Forty Years of Fellowships: A Study of Orchestras' Efforts to Include African American and Latino Musicians

by Nick Rabkin

Sep 1, 2016

This report, commissioned by the League of American Orchestras, is the first systematic effort to review the record of those fellowships from the perspectives of the orchestras and the musicians who have participated in them. Until now there has been no single source for information about which orchestras conducted fellowships, when they were conducted, and how many musicians were fellows. This report answers important questions about what happened to fellows across all the programs after their fellowships were completed: Did they successfully compete for orchestra jobs? Did their careers take other paths? It also provides a view of their experiences as fellows: How did they benefit from the experience? What kinds of problems did they experience? Until now, no data has been collected that reflects the judgment of orchestra leaders and other experts about the dynamics of launching and managing a fellowship program. Through the frame of these fellowship programs, what can be learned about broader diversity issues for orchestras? For the first time, we are able to present the following information and analysis:

* The first section of this report, "Forty Years of Fellowships," presents all available program and impact data relating to orchestra fellowships, from 1976 to the present day. It reflects documentation supplied by orchestras themselves, following a scoping survey of League members, and the results of supplemental web research. It identifies the orchestras that have had fellowships, counts the fellows, and reviews the elements that are characteristic of fellowship programs. It defines the fundamental characteristics of fellowship programs, notes three different basic models, tracks career outcomes for fellows, and explores the cost and financing of fellowship programs.

* The second section, "Forty Years of Fellows," explores the perspectives of musicians who have been fellows over the years. Interviews with 21 fellowship program alumni were conducted, including one or more fellows from every fellowship program.

* The third section, "Fellowship/Leadership: Voices of Experience," examines the perspectives of orchestra leaders, program managers, and a few outside experts as they reflect on the dynamics of fellowship programs, their value for orchestras, and the place of fellowships within the larger challenge of making orchestras more inclusive and diverse institutions.

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