$400,000 grant from Mellon to Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to support diversity

Posted on: February 9, 2015

In Friday’s (2/6) Wall Street Journal, Corinne Ramey reports that the New York-based Orpheus Chamber Orchestra has “received a $400,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to, among other things, allow more musicians of diverse backgrounds to play with the orchestra, in the hopes that this leads to new hires.… Just 5% of U.S. orchestral musicians are African-American or Latino, according to the League of American Orchestras, an advocacy group.… ‘We want Orpheus to reflect the communities that we serve,’ said violist and artistic director Dov Scheindlin. ‘This is a conscious effort to find new musicians of many backgrounds.’ … In bringing in substitute musicians, the orchestra seeks out diverse players, asking colleges, universities and organizations like the Sphinx Foundation, a nonprofit that works with young black and Latino musicians, for suggestions. The grant also funds extra rehearsals, which allow for the orchestra to bring in diverse musicians for a single rehearsal, and compensates for the perceived risk of hiring unfamiliar candidates. Finally, Orpheus will create a fellowship program that allows pre-professional musicians to sit in on rehearsals.… ‘The biggest part of addressing diversity of musicians on stage is growing the pipeline,’ ” said League President and CEO Jesse Rosen.

Posted February 9, 2015