Musician Fellowship Program


Memphis Symphony Orchestra
The University of Memphis
Newport Hall
610 Goodman Street
Memphis, TN 38152 

(901) 537-2500

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A big, bold vision was set in place by the Circle of Friends of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra

             – to become an instrument of intentional inclusion through the performing arts -

Over time The Circle of Friends' efforts have helped bring vibrancy to the MSO by ushering inclusivity into the audience and patron bases, as well as adding some financial sustainability from untapped revenue streams. The members’ determination was unwavering and resulted in diversity being embedded as a core value throughout the fabric of the organization. The mission, however, was not yet finished.  Ultimately seven of the Circle’s former chairs became the Trustees to guide the completion of their initiative’s vision to address the demographic makeup of orchestra itself.  Simultaneously the Music Director, Board of Directors, musician leadership and senior staff agreed to an evolutionary step - EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion) as core organizational values. They knew for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra to be truly recognized as the community’s symphony, it must authentically reflect the citizens it serves.

The Circle initiated a plan. The outcome is THE MUSICIAN FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM which is designed to attract the best and the brightest musicians, who are engaged in the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis or have completed such a degree from other higher education institutions and conservatories. Candidates would apply to for a 10-month fellowship (with option to complete a second 10-months) as a professional growth opportunity. The fellowship would be a springboard for aspiring musicians who have a deep sense of community and want to explore how to tie this belief to the mission of any orchestra. The MSO will benefit as first preference would be given to a qualified person of color and others who traditionally have not had access to a professional role in a symphony.  The recipients will become “Fellows” and awarded a paid open seat in the orchestra.

The Fellows will participate in a leadership-mentorship component designed by the team. The training would offer personal and professional development, experiential learning about different staff responsibilities, patron and community engagement, all the while working as a per service member of the orchestra during the tenure. The program would begin with a minimum of four Fellows to build comradery. These Fellows would have been attracted to this “gap year” to enhance their resume, boost confidence and career experiences before securing assignment with the MSO or another symphony orchestra. 

Through THE MUSICIAN FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM, MSO will become a “uniquely Memphis kind of community-based orchestra” that is nationally known as the “training ground” for young musicians who desired a full immersion into the inner workings of symphony life before they begin permanent employment. The Fellows, in turn, would gain– how all parts fit together to make a great 21st symphony orchestra thrive in its community.


Qualifications and Roles of a Fellow

Seeking or have achieved a Degree in Orchestral Music from the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis or post-graduate degree with a Performance Certificate

Interest in pursuit of an orchestral career as a classical musician and a teaching artist

Desire to learn all aspects of the inner workings of a symphony organization, by:

            - serving as a per-service musician in the orchestra for concerts

            - shadowing staff/management, board and committees to learn their roles

            - participating in patron and community engagement activities

            - coaching young musicians in the Memphis Youth Symphony

Engage in the leadership-mentorship aspect of the program

            - Fellow would be matched with a (paid) mentor from the orchestra

            - Clusters of Circle members (4-6) would be assigned as (volunteer) community mentors to give exposure into different aspects of community life and the discovery of local amenities (i.e. riverfront, Green Line, parks, restaurants, sports events, theaters, museums, concerts)

            - Participation in personal growth workshops (i.e. assessing leadership style, financial planning, public speaking, interviewing, health &wellness)

            - Attendance at bi-monthly BACH SUPPER with a speaker from the Circle or patron base

            - Serve as an ambassador to speak to groups about the power of music and MSO’s leadership in fostering the cultural center’s essential role in the health and well-being of the community. 

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Administration (901) 537-2500
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Administration (901) 537-2500
Fax (901) 537-2550

Memphis Symphony Orchestra
The University of Memphis
610 Goodman Street Memphis, TN 38152 | MAP IT


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