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IRIS Artist Fellows Program


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IRIS Orchestra, under the baton of Michael Stern, announces openings for string instrumentalists in the IRIS Artist Fellowship (IAF) program. IAF is a program for rising professional musicians with a passion for engaging music as a tool for social justice while growing in their own artistry. Designed to address the under-representation of African-Americans and Latinx in the classical music realm, the fellowship program is directed toward musicians of those populations.

IRIS Artist Fellows perform in all IRIS Orchestra concerts and benefit from the opportunity to build their professional network within a community of skilled instrumentalists with nationwide connections. Between orchestra events, Fellows focus on chamber music, education, youth development, community-building projects, and collaborations.

The heart of the IAF program is education. Our goal is that after the program, candidates will feel prepared to embark on a professional career in music, whether that is in the performance hall, in the classroom, or beyond. The program is designed to give a background in many aspects of a professional music career: including, but not limited to performance. After the season, fellows will have a wide variety of experiences on which to draw to better help guide their path in music.

Program Description

The IRIS Artist Fellowship Program is an eleven-month, full-time position including professionals’ training with instruction, in-the-field experience, and network-building. It is designed to assist rising musicians to develop a portfolio of skills with which to build successful careers in music.

The residency provides hands-on training and experience in teaching artistry, chamber music, and orchestral performance with coaching from Maestro Stern, resident and visiting artists, and education specialists. With a focus on impacting the Greater Memphis community, the Fellowship emphasizes youth development, community building projects, student performances, and community collaborations. Through a partnership with Memphis Music Initiative, IRIS Artist Fellows bring positive change to schools and other organizations in underserved communities by participating in community engagement programs that focus on musical instruction, mentorship, inspiration, and social equity.

Fellows perform in five concerts with IRIS Orchestra, receive mentorship from IRIS musicians and renowned guest artists, and perform in the Greater Memphis area as the IRIS Artist Fellows ensemble.

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Fellows Spend Their Time:
  • Teaching in area schools as part of the Memphis Music Initiative’s In-School Fellows Program (
  • Participating in community initiatives and outreach to bring musical experiences to the underserved and marginalized youth in Memphis
  • Performing in all IRIS Orchestra concerts throughout the 2019-2020 season
  • Performing and working as part of the IRIS Artist Fellows Ensemble
  • Performing with select guest artists in chamber concerts
  • Collaborating with other area arts organizations
  • Training with IRIS musicians and guest artists

Questions? Email us at or call the IRIS Office at (901) 751-7669

IRIS Orchestra Mission Statement

To provide outstanding experiences in the concert hall, the classroom and throughout the Mid-South community through musical, educational, and mentoring endeavors