakota Farris

Portrait of Fellow Valery Saul holding a baton.

Valery Saul

Described as a “powerful presence on the podium” by Marin Alsop, Valery Saul has been recognized for her dynamic leadership and musicality. She was recently appointed the Associate Conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and also serves as a cover conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony, and Oregon Symphony. A native of Portland, OR and a graduate of Peabody Conservatory (M.M. 2022, Orchestral Conducting), she has been mentored by Alsop, Cristian Măcelaru, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, David Danzmayr, and George Manahan. She is also a professional opera singer.

Portrait of Fellow Ryan Dakota Farris.

Ryan Dakota Farris

Ryan Dakota Farris is one of the most exciting and in-demand conductors in the Pacific Northwest. Recent highlights include multiple guest conducting appearances with the Bainbridge Symphony, Octava Chamber Orchestra, and Issaquah Philharmonic. He is currently the assistant conductor of Lake Union Civic Orchestra, and in December he stepped in at the last minute to lead a set of holiday concerts with Seattle Festival Orchestra. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Washington where he serves as conductor of the campus Philharmonia and assistant conductor of the University of Washington Symphony.

Ryan was a proud student of the late maestro Michael Jinbo at the Pierre Monteux School and Music Festival in Maine for five summers. He has also studied with such notable conductors as Ludovic Morlot.

A cellist, Ryan has performed as principal cellist with the Boulder Opera Company, Seattle Philharmonic Strings, and the University of Washington Symphony.

Developing next generation of conductors

The Conducting Institute is the newest chapter in the Bellingham Festival of Music’s commitment to music education. It is also the realization of a dream of Maestro Lehninger, who as Boston Symphony Assistant and Associate Conductor, was inspired by the Tanglewood Music Center’s conductors seminar. He saw a rich opportunity for such a program on the West Coast.

“The orchestra is the conductor’s instrument,” he said. “But it’s hard for an emerging conductor to get podium time and the opportunity to network. The BFM Orchestra offers a wealth of knowledge with its musicians coming from all over the country. So there is this wonderful chance for our conductors to form long lasting friendships and professional relationships.”