September 23, 2020
Chicago Sinfonietta Announces 2020-21 Project Inclusion Fellows

Chicago, IL - Chicago Sinfonietta today announced the young musicians who have been selected to participate in its nationally acclaimed Project Inclusion program, now in its 33rd season. With 15 fellowships awarded in the areas of Ensemble, Conducting, and Composition, the 2020-21 season program is the largest Project Inclusion class since its launch.

A natural evolution of the 33 year-old orchestra's mission, and the largest and most successful program of its kind, Project Inclusion is a nationally recognized forward-thinking nine-month program which works to help eliminate institutional bias due to factors such as ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status by bringing together talent and mentorship to further develop diverse and emerging musicians, conductors, and administrators on and off-stage. Launched in 2007 by Sinfonietta founder Maestro Paul Freeman, today Project Inclusion has expanded to address matters of diversity and inclusion from every angle. Having begun with a focus in three areas: orchestra and ensemble musicians, and arts administration, then adding conducting in 2013, this season the innovative program introduces a fifth fellowship, in composition.

"We are excited to have 15 inspiring artists join us this season," stated CEO Blake-Anthony Johnson. "While some are new to the program, and some are in their second season with us, all exhibit a passionate commitment to our field and to the mission of diversity and equity."

As part of its Conducting Freeman Fellowship, Chicago Sinfonietta selects one rising conductor to serve as Assistant Conductor to Music Director Mei-Ann Chen.

In announcing the young conductor, Maestra Chen said, "In recent seasons, a promising young conductor who has participated in Project Inclusion Fellowship is selected to serve as Assistant Conductor to a Sinfonietta season to master the multiple skills required by such a specific role. Such extension of the Fellowship program has proven to be incredibly successful in launching close to a dozen young conductors of color into professional staff conducting positions in the nation! I am happy to announce that this season's Assistant Conductor is Antoine T. Clark."

"I am delighted to serve as the assistant conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta, a forward-leaning and dynamic orchestra that has shown an unwavering commitment to diversify classical music," stated Mr. Clark. "Project Inclusion has provided me with invaluable training that has facilitated my advancement in a field where people of color are considerably underrepresented. I am incredibly excited to play a more active role within the orchestra as it promotes music as an agent for equity and inclusion."

As Assistant Conductor, in addition to his duties assisting Maestra Chen, and receiving additional mentoring from her, Mr. Clark will have the opportunity to conduct on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert on January 18, 2021.

New to the program this season is the Project Inclusion Composing Freeman Fellowship. The inducting artist is Chicago-based Michelle Isaac. Ms. Isaac's work has been heard throughout the United States, including notable performances by Chicago Sinfonietta at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University Wind Ensemble and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Percussion Ensemble.

This season's Project Inclusion Fellows are:

Project Inclusion Orchestral Freeman Fellows
Najette Abouelhadi, cello; Fahad Awan and Allison Lovera, violin; Seth Pae, viola

Project Inclusion Ensemble Freeman Fellows
Najette Abouelhadi, cello; Fahad Awan and Allison Lovera, violin; Diego Diaz, Seth Pae and Adrienne Sherrod, viola

Project Inclusion Conducting Freeman Fellows
Alexis Enyart, Taichi Fukumura, Kyle Dickson, Yabetza Irizarry, Aaron King Vaughan, Michelle Di Russo, Glenn Alexander II

Project Inclusion Composition Freeman Fellow
Michelle Isaac

2020-21 Chicago Sinfonietta Assistant Conductor
Antoine T. Clark.

ABOUT Antoine T. Clark, 2020-21 Assistant Conductor
Known for his engaging presence and as an advocate for arts education, Antoine T. Clark is the founding Artistic and Music Director of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra. A supporter of new music and interdisciplinary artistic collaborations, Mr. Clark regularly commissions new works and engages artists from various practices to create dynamic programming that inspires, fosters music education, and establishes relationships between artists and communities.

Committed to inspiring and nurturing the next generation of musicians, Mr. Clark has taught students ranging from young beginners through college music majors. Currently, he is the conductor and Music Director of the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra's Philharmonia Orchestra, Music Director of the Ohio Wesleyan University Chamber Orchestra, Music Director of the Northern Ohio University Symphony Orchestra, and adjunct instructor of woodwinds at Kenyon College. (More information can be found in the dropbox link below.)

