14-Year-Old Fellowship Program Now Honors Paul J. Ross, the First African American Musician to Receive a Full-Time Contract with the Pittsburgh Symphony

Substantial New Funding Will Secure Expansion of Number of Fellows

December 2, 2021

Download media assets

PITTSBURGH—A new commitment to the future of diversity in orchestras was announced by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra today, as its 14-year-old fellowship program for pre-professional musicians identifying as Black or African American will now be called the Paul J. Ross Fellowship, with transformative new funding secured for the program’s expansion and with substantive changes in the fellowship experience.

“It is with great joy that we announce the Paul J. Ross Fellowship in honor of the late Paul J. Ross, the violinist who, in 1965, was the first African American musician to receive a full-time contract from the Pittsburgh Symphony. It is deeply fitting to honor Paul, whose legacy is notable for nurturing, mentoring, and supporting young musicians, and his devotion to sharing his joy of music,” said Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The Paul J. Ross Fellowship Program is a two-year pre-professional program designed to enable young musicians identifying as Black or African American to dedicate themselves to the pursuit of an orchestral career. Fellows work closely alongside members of the Pittsburgh Symphony to train and prepare for professional auditions and opportunities, with substantial financial and professional development support, and robust mentorship in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Formerly known as OTPAAM (Orchestra Training Program for African American Musicians), the fellowship program was begun in the 2007-2008 season to promote diversity in orchestra settings to better reflect the diverse communities and audiences the orchestra serves. Shantanique Moore, flute, who was named the eighth OTPAAM Fellow for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons, has accepted an extension through the 2021-2022 season and is the first Paul J. Ross Fellow.

“Over the past 18 months, the Pittsburgh Symphony has undergone an extensive organization-wide exploration and new commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion. The Paul J. Ross Fellowship program is an important step in this commitment by directly influencing the orchestra pipeline and demonstrating through action that we are living our core values,” said Tourangeau. “We are grateful for continued funding from EQT Foundation, and for a tremendous new investment from the Arts, Equity, & Education Fund, and Hans and Leslie Fleischner, that will make possible the expansion from one Fellow to four new Fellows in each season by 2025.”

Arts, Equity, & Education Fund (AE&E Fund) is a private family foundation based in Pittsburgh that, among its goals, seeks to amplify systemic change, recognizing that change often starts with individuals on a smaller scale. Together with Hans and Leslie Fleischner, they have committed substantial new funding to the Paul J. Ross Fellowship Program and jointly pledged an additional $150,000 if matched by new and increased gifts for this program over the next four years. If successfully matched, the financial need for the program will be almost fully met for all four years.

Changes to the Pittsburgh Symphony’s fellowship program began early in 2021 through a collaborative process among musicians and staff. In addition to the expansion of the number of fellows, the Paul J. Ross Fellowship will have extensive mentoring, and significant new financial support that will make the program competitive with peer orchestra programs and other full-time professional opportunities. Key changes include:

  • Fellows will receive annual pay equivalent to minimum orchestra weekly scale for 21 work weeks (about $43,000), playing across all Pittsburgh Symphony programs.
  • Fellows will receive full benefits of Pittsburgh Symphony insurance plans and up to $8,000 in reimbursements for audition and professional development expenses each season.
  • Fellows will receive additional access to observing Pittsburgh Symphony member auditions to provide insight on the audition process.
  • Fellows will have increased playing opportunities, and all candidates will be considered for Pittsburgh Symphony substitute musician opportunities.
  • Fellows will be invited to work with the Learning and Community Department in schools, hospitals, and community settings.

The application for auditions for the Paul J. Ross Fellowship Program will be open on December 10; applicants will learn by February 21, 2022, if they are invited for auditions in early April. Application requirements include:

  • Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30 on September 5, 2022
  • Applicants must have obtained a Bachelor’s degree
  • Applicants must be eligible for employment in the United States

Full details, requirements, audition repertoire, list of instruments accepted for the Fellowship, and COVID-19 safety protocols can be found at: www.pittsburghsymphony.org/auditions. Questions can be addressed to: auditions@pittsburghsymphony.org. An additional benefit this year is that the Fellowship program will pay expenses for those coming to Pittsburgh to audition.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is a partner orchestra of the National Alliance for Audition Support—an unprecedented national initiative of The Sphinx Organization, New World Symphony, and the League of American Orchestras, to increase diversity in American orchestras. Prior Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Fellows have experienced substantial career advancement as a result of the fellowship:

  • 2017-2019 Fellow Joshua Jones, percussion, won a position with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra as Principal Percussion during the first year of the fellowship. He joined the Kansas City Symphony as Principal Percussion in 2020.
  • 2015-2017 Fellow Torrell Moss, percussion, was accepted as an Artist Diploma candidate at Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, as a result of his fellowship. Moss has recently held positions with the Rainey Institute and Ashland Symphony Orchestra in Ohio, and he performed in M.U.S.i.C.’s Stars in the Classics garden concert in 2020.
  • 2013-2015 Fellow Adedeji Ogunfolu, horn, won a position with the San Antonio Symphony during the first year of the fellowship. He joined the Pacific Symphony as second horn in 2018, and has been appointed as Professor of Horn at the University of California, Irvine.
  • 2011-2013 Fellow Ryan Murphy, cello, won a position with the San Antonio Symphony in 2012 and is currently in his ninth season with the orchestra.
  • 2007-2008 Fellow Geoffrey Johnson, oboe, was the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s first OTPAAM Fellow. He won acting second oboe of the Detroit Symphony from 2014-2017, and he is currently a private lessons teacher and guest oboist in major orchestras across the country.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is grateful to the Arts, Equity, & Education Fund, and Hans and Leslie Fleischner for major support of the Paul J. Ross Fellowship. The Pittsburgh Symphony is grateful to EQT Foundation for ongoing support of the Paul J. Ross Fellowship program.


About the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

About the Arts, Equity, & Education Fund

About Paul J. Ross

The late Paul J. Ross was the first African American musician to be awarded a full-time contract with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, in 1965. Ross began playing the violin at age 11; at Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, he was a member of a string quartet that took top honors in a statewide competition. Ross earned both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and was one of the original members of the Pittsburgh Quartet.

Since 2005, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has awarded the Paul Ross award to recognize people in the Pittsburgh community who give back to the community, especially with youth and in music education. A former conductor of the Three Rivers Symphonette and Artistic Director of Project STEP, Ross dedicated much of his time advocating the importance of youth music education in public schools. His wife, former Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra cellist Charlotta Klein Ross, established a fund in his memory at The Pittsburgh Foundation (read more about the Rosses here) to help children whose families are unable to afford extra classes and musical training.

Media Contacts
Julie Goetz | Director of Communications
jgoetz@pittsburghsymphony.org | 412.392.4866 or 412.905.9058 (mobile)