Cincinnati Symphony & Conservatory Announce 2021 Class of Diversity Fellows

Five musicians have been chosen for the program, which provides graduate-level academic study, career development, and performance opportunities to its members

(Photo courtesy of CCM)

The Ohio-based Cincinnati CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship was founded in 2015 with the mission of improving representation within American orchestras and eliminating barriers that may prevent a talented musician from achieving their full potential.

The program is open to violin, viola, cello, and double bass players coming from historically underrepresented groups in classical music, and involves a rigorous audition process.

The new fellows are:

  • Luis Celis Avila, Double Bass, Master of Music student
  • Tyler McKisson, Viola, Artist Diploma student
  • Luis Parra, Cello, Master of Music student
  • Samantha Powell, Cello, Artist Diploma student
  • Mwakudua Kuo San "Dua" WaNgure, Violin, Artist Diploma student


The selected fellows will receive private lessons, mock auditions, professional development and audition travel assistance, career development workshops, and mentorship from CSO musicians. They will also receive full tuition support, a $10,000 graduate stipend, a Graduate School Dean's Excellence Award of $3,000, and compensation of $8000 per season while performing with the CSO. Alumni have gone on to work with orchestras such as the Dallas, National, and Nashville Symphony Orchestras, as well as continuing as freelance artists and educators across the US.

"If this past year has taught us anything, it is the need to work even more diligently to address the systemic imbalance and inequity that has been inherent in classical music," said CSO President & CEO Jonathan Martin. "Our ultimate goals with the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship are twofold: to change the face of American orchestras to be more inclusive, and to be more reflective of our community so that we can more authentically serve the entirety of our community."

"If we are serious about promoting a more diverse and inclusive atmosphere within the arts, then conservatories and professional arts organizations have to work together to effect that change," said CCM Dean Stanley Romanstein. "Part of our role as educators is to connect 'potential' with 'opportunity.' The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship is designed to revolutionize the talent pipeline by opening the doors of the orchestral industry to a more diverse population of emerging professionals."