VSO African American Fellowship Program
In Collaboration with Old Dominion University

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra has created a new African American Fellowship Program for four early-career orchestral string musicians to advance the goal of increased diversity of orchestral musicians nationwide. This initiative is a continuation of the VSO’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Fellows will perform as part of the VSO in over 100 services throughout eastern Virginia and engage in public school residencies and educational performances. Professional development opportunities, including private lessons and mentorship, will better equip Fellows to achieve in their careers as performers and educators. Through these activities, Fellows will receive 9 university-level course credits from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, according to each Fellow’s degree level: undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate course credit. For those Fellows at a post-graduate level, these 9 credits culminate in a Graduate Certificate in Music Performance.

“As an African American musician with the Virginia Symphony for over 38 years, I can say I am very excited about our fellowships for next season and look forward to wonderful music making with them.”

Beverly Kane Baker
Principal Viola, Virginia Symphony Orchestra

“As a person of color, it is of utmost importance to me that I am able to nurture the diverse artists of tomorrow. As our Symphony turns 100, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our future and build our arts community!”

Ismar Gomes
Cello, Virginia Symphony Orchestra

We are excited about the many ways this program will impact our field and our community.

  • The classical music industry benefits from investment in the pipeline for more aspiring African American musicians to receive the training they need to become successful professionals.
  • Local public school music students and their teachers benefit from building individual relationships with these accomplished African American musician role models and string instrument coaches.
  • The Fellows benefit from the experience of playing with a full-time professional symphony and the opportunity to receive regular coaching from VSO players.

Eligibility & Requirements

Application deadline: March 21, 2022
Live Auditions: April 4 & 5, 2022 at Old Dominion University

VSO Fellows will participate in the breadth of work performed by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, including:

  • Classics and Regional Classics
  • Pops
  • Peanut Butter & Jam family concerts
  • Young People’s Concerts
  • Outdoor community concerts
  • Chamber music
  • Small ensemble educational concerts for elementary school students
  • Mentorship and coaching for middle and high school students
  • Coaching college students


  • $16,000 stipend for orchestra services and education work performed
  • Free housing with host family
  • $200/month Health Insurance Stipend
  • Full scholarship to receive university-level course credit for Fellowship activities, conferred by Old Dominion University (culminating in a Graduate Certificate in Music Performance for those who qualify)


  • Graduate work or degree preferred. Exceptional performers with a bachelor’s degree also encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants must be string players
  • Candidates must self-identify as Black / African American

Application process:

  1. Submit 1-page Resume and 3 References (Be sure to include your name, instrument, phone number, address, and email).
  2. Submit Personal Statement (500 words) describing your interests in the program and in community service and civic engagement.
  3. Attend live audition in April 4-5, 2022 – if you have a barrier to traveling, please contact Dr. Christy Havens or Helen Martell for more information.
    (Once selected for the program, fellows will be required to submit school transcripts.)

Materials may be submitted by email to fellowship@virginiasymphony.org and by mail to:

Attn: Fellowship
Virginia Symphony Orchestra
150 Boush Street, Ste. 201
Norfolk, VA 23510

“I’m so pleased that we are starting this program. I look forward to identifying and encouraging talented young musicians— a win-win-win for them, for our orchestra and for our community.”

Vahn Armstrong
Concertmaster, Virginia Symphony Orchestra

“I am excited that the Virginia Symphony Orchestra will launch this program next season while we celebrate its 100th birthday, and I am looking forward to making music with these talented young African American musicians across the Hampton Roads as VSO continue it’s equity, diversity and inclusion commitment to the society.”

Yun Zhang,
Associate Concertmaster, Virginia Symphony Orchestra

Repertoire Lists

Please direct all questions to:

Dr. Christy Havens
(757) 213-1438

Helen Martell
(757) 213-1438

150 Boush St, Suite 201, Norfolk, VA 23510

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean when you say you have to “Self-identify as Black” to be eligible?

If you consider yourself to be part of the Black or African American community, this Fellowship is for you! We are not interested in making that determination for you, whether you are Black Hispanic, biracial, have any known African Black ancestry, etc. If being introduced as one of our African American Fellows resonates with you, we encourage you to apply!

How was the $16,000 stipend calculated?

The stipend was calculated based on the number of orchestra services and education activities the Fellows will participate in, using the rates in our Orchestra’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. We want to ensure that the Fellows are being paid as professionals at the same scale as Virginia Symphony Orchestra member musicians. But our Orchestra stays very busy, so we also want to be careful not to overload the Fellows’ schedules with a fulltime schedule so they can still fully engage in the Fellowship’s other professional development opportunities and continue to take auditions. We also include free housing and an insurance stipend to further support the Fellows in their year with us.

What is the housing like?

Host families in the Hampton Roads area will be selected for the fellows.  Hosts will provide a safe, positive environment from August 15 to May 31.  Fellows will have a private room with a window, bed, storage and easy access to a full bathroom.  Fellows can practice at these homes within an agreed upon time frame.   Fellows will have access to a kitchen and laundry facilities.  Please let us know about any pet allergies ahead of time.  Host families will not have the responsibility for cooking and cleaning for the Fellow and it is understood that Fellows should regularly clean up after themselves.

What if I can’t make the in-person audition?

We want to hear all interested candidates! Please let us know what your barriers are so we can help find a way to include you.

For example, Sphinx’s National Alliance for Audition Support offers audition grants to cover the cost of travel, accommodations, and incidentals for audition trips. Click here for details.

