Dallas Symphony Orchestra Announces First Class of Diversity Fellows

Keeon Guzman, cello

Pedro Mendez, viola

Jaquain Sloan, bassoon

Program Provides Performance, Education and Mentorship Opportunities for Musicians of Underrepresented Backgrounds

Fellows will Begin in the 2023/24 DSO Season

Dallas, Texas (June 28, 2023) – The Dallas Symphony Orchestra today announced the first class of the new Diversity Fellowship Program within the DSO. The Fellows are Keeon Guzman, cello; Pedro Mendez, viola; and Jaquain Sloan, bassoon.

The program provides performance, education and mentorship opportunities for up to three orchestral musicians from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. Fellows will take part in a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum, and will be paid for a total of 25 weeks of orchestral performance and will participate in mock auditions, masterclasses, private lessons, teaching and chamber music. Each Fellow will also be assigned a personal Mentor, who will assist, guide and empower them as they navigate audition preparation and career training.

“We are thrilled to welcome these talented musicians as the first class of Fellows,” said Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony. “We look forward to their fellowship with the DSO and assisting them as they launch their orchestral careers.”


Keeon Guzman, cello
Keeon Guzman of Anchorage, Alaska, recently completed his Master’s studies with high distinction at the Mozarteum University Salzburg, studying with Enrico Bronzi. Previously, Guzman obtained a Bachelor’s degree and a Performance Diploma at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music under the tutelage of Eric Kim and Brandon Vamos. He has furthered his studies at the Pacific Music Festival, Music Master Course Japan Yokohama, Domaine Forget Music Festival and the National Repertory Orchestra.

Pedro Mendez, viola
Pedro Mendez is a Venezuelan violist and violinist who began his musical studies in El Sistema. He obtained a minor degree in Violin Performance from the Vicente Emilio Sojo Conservatory in 2015 and concurrently studied at Academia Latinoamericana de Violín under the guidance of Luis Miguel Gonzalez and José Francisco del Castillo. In 2019, he made a full-time transition to viola studies and received a scholarship at Roosevelt University, where he pursued an undergraduate degree in Viola Performance studying with Roland and Almita Vamos and Li Kuo Chang. In 2022, he was appointed as Assistant Principal Viola at the Illinois Philharmonic and Co-Principal Viola at the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Additionally, he holds the position of Project Inclusion Viola Fellow at the Chicago Sinfonietta. Mendez is also a member of the Soto String Quartet serving as the violist.

Jaquain Sloan, bassoon
A native of Lenoir, North Carolina, Jaquain Sloan holds a Bachelor of Music in Bassoon Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University where he studied with Phillip Kolker and a Master of Music and a Performers Certificate from the University of Southern California as a student of Shawn Mouser. He has received recognition from organizations such as the Sphinx Organization, Aspen Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, and most recently, he has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as an African-American Fellow. Jaquain is also a singer who can be heard raising a voice for social justice with GRAMMY®-nominated choral ensemble Tonality, or with The L.A Choral Lab, both based in Los Angeles. Sloan has done background vocal work with artists such as Björk, Phil Collins, Sigur Rós and the Kronos Quartet.


The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, under the leadership of Music Director Fabio Luisi, presents more than 150 orchestra concerts at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, one of the world’s top-rated concert halls. As the largest performing arts organization in the Southwest, the DSO is committed to inspiring the broadest possible audience with distinctive classical programs, inventive pops concerts and innovative multi-media presentations. As part of its commitment to the community, the orchestra reaches more than 243,000 adults and children annually through performances, educational programs and community outreach initiatives. The orchestra offers more than 200 outdoor chamber concerts in neighborhoods throughout Dallas each year, as well as continuing online music lessons to more than 700 students as part of its Young Strings and Young Musicians programs.

The Dallas Symphony has used digital and broadcast media to share music beyond its geographic boundaries and has become a leader among American orchestras in digital distribution. The DSO captures and streams concert performances for distribution online through its Next Stage Digital Concert Series, Presented by PNC Bank. Programs are available on the DSO’s website at watch.dallassymphony.org.

The DSO has a tradition dating back to 1900 and is a cornerstone of the unique, 118-acre Arts District in Downtown Dallas that is home to multiple performing arts venues, museums and parks – the largest district of its kind in the nation. The DSO is supported, in part, by funds from the Office of Arts & Culture, City of Dallas.

Media Contact:

Denise McGovern, d.mcgovern@dalsym.com, 214.718.7094