CHICAGO — A Chicago-area music conductor is breaking boundaries becoming one of few Latinas in Illinois to lead a music program.

Daniella Valdez was recently honored by the ‘Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra’ with the ‘Women In Music’ Award. 

Valdez teaches music at Maine West High School and serves as a conductor for the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Her love of music started early on.  She was in elementary school when she caught the tunes of a school orchestra and never looked back. 

Valdez says, “I remember hearing them in the hallway …and I came home saying that I wanted to play the violin….that’s what I wanted to do.”

It’s estimated that less than ten percent of conductors are Latinos but fewer are Latinas. 

Valdez says, that’s changing…we also now see more Latino composers.  It’s exciting!”

Valdez continues her work with different organizations on Diversity Equity and Inclusion programs. 

Next year – she’ll be conducting a group of CPS students and Chicago Civic Opera musicians to perform at Orchestra Hall.