Video submissions are also acceptable – please contact us for more information!


Nathaniel Stampley starred as ‘Porgy’ in the Broadway National Tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. He has also starred on Broadway in CATS, The Color Purple, and The Lion King. West End (London): The Lion King. Broadway National Tours include Ragtime and Orpheus Returns. Other credits include Big Love, Fiorello! and Lost in the Stars, New York City Center's Encores!; Abyssinia, Pacific Overtures, Strike Up the Band, One Touch of Venus, Violet, Once on This Island, Big River, The Color Purple, Dreamgirls, Show Boat, Harriet: The Woman Called Moses, El Capitan, Girl Crazy, and The King and I. He has performed in The Weill Music Institute concert series, Musical Explorers and Link Up with the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall, and at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Other concerts include 92Y, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Elgin Symphony Orchestra (Naxos recording). El Paso Symphony Orchestra, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, West Michigan Symphony and Bernstein's Mass with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.


Ali EwoldtAli Ewoldt has appeared as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Cosette in Les Miserables (Broadway, National Tour), The King and I (Broadway, Lyric Opera of Chicago), and Maria in West Side Story (National Tour, International Tour). Ali’s concert work includes: Alice Tully Hall, NY Pops at Carnegie Hall, Houston Symphony, Kaohsiung Symphony and The Boston Pops. Ali has a BA in psychology from Yale University and is a proud Filipina-American. @aliewoldt


Teri Hansen has received International recognition for her crossover abilities as a singing actress from Opera to Broadway and concert stages around the world. Miss Hansen made her Broadway debut in The Boys From Syracuse and starred in London’s West End as ‘Magnolia’ in Hal Prince’s Tony award winning production of Show Boat. Most recently she starred in the National Tours of The Sound Of Music (Elsa) and the Tony Award winning An American In Paris. Miss Hansen starred in tours of The Music Man as ‘Marian Paroo’, ‘Guenevere’ in Camelot and as ‘Magnolia’ in Show Boat. Internationally recognized as an interpreter of Weill, Miss Hansen starred as “Rose” in the film version of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. Miss Hansen also toured for years with Marvin Hamlisch, appeared at the Lincoln Center singing Rodgers and Hammerstein, as well as regular appearances there as a part of the prestigious “Meet the Artist” series. Her solo CD “Into Your Arms…Love Songs of Richard Rodger’s” is available worldwide.



Sean MacLaughlin recently garnered critical acclaim across the country performing the role of Juan Peron in the Broadway National Tour of Evita. He has sung with countless symphony orchestras throughout the United States and Canada singing the music of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Rodgers. Broadway credits include Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera, Elton John’s Lestat, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Woman In White and Bombay Dreams. Other credits include Transport Groups Productions of The Audience, Requiem for William, and Baby: in Concert; South Pacific: In Concert at Carnegie Hall; Grand Hotel, Follies and More at Signature Theatre in DC; The Sondheim Celebration: Merrily We Roll Along and Chess at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; Frank Wildhorn’s Excalibur and Webber’s Sunset Boulevard. Film includes HBO’s Something the Lord Made and Walking Shadows.


VSO Guest Artist: Andrew von Oeyen

Hailed worldwide for his elegant and insightful interpretations, balanced artistry and brilliant technique, Andrew von Oeyen has established himself as one of the most captivating pianists of his generation.

Since his debut at age 16 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mr. von Oeyen has extended his interpretive voice to a broad spectrum of repertoire as both a soloist and recitalist. He has collaborated with such ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony, Utah Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Marseille, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Spoleto USA Orchestra, Slovenian Philharmonic and Slovak Philharmonic. As both soloist and conductor he has led concerti and orchestral works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel and Kurt Weill. On July 4, 2009, he performed at the U.S. Capitol with the National Symphony in “A Capitol Fourth,” reaching millions worldwide in the multi-award winning PBS live telecast.

‍Mr. von Oeyen has appeared in recital at Wigmore Hall and Barbican Hall in London, Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Boston’s Symphony Hall, Zürich’s Tonhalle, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, St. Petersburg’s Philharmonia, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, Royce Hall in Los Angeles, Herbst Theater in San Francisco, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Sala São Paulo, Teatro Olimpico in Rome, in Mexico City, Hanoi, Macau, and in every major concert hall of Japan and South Korea. Festival appearances include Aspen, Ravinia, Grant Park, Mainly Mozart, Saratoga, Schubertiade, Spoleto, Brevard, Grand Teton, Chautauqua and the Mariinsky’s “Stars of the White Nights.”

Mr. von Oeyen has recorded for Warner Classics since 2017. His albums under that label, including works for piano and orchestra by Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Gershwin and a disc including Debussy’s Fantaisie pour Piano et Orchestre, have been met with critical acclaim. Mr. von Oeyen has also recorded award-winning recital albums of Liszt, Debussy, and Stravinsky under the Delos label.

Mr. von Oeyen, of German and Dutch origin, was born in the U.S. He began his piano studies at age 5 and made his solo orchestral debut at age 10. An alumnus of Columbia University and graduate of The Juilliard School, where his principal teachers were Herbert Stessin and Jerome Lowenthal, he also worked with Alfred Brendel and Leon Fleisher. He won the prestigious Gilmore Young Artist Award in 1999 and also took First Prize in the Léni Fé Bland Foundation National Piano Competition in 2001. Mr. von Oeyen lives in Paris and Los Angeles.