VSO African American Fellowship Program
In Collaboration with Old Dominion University
Application Deadline: Feb. 10, 2023
Live Auditions: Mar. 6, 2023
The Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s African American Fellowship Program for up to 4 early-career orchestral string musicians is intended 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 12 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 12 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.”
“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!”
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.
Meet the 2022 Fellows
Check out our Mid-season interviews with our recipients
Eligibility & Requirements
Applications due via email or mail: Feb. 10, 2023
Live Auditions: Mar. 6, 2023
VSO Fellows will participate in the breadth of work performed by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, including:
- Classics and Regional Classics
- 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
- $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
- Submit 1-page Resume and 3 References (Be sure to include your name, instrument, phone number, address, and email).
- Submit Personal Statement (500 words) describing your interests in the program and in community service and civic engagement.
- Attend live audition on March 6, 2023 in Norfolk, Va. at Old Dominion University. If you have a barrier to traveling, please contact Dr. Christy Havens or Helen Martell for more information. We will also accept unedited video recordings of the required excerpts, which will be due by March 3, 2023.
(Once selected for the program, fellows will be required to submit school transcripts.)
Materials may be submitted by email to email@example.com and by mail to:
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.”
“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.”
Please direct all questions to:
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?
Fellows will be provided with a private room in a two-bedroom apartment on campus at Old Dominion University.
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.
We will also accept unedited video recordings of the required excerpts, which will be due by Friday, March 3rd, 2023.