Sunday, March 9, 2014

Chicago Sinfonietta Announces Launch of Project Inclusion Conducting Fellows

Nation’s Most Diverse Orchestra Expands Ground-Breaking Program to
Include Conductors on the Verge of Professional Careers

CHICAGO (March 4, 2014) – The Chicago Sinfonietta today announced the launch of the Project Inclusion Conducting Fellowship (PICF), a program that aims to foster the development of conductors of diverse backgrounds who are on the verge of professional careers. The conducting fellows will have the opportunity to work closely with Chicago Sinfonietta Music Director Mei-Ann Chen over a one to two year period and will have multiple opportunities to conduct live ensembles through partnerships with leading Chicago classical music organizations and educational institutions.
Begun in 2007, for its first six seasons, Project Inclusion has focused its efforts on helping orchestral musicians from diverse backgrounds launch careers in the Classical music industry. With support from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and the League of American Orchestras, the Fellowship will expand the current Project Inclusion program to include early career diverse conductors who will be chosen through a competitive audition process.
“I am thrilled to announce the launch of this unique program that will give talented conductors from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to learn through hands-on experiences in front of live musicians and the benefit of learning the administrative and fundraising skills that conductors need to master to succeed today,” said music director Mei-Ann Chen. “When I was finishing my graduate studies and looking for opportunities that would prepare me for a professional career, there were very few programs that offered both in-depth experiences and covered a wide range of topics. The Chicago Sinfonietta’s Project Inclusion Conducting Fellowship is a unique program that combines the strength of programs which existed in the past, and could become a launching platform for potentially significant professional careers.”
“With the support of the Mellon Foundation and our other funders, we have the opportunity to expand Project Inclusion to serve conductors from diverse backgrounds who seek careers as orchestra music directors,” added Jim Hirsch, Chicago Sinfonietta executive director. “We want to be the catalyst that assists deserving young conductors get their first professional opportunity.”
The PICF program will offer a comprehensive education to the Fellows. In addition to intensive conducting opportunities with Chicago Sinfonietta members and Project Inclusion Orchestral Fellows, the Conducting Fellows will attend seminars with leading musical leaders in Chicago and receive training in board development, financial statement analysis, marketing symphonic music to prospective audiences, and working with union orchestras under a collective bargaining agreement.
Additional information on the Project Inclusion Conducting Fellowship program and a downloadable application can be found on the Chicago Sinfonietta web site. Auditions for the program, to be held in Chicago, will occur in late spring or early summer. Conductors chosen to participate in the program will be expected to start their duties in the fall or early winter of 2014 and will receive room and travel assistance. They will not be expected to reside in Chicago but will have to attend all five intensive sessions that will occur during the Chicago Sinfonietta concert season.
The Chicago Sinfonietta is a professional orchestra that forms unique cultural connections through the universal language of symphonic music. For over 26 years, the Sinfonietta has pushed artistic and social boundaries to provide an alternative way of hearing, seeing and thinking about a symphony orchestra. Each concert experience fuses inventive new works with classical masterworks from a diverse array of voices to entertain, transform and inspire. The Chicago Sinfonietta performs five subscription concerts in both downtown Chicago at Symphony Center and in Naperville at Wentz Concert Hall. The Sinfonietta has a proud history of having enriched the cultural, educational and social quality of life in Chicago under the guidance of Founding Music Director Paul Freeman. Mei-Ann Chen succeeded Paul Freeman as the Chicago Sinfonietta’s Music Director beginning with the 2011-12 season. In 2012 the Sinfonietta was honored with two national awards for excellence from the League of American Orchestras, one for adventurous programming and one recognizing Maestro Chen with the Helen M. Thompson Award for an Emerging Music Director.

For more information on the Project Inclusion Conducting Fellowship program, visit or contact Dileep Gangolli, Project Inclusion Manager, at 847.902.0733.

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