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IRIS Artist Fellows Program


IRIS Orchestra, under the baton of Michael Stern, is continuing the IRIS Artist Fellows Program for the second year. Through a partnership with Memphis Music Initiative, this unique fellowship program offers training in teaching artistry, chamber performance, and orchestral playing to string musicians from historically underrepresented populations in classical music. Get paid a competitive salary to train and work with IRIS musicians from across the country and guest artists such as Branford Marsalis and Elena Urioste.

Vision Statement

The IRIS Artist Fellows Program is a professional’s training program offering instruction, in-the-field experience, and network building with the intention of creating a platform for rising musicians to step into successful careers in music. The Fellowship is designed to address the inequity of historically underrepresented populations in classical music and is open to individuals who identify as Black/African-American, Latino/a, or both.

The residency provides hands-on training and experience through regular performances and coachings in teaching artistry, chamber music, and orchestral performance. With a focus on service to the greater Memphis community, the Fellowship emphasizes youth development, community building projects, performances, and collaborations.

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 with IRIS Orchestra under the baton of Michael Stern, receive mentorship from IRIS musicians and renowned guest artists, and play together in the Greater Memphis area as the IRIS Artist Fellows String Quartet.

Program Description


August 2017 through June 2018

Fellows Receive:
  • $25,000 salary for the season
  • $200 monthly health insurance stipend for 12 months
  • Housing at The Crosstown Concourse ( July 2017 through June 2018 ($12,000 value)
  • $2,700 in professional development funds for lessons, audition expenses, and coaching
  • Total salary and benefits package over $40K!
Fellows Spend Their Time:
  • Working as Music Mentors in area schools as part of the Memphis Music Initiative’s In-School Fellows Program (
  • Performing in all IRIS Orchestra concerts throughout the 2017-2018 season
  • Performing and working as part of the IRIS Artist Fellows String Quartet
  • Leading musically driven projects designed to amplify the voices and creativity of the underserved and marginalized youth in the community
  • Training and coaching with IRIS musicians and guest artists
Instrument Openings:
  • violin (2)
  • viola
  • cello
Fellow Requirements:
  • demonstrate a high caliber of musicianship on violin, viola, or cello
  • will have completed a bachelor’s degree by the start of the fellowship
  • have experience teaching or working in underserved communities
  • believe in using music as a tool for social justice and positive change
  • identify as Black/African-American, Latino/a, or both

How to Apply

Complete the online application by clicking the link below. (You will be asked to create an account to access the application. This will allow you to begin the application process.)

IRIS Artist Fellowship Application  

The online application will ask you to submit the following:

  • Resume or CV
  • 2 essays, no more than 450 words each
    • Essay #1: How can and should music be used as a tool for social justice in underserved communities and communities of color?
    • Essay #2: Why is it important to have music offered in the public schools, and what would you say to a donor who is considering giving to a music education program?
  • Audition video – IRIS Artist Fellows Audition List 2017-1018
  • 2 references

The deadline to apply is April 15, 2017


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

IRIS Artist Fellows Audition List 2017-1018

Each Solo and Excerpt submission should be shot in one continuous take; no editing of the audio or video is permitted. Please note that candidates may record each segment separately. You may submit more than one file. The title of each file should be Last Name,First Name, Composer, Title of Piece. Example: Johnson, Steve, Mendelssohn, String Quartet in e-minor.

IRIS Artist Fellowship Application  


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