A New Sound

Orchestra director brings passion to performances, charity work


The orchestra welcomed a new director to lead their ensemble this year with the addition of teacher and conductor Rachel Montellano.

From performing at new venues to participating in charity work, Montellano has stepped in with evident passion and dedication to make the orchestra stronger.

Before starting at El Dorado, Montellano accumulated numerous achievements. She attended the University of Texas at El Paso and received a degree in music but decided to continue her studies and received her masters in conduction performance.

After finishing school at UTEP, she had her first job directing the orchestra at Bowie High School.

A few years later, she decided to work with the Department of Homeland Security. After suffering from an injury, she could not continue her job, so she decided to come back to El Paso to take care of her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer.

Montellano lost her mother in a battle against cancer, which persuaded her to become a brain cancer advocate and the founder of the El Paso chapter of the Head for the Cure Foundation.

My mom died from brain cancer, and since then I always wanted to try and do more for medicine and do more to find a cure.”

— Rachel Montellano

In addition, Montellano is also an advocate for helping animals. She decided to begin fostering animals who were in need of a home. Just like music, she holds a great love for animals.

She hopes to open her own non-profit organization for animals soon.

“I help all homeless animals. I try to rescue them off the streets, I literally will go out there, sit there and try to rescue animals,” Montellano said. “I’ll save them from the animal shelter and foster them at home. ”

Since coming back to El Paso, she decided to apply at Hurshel Antwine Elementary as both the band and orchestra teacher.  In 2005, Montellano was given the option to transfer to Paso del Norte. In 2010, she auditioned and received a fellowship at the prestigious Juilliard School.

This gave her the opportunity to go to New York every summer and get private lessons as well as train in conducting. Montellano decided to apply for the position as orchestra director at El Dorado after working at Paso Del Norte for 13 years.

“As a musician, I cannot lie, I wanted to be challenged as teacher, I needed some new challenges. The music is harder, longer and better. I wanted to challenge myself to teach that,” Montellano said.

As a musician, I cannot lie, I wanted to be challenged as a teacher, I needed some new challenges. The music is harder, longer and better. I wanted to challenge myself to teach that.”

— Rachel Montellano

Several orchestra students have stated that Montellano has made a positive impact in their lives. Montellano pushes them to their full potential, challenging the students with difficult songs and making students break away from their comfort zones.

“She makes us practice, always making sure we take our instruments home everyday,” sophomore Sahid Palacios said. “She pushes us to try out for all region, state and solo and ensemble. She’s been more strict with us and it helps make us become better players.”

Although Montellano has a busy schedule, for instance, being apart of the Roswell symphony, the Juarez symphony, and the Las Cruces symphony, she still manages to put her full potential into doing what is best for the orchestra.