Project Inclusion

Musician Mentoring Program

Project Inclusion is the Chicago Sinfonietta’s groundbreaking mentoring program for musicians of diverse backgrounds who are pursuing careers as professional classical musicians. It is designed to help eliminate the institutional bias that is a barrier to participation for many musicians due to factors such as ethnicity, race, and socio-economic status. According to a study by Dr. Earl Carter of Juilliard, less than 3% of orchestral musicians are people of color. Regrettably, there are very few programs addressing this issue.

Project Inclusion provides promising musicians from diverse backgrounds two-year fellowships with the Chicago Sinfonietta. The fellows receive:

  • Full salary for all rehearsals and performances. The fellows perform at every concert during their two-year fellowships and are often hired for other services, further extending both the financial and experiential impact of the fellowship.
  • One-on-one mentoring from senior members of the orchestra on topics ranging from concert preparation, to audition advice, to professionalism, and more.
  • Assistance in securing work after the fellowship has been completed.

We believe that America’s orchestras should reflect its communities. Our goal for Project Inclusion is to see other orchestras begin similar programs so that the number of qualified, experienced minority musicians competing for and winning seats in orchestras is significantly increased, resulting in the enhanced diversity of all American orchestras.

We are very grateful to the generous sponsors of Project Inclusion and to our partners who help us identify candidates for the program, including Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, DePaul School of Music, and Northwestern University School of Music.

The Chicago Sinfonietta accepts applications from qualified musicians periodically. All applicants must audition. Application eligibility and guidelines for the program may be downloaded below.

Audition Requirements

Project Inclusion Ensembles (PIE)

Due to the limited number (4-6 people) of talented musicians served each year through Project Inclusion, the Sinfonietta launched the PIE program in 2009 to increase the number of musicians being prepared for careers in classical music. The PIE musicians are chosen through a competitive audition process, receive coaching, and are scheduled to perform at community events throughout the Chicagoland area. Since January of 2010 PIE has performed at over forty community events for over 6,000 people.

To request a PIE for your community event please contact Dave Belden.

Project Inclusion Conducting Fellowship

The Project Inclusion Conducting Fellowship (PICF) is a program that aims to foster the development of conductors of diverse backgrounds who are on the verge of professional careers. The conducting fellows will have the opportunity to work closely with Chicago Sinfonietta Music Director Mei-Ann Chen over a one to two year period and will have multiple opportunities to conduct live ensembles through partnerships with leading Chicago classical music organizations and educational institutions.

March 2014 Press Release

Project Inclusion Administrative (PIA) Fellowship

The Chicago Sinfonietta is proud to offer an opportunity for diverse emerging and early career administrative professionals through our new Project Inclusion Administrative (PIA) Fellowship. PIA Fellowship will be a nine month long fellowship with practical, hands-on experience and will provide the opportunity for fellows to develop their skills within an arts organization, particularly in areas of Development and Marketing. Fellows will receive hourly financial compensation during their fellowship. We pride ourselves in creating a collaborative and transparent work environment and we are looking for self-motivated, talented, and passionate individuals to join our team. Application due date is September 30, 2015. Please click on the link below for the full application including information on eligibility requirements and program commitments.


The Chicago Sinfonietta is very grateful to the Andrew Mellon Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust for their support of Project Inclusion.


Contact Dave Belden, Project Inclusion Manager