Project Summary

Support Juan Montoya's dream of completing his doctorate in conducting and saving and enriching the lives of underprivileged youth through music and the creation of youth orchestras.

Project Description

Juan Montoya is a first rate musician with a fine baton technique. His conducting also reveals knowledge of musical styles and a concern for structural form. He works easily with his orchestral personnel and has a gift for conducting and working with singers, notably in the area of opera. He is a good human being with big heart, which shows in his music-making and concern for helping young people in the future. As a boy in Colombia, South America, he faced drugs and gangs but playing in an orchestra saved him. Juan wants to provide that kind of opportunity for young people after he finishes his doctorate at the University of Arizona, Tucson. To learn more, go to

Vance George, Juan's mentor, is internationally recognized as one of America’s leading choral conductors. Under his direction the San Francisco Symphony Chorus has been hailed as one of the finest in the world. On their behalf he has accepted four Grammy awards for Best Performance of a Choral Work. He has conducted the San Francisco Symphony and Chorus in works ranging from Bach’s Mass in B Minor to Carmina Burana. TV and film credits include an Emmy for Sweeney Todd, 2002, and soundtracks for AmadeusThe Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Godfather III. Vance George’s work embodies the legacy of the great maestros he has known as protégé and colleague, especially Robert Shaw, Julius Herford, Margaret Hillis, Robert Page, Otto Werner-Mueller, and Mary Oyer. He has received great acclaim for his unique knowledge of musical styles, languages, vocal colors, and his synthesis of the choral-orchestral tradition.

This Campaign is raising $35,000 to assist our John Ernest Fellow, Juan Montoya, with tuition, fees, and living expenses at the University of Arizona, Tucson so he can finish his doctoral degree in conducting in a timely manner. Each semester costs a minimum of $10,000 and includes supplemental tuition ($3,000), books, musical materials, and supplies ($500), lodging and food ($5,000), insurances and fees ($500), and transportation ($1,000). In the first phase of this Campaign launched in August, 2016, thanks to many generous supporters, we achieved our urgent goal of raising $5,000 to cover Juan's immediate September 2016 expenses. Now we seek to raise the remaining $5,000 for the Fall 2016 Semester, as well as the combined $30,000 needed for the Spring 2017, Fall 2017, and Spring 2018 semesters. All contributions are payable to The John Ernest Foundation (TJEF) as steward for the John Ernest Fellows Fund and are tax-deductible as allowed by law (Tax ID 94-3170824). Your donation will be processed immediately and transferred to TJEF. 

The John Ernest Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to help individuals of merit turn a dream into a reality. When we select TJEF Fellows, our commitment is to surround them with support and mentors. We help them by planting ideas, imagining unorthodox relationships, nurturing their passion, devising plans and budgets, and raising the funds to advance their dreams – this is our mission in action. TJEF Fellows reflect a diversity and complexity of human backgrounds and come from most corners of the globe. Currently, we have the bandwidth to sponsor 40 Fellows, and among them are six rising high school seniors at the International Summer Science School in Heidelberg, as well as Fellows at a Neurosurgery Center in Gaza, a Secondary School in Burkina Faso, The Carter Center’s Syrian Global Mapping Project, an Irish artist exhibiting the paintings of the murdered women of Juarez, and of course, we are nurturing the dreams of Juan Montoya!

Please Join Us Today as we seek your participation in our work to support Juan Montoya's dreams and efforts to engage and save youth through music. Your tax-deductible gift in any amount helps ensure Juan finishes his conducting degree in a timely manner, and gives him the freedom to accept engagements that advance his career and the time to focus on the creation of youth orchestras. His ultimate goal with our collective investment is to help young people escape poverty and the lure of gangs and drugs. Please give as generously as you can!