IRIS Orchestra’s new Artist Fellows program for African-American and Hispanic musicians

Posted on: September 30, 2016

“The first participants in the IRIS Orchestra’s IRIS Artist Fellows program are ready to take their first bows to the Memphis public this week,” writes Mark Richens in Wednesday’s (9/28) Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.). “The program is intended to increase participation in the classical field by African-American and Hispanic musicians. The three fellows, all recent college graduates, earn a stipend by rehearsing and performing with IRIS—a professional orchestra that draws musicians from all over the country—teaching in local schools, and performing as a chamber trio called C3Strings…. ‘We wanted to address the inequity that can be seen in underrepresentation of African-Americans and Latinos in classical music,’ said [IRIS Community Initiatives Coordinator Rebecca] Arendt, citing a 2015 study by the League of American Orchestras that found only 4 percent of their musicians are black or Hispanic. Arendt said the fellowship also addresses a need for … ‘hands-on training in the field.’ … The three fellows [violinist Mariama Alcantara, cellist Ajibola Rivers, and violist Ashley Vines] will join their new colleagues in the IRIS Orchestra for concerts Oct. 8 and 9…. Said Rivers: ‘I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’ll be playing alongside my mentors in a professional orchestra.’ ”

Posted September 30, 2016

Pictured: IRIS Artist Fellows (from left) Ashley Vines, Ajibola Rivers, and Mariama Alcantara