CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship

A male CCM Diversity Fellow performs on the violin with members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

CCM and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) are now accepting applications for the 2021-23 Class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. Applications and pre-screen materials are due December 1.

Funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship is a prestigious performance fellowship program for exceptional string players.

The program provides an unparalleled two-year learning experience for graduate-level violin, viola, violoncello and double bass players coming from populations that are historically underrepresented in classical music.

Earn Your Graduate Degree

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship program will accept up to five qualifying Fellows per year, who will receive full tuition scholarship support while enrolled in a two-year Master of Music (MM) or Artist Diploma (AD) program at CCM. Fellows will receive guidance from CCM’s illustrious faculty members and have access to arts entrepreneurial seminars and other performing and non-performing community engagement activities.

Scholarship support totals $27,500 per year. Each Fellow will also receive a $10,000 per year graduate stipend and one-time Graduate School Dean’s Excellence Award of $3,000.


Perform with a Professional Orchestra

Fellows will perform an equivalent of five weeks per season with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Fellows will participate in a progressive sequence of concerts based on program difficulty, with additional work focused on community engagement and educational activities.

Each Fellow will receive compensation of $8,000 per season while performing with the CSO.

Fellows will be paired with CSO coach/mentors throughout the entire two-year fellowship. Mentors will provide intensive guidance in preparation and performance for fellowship weeks with the CSO, as well as overall mentorship throughout the two-year experience.

Fellows will also have access to orchestral audition and professional development travel stipends.


Participate in Additional Opportunities

Through a partnership with the Chautauqua Institution of New York, as many as five CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows can be selected annually to participate in an eight-week summer residency with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, with frequent performance opportunities in the Institution’s 4,000-seat open-air Amphitheater.

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows will be mentored by the orchestra’s professional musicians, who come to Chautauqua each summer from a variety of home ensembles around the world. Also, the Fellows will mentor minority student musicians in Chautauqua’s Music School Festival Orchestra, and offer performances designed to engage the broader Chautauqua community.

Chautauqua Diversity Fellows will be provided housing and receive a stipend to offset their expenses.


Program Eligibility

The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship is open to exceptional string players from underrepresented populations, which might include:

  • Members of historically underrepresented groups in both American orchestras and professional music conservatories (African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Alaska Natives (Inuit), Native Hawaiians, or other Pacific islanders), and/or
  • U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents representing the first generation to attend college and graduate school, and/or
  • U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents who have followed non-traditional pathways to college due to exceptional talent and motivation in the face of adversity, such as societal, economic, or academic disadvantages, and/or
  • U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents with a demonstrated commitment to including and applying diverse backgrounds and perspectives to learning, scholarship, service, and civic leadership, and/ or
  • Students who have participated in strong music programs in institutions such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) or through organizations who focus on diversity and inclusion in music.

Applicants must meet the admissions and audition standards for CCM’s MM and AD programs in violin, viola, cello or double bass. Finalists will be brought back to Cincinnati for a second audition with CSO musicians, thanks to the grant funding.


Important Dates

CCM and the CSO are now accepting applications for the 2021-23 class of Fellows. The application deadline is December 1.

Live auditions with CCM faculty will be held in January and February 2021. Finalists will then audition for the CSO in March.


Repertoire For Finalist Auditions with the CSO


CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Alum Ian Saunders on "Arts Engines" with Aaron Dworkin

“Music is the way that we interact with the world; it’s an interface. It gives us voice to how we experience the world. We all love, we all live, we all struggle.” Sought after bassist Ian Saunders speaks to the power of music.


Information Request

To receive additional information about the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship, please fill out the following form:


A complete application includes an online application, transcript(s), letters of recommendation, 500-word personal statement and a live interview at CCM.

Pre-screening is required for certain instruments. Learn more about the CCM application process.