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Iris Artist Fellows Program

Stay tuned for announcement of new 2021/2022 Iris Artist Fellows!

Application Deadline: April 1, 2021

Iris Orchestra, under the baton of Michael Stern, is accepting applications for the Iris Artist Fellowship (IAF). IAF is a program for rising professional musicians with a passion for engaging music as a tool for social impact while growing in their own artistry. Designed to address the under-representation of Black, African American, and Latinx artists in classical music, the fellowship is directed toward musicians from 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 program is designed to provide experiential opportunities in several aspects of a professional music career: including performance, teaching artistry, and community involvement.


Program Description

The Iris Artist Fellowship Program is a ten-month, full-time position including professional training with instruction, in-the-field experience, and network-building. It is designed to assist rising musicians 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 Artistic Director Michael 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 social and emotional learning through music, mentorship, inspiration, and social equity.

Fellows perform with Iris Orchestra during the concert season, receive mentorship from Iris musicians and renowned guest artists, and perform in the Greater Memphis area as the Iris Artist Fellows ensemble.

Click Here for full job description


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 with Iris Orchestra during the concert 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
Fellows Receive:
  • Total salary and benefits package valued over $40,000
  • $25,000* salary for the season
  • $200 monthly health insurance stipend for 12 months
  • Life insurance policy provided by MMI (face value of $25,000)
  • $800 monthly housing stipend available July 2021 – June 2022
  • $1500 Professional Development Fund
  • Coachings with Michael Stern
  • Customized professional development

           * $25,000 salary reflects an average of 20 hours/week in-school music mentoring

You Are Eligible If You:
  • Identify as Black, African American, and/or Latinx
  • Believe in using music as a tool for social impact and positive change
  • Demonstrate a high caliber of musicianship on violin, viola, or cello
  • Will have completed your bachelor’s degree by the start of the fellowship
  • Have experience teaching or working in underserved communities
  • Are eligible to work in the US without sponsorship during the 2021/2022 season


How to Apply:
  • Fill out online application form and submit the following supplemental materials
  • Resume/CV
  • Audition Videos-Click Here for the Audition Repertoire Lists
  • 2 References
  • 2 Essays (max. 450 words each)
    • Essay 1- How can and should music be used as a tool in Social and Emotional Learning for youth particularly in under-served communities?
    • Essay 2- How can and should music be used as a tool for social impact, and what would you say to a donor who is considering giving to such a program?

Links: Job Description, Audition List, Application Form

Questions? Email us at or call the Iris Office at (901) 746-9948.

Iris Orchestra Mission Statement 

Iris Orchestra’s mission is to serve the community with the gift of exceptional music through performance, education, and community engagement. 


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