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A photo of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, in performance at Cincinnati Music Hall.

CCM and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Establish Diversity Fellowship Program for Exceptional String Players

The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) are honored to announce the two institutions are the combined recipient of a $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This grant will be used to pilot a groundbreaking collaborative fellowship program aimed at developing young, graduate-level musicians from underrepresented populations and preparing them for the professional orchestra world.

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Program responds to a need among American orchestras and professional music conservatories, which face issues of underrepresentation, and is driven by the mutual desire of the CSO and CCM to foster a more inclusive environment in the orchestral industry. Selected graduate school Fellows from underrepresented populations will participate in a specialized two-year program that is already garnering attention among leaders throughout the music world. This educational opportunity will consist of frequent performances with the CSO, focused mentorship by professional CSO musicians, and simultaneous enrollment in a master’s or artist diploma degree program at CCM where fellows will be guided by CCM’s illustrious faculty.

“We looked at the data and saw that only four percent of American orchestra musicians were African-American or Latino, a figure that is also reflected in conservatory settings,” said Trey Devey, CSO President. “The CSO and CCM felt it essential to address this issue head-on and provide life-changing experiences within a highly creative and multidisciplinary artistic environment for graduate-level musicians across the country.”

“There are many fine programs designed to address underrepresentation in our industry, but none of those experiences include both a major American symphony orchestra and a major conservatory. Together, CCM and the CSO will provide unparalleled experiential learning opportunities for young musicians on the verge of a professional career,” said CCM Dean Peter Landgren.

“CCM and the CSO are perfectly positioned for this initiative. Our organizations’ recent partnership with the Cincinnati World Piano Competition, our joint Conducting Fellowship, as well as the large number of CSO musicians who are CCM alumni and serve as CCM faculty, speak to the deep connections between our two institutions. As the birthplace of cooperative education, the University of Cincinnati also serves as the perfect backdrop for this new approach to professional mentorship for musicians,” said Mr. Landgren.

How the Fellowship Works

The four-year pilot program, as funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will graduate two classes of up to five Fellows each through June 2019. Fellows will consist of graduate level string musicians who are simultaneously enrolled in CCM’s master’s or artist diploma degree programs. Each class of Fellows will include up to two violins, and one each of viola, cello and double bass. They will perform five weeks per season with the CSO in a progressive sequence of concert weeks based on program difficulty, with one week focused on community engagement and educational activities.

These Fellows will be provided with a unique support system built on intensive professional mentorship. In addition to the community formed with other Fellows, they will receive focused mentorship by CSO musicians, which includes advance coaching sessions prior to a rehearsal cycle, ongoing stand partner coaching throughout rehearsal weeks and post-performance feedback. There will also be structured time for non-performance related mentorship such as career counseling and audition preparation.

Additionally, Fellows will receive a CCM Fellowship Stipend and one time Graduate Dean’s Excellence Award, with opportunities for additional performing and non-performing community engagement activities through CCM, eight career development seminars including mock auditions and full tuition scholarships.

Application procedures and deadlines are available at ccm.uc.edu/chance2perform.

The Anticipated Impact

It is anticipated this new fellowship opportunity will attract talented young musicians from throughout the nation.

“I think I speak for all the musicians of the CSO, and particularly those of us who will be deeply involved in mentoring, that in seeking to identify and prepare more underrepresented musicians for orchestral auditions, we will be helping make American orchestras richer,” said Stacey Woolley, CSO violinist. “There is such a varied career path available to musicians in every facet of professional music, and fostering this awareness with the next generation will continue to serve orchestras and communities for decades to come.”

An alumnus of CCM, Landgren has a first-hand understanding of the life changing opportunities this new initiative will provide.

“As a student at CCM, I had the rare privilege of performing as an extra musician with the CSO. That transformative learning experience led to my 29-year career as a musician with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,” Landgren explained. “When I returned to CCM as the Dean, developing a program to provide similar opportunities for tomorrow’s professional musicians became a driving priority.”

Both the CSO and CCM extend sincere gratitude to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its extraordinary impact in making this Diversity Fellowship Program a reality.

“Without the extraordinary support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this groundbreaking new fellowship program simply wouldn’t be possible,” said Mr. Devey. “It advances the Orchestra’s already strong and award winning commitment to more inclusiveness, a goal we share with the community we serve.”  

“This generous gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will enhance the already world-class UC College-Conservatory of Music and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra by enabling a unique partnership between two great Cincinnati institutions,” said UC Foundation President Rodney Grabowski. “The collaboration is a great example of the university’s commitment to inclusion initiatives, focus on the cooperative education and dedication to the performing arts.”

Below, watch CCM Dean Peter Landgren and CSO President Trey Devey discuss the Diversity Fellowship initiative at the 2016 SphinxCon:

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