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Five outstanding string players have been selected for the inaugural year of the groundbreaking CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship.

Following a rigorous application and audition process, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have selected five outstanding string musicians for the inaugural class of CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows. Born out of a mutual desire to make American orchestras more inclusive, this groundbreaking fellowship program is made possible by a generous $900,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The inaugural CSO/CCM Diversity Fellows are: Emilio Carlo, 21 (viola); Diana Flores, 26 (cello); Blake-Anthony Johnson, 25 (cello); Vijeta Sathyaraj, 27 (violin); and Maurice Todd, 37 (double bass). The Fellows were selected through a rigorous series of auditions, which saw more than 100 talented musicians audition for CCM faculty members. Twelve string players were invited back to Cincinnati for a final round of auditions for CSO musicians on March 14, 2016.



“For this inaugural class, we have selected a cohort of astonishingly talented musicians, who come to us from a wide variety of backgrounds,” said CCM Dean Peter Landgren. “Our Fellows hail from New York, Georgia, Kentucky, Costa Rica and Hong Kong, and represent the future of American orchestras. Working in close collaboration with our partners at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, we will prepare these Fellows for long and fruitful artistic careers, while challenging the status quo of our industry.”

With this innovative Fellowship program, CCM and the CSO are providing new opportunities for underrepresented musicians, while simultaneously fostering a more inclusive environment in the world of professional orchestras. According to the League of American Orchestras, just over four percent of orchestra musicians are African American or Latino. With that statistic in mind, the CSO and CCM want to foster an environment that promotes greater diversity on the stages of American orchestras. The program’s tagline – Bravos Without Barriers – gets to the heart of this mission.

This new two-year program, that is already garnering attention among leaders throughout the music world, consists of frequent performances with the CSO, focused mentorship by professional CSO musicians, and simultaneous instruction by CCM’s illustrious faculty.

“The level of musicianship on display during our final round of auditions is a testament to the merit of this program,” said CSO President Trey Devey. “Through our partnership with CCM and with the extraordinary support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we can provide a truly transformative experience for these exceptional performers at a crucial time in their careers. We look forward to welcoming our inaugural Fellows to Cincinnati this fall and we can’t wait to share their talents with the Greater Cincinnati community.”


Driven by a mutual desire to create a more inclusive environment in the orchestral industry, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) have embarked on the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Program. The Fellowship provides an opportunity for graduate level musicians from underrepresented populations to participate in a specialized two-year program with the aim of filling the pre-professional gap by moving the needle of diversity in American symphony orchestras on a national scale. This educational opportunity consists of frequent performances with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, focused mentorship by professional musicians, and simultaneous enrollment in a Master of Music (MM) or Artist Diploma (AD) degree program. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funds the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship Program.

Program Components:

  • Enrollment in CCM as full-time MM or AD student with full tuition scholarship.

  • Perform the equivalent of five weeks per season in a progressive sequence of concerts with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

  • Community engagement opportunities.

  • CSO musician mentors to provide intensive guidance in preparation and performance as well as overall mentorship.

  • Eight monthly career development seminars to be held each year of the Fellowship.

  • Annual mock audition seminars.

In addition to an unparalleled training experience each Fellow receives significant financial support:

  • Full scholarship tuition and fees for CCM coverage totaling $27,500 per year.

  • $10,000 per year as a Fellowship stipend/graduate assistantship.

  • One-time Graduate Dean’s Excellence Award of $3,000.

  • $8,000 compensation for services with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.


Program eligibility includes string players coming from populations that are historically underrepresented in classical music, first-generation college students, those who have followed non-traditional pathways to college and have demonstrated a commitment to including and applying diverse background and perspectives to learning, scholarship, service and civic leadership.  String musicians who meet the admissions standards of CCM and are accepted into the program by CSO musicians are flown to Cincinnati for the final Fellowship audition.

Applications for the 2017-2018 class opens open on August 1, 2016.


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