The Hartford Symphony Orchestra (HSO) stands firmly behind its commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion.? To bring this commitment to life, the HSO is taking proactive steps to promote inclusivity and provide opportunities for musicians from historically underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Through its BIPOC Musician Fellowship Program, the HSO aims to not only diversify its own ranks but also contribute to a more equitable landscape in symphonic music. The BIPOC fellowships, supported by the Hartford Foundation for Public Give, aim to integrate artists from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds into the orchestra for a duration of two years. Following their fellowships, participants have the chance to audition for permanent positions within the orchestra. 

The HSO’s BIPOC Musician Fellowship Program is designed to provide valuable professional opportunities for early-career string musicians from underrepresented backgrounds. The program offers a comprehensive array of experiences, including mentoring, rehearsal, and performance opportunities, as well as educational workshops and professional development initiatives. Fellowships will be awarded to early-career string musicians specializing in violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Each fellowship spans a period of two years, during which fellows engage in various activities aimed at honing their skills and advancing their careers. The HSO may select up to four fellows for each two-year term, ensuring a meaningful impact on the symphonic community. 

To ensure a fair selection process, the HSO will actively recruit BIPOC musicians and encourage them to apply for the fellowship program. Candidates will undergo a rigorous audition process, adhering to standard HSO protocols. Auditions will be evaluated by a panel consisting of the HSO Music Director, section principals, and a representative of the Orchestra Committee.  

Fellows will be integrated into a variety of HSO performances, including Masterworks and POPS! as well as educational and community engagement concerts. Their participation will be additive, complementing the work of contracted players without replacing them. Fellows receive compensation for their services in accordance with the prevailing base-service rate and will become members of AFM Local 400. 

In addition to performance opportunities, fellows will receive professional development support and mentorship from seasoned musicians. Mentors will be selected through a rigorous application process and compensated for their time spent guiding and advising fellows. The HSO will also offer housing assistance through its Homestay program, further supporting fellows as they navigate their musical careers. 

As the HSO prepares for the upcoming season, it is finalizing programming, assessing budgetary needs, and considering whether additional fundraising efforts may be needed. Additionally, auditions are being scheduled to identify the first cohort of talented BIPOC musicians who will participate in the program. By providing tangible opportunities and support to underrepresented musicians, the HSO will not only enrich its own artistic landscape but will help pave the way for a more equitable future in classical music.