Grant Park Music Festival String Fellows

Alba Layana Izurieta and Janani Sivakumar, violins; Harper Randolph, viola; Gabriel Hightower, cello


  • To be announced

Alba Layana Izurieta is a violin student from Ecuador born and raised in a multigenerational musical household. She is currently pursuing her Master of Music in Strings Performance at Northwestern University under Desiree Ruhstrat. She earned her undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University, where she studied with Espen Lilleslåtten. She is currently an Associate Member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. She recently performed as concertmaster for the recording ensemble in the independent film Down Below by Observatory Media and for Humperdinck’s opera Hansel and Gretel under The Metropolitan Opera conductor Patrick Furrer at Northwestern University. In 2021, she debuted on American television as a guest artist in the Louisiana Public Broadcasting educational puppet show Ziggy’s Arts Adventures. In 2019, she appeared on Mexican television TVeo Canal Regional and TV Guanajuato Canal 8 as a member of the Orchestra of the Americas. Layana was a soloist with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Ecuador and Orquesta Sinfónica de Guayaquil from 2012-19. She served as a section violinist from 2017 through 2018. To honor the musical legacy of her cultural heritage, she performed Ecuadorian, Latin American, and other underrepresented music with her mother and sister on the piano in several music venues in Ecuador.

A native of Illinois, violinist Janani Sivakumar is currently a co-concertmaster of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. Previously, she was a section violinist at the Carmel Symphony Orchestra and a substitute violinist at the New World Symphony. Janani holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in violin performance from Indiana University, where she was a Barbara and David Jacobs Scholar and concertmaster of the Conductors’ Orchestra.

Janani’s primary teachers include Simin Ganatra, Grigory Kalinovsky, Bernardo Arias, and Clara Takarabe. She has performed in masterclasses for Yo-Yo Ma, Rachel Barton-Pine, and Melissa White and attended notable festivals, including the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and the National Orchestral Institute and Festival.

In addition to her musical pursuits, Janani earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and received a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship to study Mandarin Chinese at Indiana University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and playing chess.

Harper Randolph first encountered the viola at age five through the D.C. Youth Orchestra Program in her hometown of Washington, D.C. She has since garnered numerous awards in competitions, including Third Prize in the 2022 Sphinx Competition and First Prize in the 2019 NYU Concerto Competition. Harper currently serves as an African American Orchestra Fellow with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She has performed at acclaimed venues, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the White House, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and Palffy Palace in Prague, Czech Republic. Harper recently completed a Specialist in Music degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance and holds a Bachelor and Master of Music from New York University. Her teachers include Stephanie Baer, Karen Ritscher, and Caroline Coade.

Cellist Gabriel Hightower is an active orchestral and chamber musician and educator based in Columbia, Maryland. Gabriel began playing the cello at the age of 7 and started taking lessons at the age of 14. Gabriel holds degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park (B.M.) and Carnegie Mellon University (MM). Gabriel’s previous teachers include Dr. Benjamin Myers, Dr. Eric Kutz (a member of the Grant Park Orchestra), Anne Martindale Williams, and David Premo. In May 2021, he was awarded the Iris Artist Fellowship and worked with members of the Iris Collective, Michael Stern, and the Memphis Music Initiative.

Gabriel has performed with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Delaware Symphony
Orchestra, National Philharmonic, Orchestral Lumos, National Repertory Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, and the Igmar Thomas Revive Big Band. Gabriel has performed in masterclasses for Norman Fischer, Amit Peled, Zlatomir Fung, members of the St. Lawrence String Quartet and the Harlem String Quartet. He has also participated in music festivals, such as the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Colorado, Brevard Summer Music Festival, and Sphinx Performance Academy. When he’s not performing, you can find Gabriel at Howard Community College, where he teaches the Cello Ensemble.

About the Dame Myra Hess Concerts

The concerts are generously sponsored by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council and by individual donors.

Upcoming Performances

Stay connected with us on social
Join our mailing list and stay up to date.