The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected four outstanding musicians for the next class of the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship. Born out of a mutual desire to make American orchestras more inclusive, this groundbreaking fellowship program launched in 2015 with a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
In addition, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has approved a generous renewal grant of $850,000, funding two additional classes of Fellows, through June 2021. This ensures the program will continue to develop, as the CSO and CCM strengthen different components and recruit highly qualified candidates who will achieve audition success as they embark on their careers, thus realizing the program’s mission to change the face of American orchestras. The Foundation’s continued support allows the Orchestra and University to create deep connections between students, as well as an alumni network that will impact these graduate-level musicians for years to come.
The next class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows are Anita Graef, 22 (cello); Ian Saunders, 30 (double bass); Weiyi Shao, 24 (violin); and Dan Wang, 31 (viola). These four exceptional string players will officially join the two-year fellowship program in August 2017, bringing the total number of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows to eight for the 2017–18 academic year and performance season. The inaugural class of Diversity Fellows — comprised of Emilio Carlo, Diana Flores, Vijeta Sathyaraj and Maurice Todd — will complete the second year of the program in April 2018. An additional Fellow from the inaugural class, Blake-Anthony Johnson, just accepted a cello position with the New World Symphony in Miami, Florida, and credits the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship with the next step in his professional career:
“As a Fellow I received valuable guidance and support from not only my peers participating in the Fellowship but also from the CSO and CCM conductors, musicians and administrative staff members. The resources and opportunities available to me as a Fellow were crucial in my musical career development, and I couldn't be happier to be a part of this great network of people who became family in such short time.”
The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Program is open to exceptional violin, viola, cello and double bass players coming from populations that are historically underrepresented in classical music. The program utilizes a broad definition of diversity that encompasses race and culture while also including underrepresented populations like first-generation college students and individuals who took non-traditional pathways to higher education. The program’s tagline — “Bravos Without Barriers” — gets to the heart of its mission: eliminating obstacles that can prevent extraordinary musicians from achieving their full potential.
“Thanks to the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Diversity Fellowship Program allows us to provide outstanding early-career musicians with access to the combined resources and expertise of the CSO and CCM,” said CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung. “The result is an unparalleled experience-based education that will empower these musicians and prepare them to succeed in their chosen fields. Our hope is that this program will also inspire the next generation of diverse young artists. This will allow us to continue making American orchestras better reflect the diversity of their communities.”