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VSO African American Fellowship Program

Audition Information

Eligibility & Requirements

Now Accepting Applications for Trumpet, Clarinet, Violin, Viola, Cello, & Bass

Applications and video auditions due by March 21, 2024

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


  • $18,000 stipend for orchestra services and education work performed
  • Free housing
  • $3,500 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)

Please see the FAQs below for tips on how to make your video and how to upload it to YouTube.


  • Graduate work or degree preferred. Exceptional performers with a bachelor’s degree also encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants must be trumpet, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, or bass 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). Due March 21, 2024.
  2. Submit Personal Statement (500 words) describing your interests in the program and in community service and civic engagement. Due March 21, 2024.
  3. Submit unedited video recordings of the required excerpts and solos by March 21, 2024. All excerpts must be in one continuous unedited take. All solos must be in one continuous unedited take. You may submit one combined video containing your excerpts and your solos, or you may submit one video with all of your excerpts and one video with your solos. Submissions are only accepted via unlisted or public YouTube links.
    (Once selected for the program, fellows will be required to submit school transcripts.)

“The most memorable moment from this entire experience would be just spending time with the musicians. I think they’re wonderful people and I don’t think there’s any other orchestra like them”

Avery Robinson

2022/23 Fellows, Virginia Symphony Orchestra

“It was my distinct pleasure to be both teacher and colleague to our two bass Fellows, Avery Robinson and Zachary Smalls for the 2022/23 VSO season. Both were great players, enthusiastic and committed to their personal growth and the quality of their performances with the VSO. The Virginia Symphony bass section and orchestra overall were enhanced by their presence. I consider the first season of the VSO Fellowship to be a great success and am eagerly looking forward to meeting and working with our future Fellows!

Christopher White

Principal Bass, 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

How was the $18,000 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?

Fellows will be provided with a private room in a two-bedroom apartment on campus at Old Dominion University.

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 do I upload my audition video to YouTube?

Please click here for detailed instructions on how to upload your video to YouTube.

Remember that it must be “unlisted” or “public” for us to view it.

How should my audition video look and sound?

  • You do not need to book a concert hall or large space. Any well-lit, un-cluttered, quiet space like your house, church, practice room will do.
  • You do not need to hire a recording engineer, but an external microphone is recommended if you’re using your phone.
  • Position the camera so it captures all of you and all of your instrument. The camera should remain stationary (no zooming in/out, etc.).
  • Make sure “mirror mode” is turned off so that the image isn’t flipped (making it appear that you’re playing your instrument backwards).
  • Do not make edits to your performance.
  • Make sure to watch and listen to the video before sending it to us.