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(Image courtesy: Jessica Rivero Altarriba)

Utah Symphony Appoints New Assistant Conductor

The Cuban-born conductor Jessica Rivero Altarriba will assume the role as of September 2024


Following the Utah Symphony’s nationwide search for its Assistant Conductor, Jessica Rivero Altarriba was selected by an audition and interview panel comprising Symphony musicians and staff members.

Altarriba will succeed Matthew Straw, who will have completed a successful year-long tenure as the Symphony’s Associate Conductor at the end of the current season and will begin his new role as Assistant Conductor of France’s Strasbourg National Opera.

Recognized by Utah Symphony’s audition panel for “her impressive technical expertise, musicianship, and magnetism on the podium, as well as her ability to communicate and connect with audiences,” Altarriba is also a Taki Alsop Fellowship Award Recipient 2024-2026 and a Freeman Conducting Fellow with the Chicago Sinfonietta

Currently completing her 2023/24 season as the New Jersey Symphony’s first-ever Colton Conducting Fellow, Altarriba has previously served as guest conductor of the Esteban Salas Symphony Orchestra, Virtuous Mediterrani Orchestra, Lüneburg Symphoniker, plus as Music Director of the University of the Arts Band, and the Eastern Symphony Orchestra, among others.

A conducting graduate from the Arts University in Havana in 2018, Altarriba is concurrently pursuing her Master's in Orchestral Conducting studying with Marin Alsop at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, where she is also a recipient of its Excellence in Music Leadership Fellowship.

Her upcoming engagements include performances with the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg, New Jersey Symphony, Peabody Symphony, NOI Festival Orchestra, Ravinia Festival, and the Colorado Summer Festival. 

In her new role with the Utah Symphony, Altarriba will lead the ensemble’s various outreach performances, plus all of its Family Concert Series, among other concerts throughout Utah. 

Additionally, she will be the cover conductor for the orchestra’s Masterworks Series, and become a mentor in the Utah Symphony’s “Conductors in the Classroom” in-school program — developing an ongoing relationship with Cottonwood High School music students throughout the 2024/25 season and academic school year. 

Altarriba’s residency with Cottonwood High School will build upon the many other extensive music education programs offered by the Utah Symphony/Utah Opera — which collectively serve 100,000 students and teachers annually.

“Auditions are always a challenge, but from the first notes with the Utah Symphony, I was amazed by the sound the orchestra created, the high level of music making, and the spirit of collaboration,” Altarriba said in the press release. “This is an orchestra that makes music together in such a natural way and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the fabric of such an extraordinary ensemble and arts-loving community.”


Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera comprises 87 full-time symphony musicians and five opera Resident Artists, who perform for over 400,000 Utah citizens in more than 175 symphonic, opera, and chamber concerts. Having embarked on seven international tours and performed in numerous prestigious venues, the orchestra also celebrates a discography of more than 100 recordings.

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