The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra have announced the first cohort of Diversity Fellows. The fellows program, made possible by a $900,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks to increase diversity in America’s leading orchestras. Only 4 percent of the members of America’s professional orchestra musicians are Black or Latino, according to the League of American Orchestras.
More than 100 musicians auditioned to become fellows. The five fellows were then selected from a group of 12 finalists. The fellows will participate in a two-year program where they will be taught by faculty at the University of Cincinnati, be mentored by musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and participate in performances by the orchestra. Each fellow will pay no tuition and receive a $10,000 annual stipend from the university. They will perform in five concerts and receive an additional $8,000 from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Peter Landgren, dean of the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, stated that “we have selected a cohort of astonishingly talented musicians. Working in close cooperation with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, we will prepare these Fellows for long and fruitful artistic careers, while challenging the status quo in our industry.”
Among the five fellows are two African Americans.
Blake-Anthony Johnson is a native of Atlanta. He began play cello at the age of 12 and was self-taught until the age of 18. Johnson is a graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and received a master’s degree through study with musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra. He has also studied at the Manhattan School of Music in New York.
Maurice Todd is a native of Louisville, Kentucky. He is currently a bassist for the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. Todd holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. As a graduate assistant at the university, Todd received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Graduate School of the University of Cincinnati.