ABOUT Project Inclusion Fellowships
All Fellowships are nine-months long, and financially compensated with practical, hands-on experience. The program is overseen by Project Inclusion Manager Danielle Taylor.

Project Inclusion Administrative Freeman Fellowship
includes training and mentoring from Chicago Sinfonietta's experienced administrative staff in the areas of development and marketing; direct involvement with Sinfonietta's audience and donor engagement and Project Inclusion Fellowships; community immersion opportunities; and performance collaborations.

Project Inclusion Orchestral Freeman Fellowship
Includes one-on-one mentoring from Chicago Sinfonietta senior orchestra members; performances at every concert during fellowship; opportunities to perform for additional services, extending the impact of the fellowship; Full salary for all rehearsals and performances; and assistance in securing work after the fellowship has been completed.

Project Inclusion Ensemble Freeman Fellowship
Features professional, freelance musicians who often find work performing chamber music. Ensemble musicians may also be selected for an Orchestral Fellowship, are chosen through a competitive audition process. Fellowship includes appearances at community events; monthly rehearsals that address individual and ensemble work, as well as introduce new repertoire and performance skills; coaching on presentation and speaking skills, verbal feedback from principal mentors; and payment for all services.

Project Inclusion Conducting Freeman Fellowship
Introduced in the 2013-14 season, the Conducting Fellowship fosters the development of 4-6 conductors of diverse backgrounds who are on the verge of professional careers. The conducting fellows have the opportunity to work closely with Chicago Sinfonietta Music Director Mei-Ann Chen and other experienced conductors, and industry professionals. Fellowship includes: intensive and extensive training, mentoring and conducting activities over a nine-month period; coaching of on and off-the-podium topics to develop the 21st century conductor; development of basic orchestra management skills, including but not limited to marketing, programming, fundraising and finance; opportunities to conduct live ensembles through partnerships with leading Chicago classical music organizations and educational institutions.

Project Inclusion Composing Freeman Fellowship
Introduced this 2020-21 season the Composing Freeman Fellowship was created to include emerging composers best suited to the program's criteria and offerings. Composing fellows are given multiple opportunities to learn, workshop, and share the craft of composition with leading composers throughout the nation. They also receive extensive mentoring, technical training, and workshop activities spread out over the course of the fellowship. Sessions include Sibelius, Musicscore, and Finale software training, contract negotiations, management skills in marketing, programming, fundraising, and finance, mock compositional pitches, as well as more nuanced discussions on cultivating diversity, and leadership. The fellowship will culminate in a longer commissioned piece to be performed by Chicago Sinfonietta in the 2021-2022 season."

For further details on Project Inclusion, please visit

ABOUT Chicago Sinfonietta
Groundbreaking. Dynamic. Innovative. An acclaimed cultural leader and a powerful champion of diversity, equity and inclusion, the award-winning Chicago Sinfonietta
was founded in 1987 by the late Maestro Paul Freeman to address diversity in orchestras. Dedicated to changing the face of classical music, and making classical music accessible to everyone, what began as a mission to represent the city of Chicago has evolved into an international position at the forefront of progressive change in the arts. Led by international conductor and Music Director Maestra Mei-Ann Chen since 2011, today Chicago Sinfonietta is a pioneering organization and positive influencer in the orchestral world, renowned for its defiantly different outlook, innovative and collaborative programming, and artistry of the highest caliber. The ensemble's success has been recognized with numerous industry honors, including a 2020 League of American Orchestras Catalyst Award for Institutional Development and Anti-racism Training, a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions - the "genius award" for non-profit organizations, an ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, and a First Place Award for Programming of Contemporary Music.

Celebrated for its daring, cutting-edge programs ranging from its popular subscription concert series with guests of national and local renown, the organization's commitment to parity and diversity for all is ubiquitous in its myriad education and community programs. Amongst them: Audience Matters, targeting 4th - 6th grade students in partnership with more than 23 CPS schools and nine Aurora schools; Student Ensembles with Excellence and Diversity (SEED) a mentoring program for talented high school musicians; and Residents Orchestrate, re-imagining the role that an orchestra can play in historically underserved Chicago neighborhoods. Its nationally recognized Project Inclusion Fellowships, with training and mentoring of young musicians in the areas of administration, orchestral and ensemble performance, conducting and now composition, is the largest and most successful of its kind. Through the above performances and initiatives, as well as various events, Chicago Sinfonietta continues to expand its mission and strengthen its leadership in the world of classical music, redefining the orchestra experience for today's and future generations.

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