Paul J. Ross Fellowship


The Paul J. Ross Fellowship Program is a two-year program designed to enable 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.

The Paul J. Ross Fellowship is named 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. The legacy of Paul J. Ross is notable for nurturing, mentoring, and supporting young musicians, and his devotion to sharing his joy of music. 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.


Key components of the Fellowship

  • The two-year Fellowship begins September 2, 2024 and ends on September 6, 2026.
  • Compensation and Benefits:  
    • Minimum annual pay each season is equivalent to 21 weeks at orchestra weekly scale; 23-24 season pay is $43,741.32
    • Single coverage on PSO medical, dental, instrument insurance, life and accident insurance plans.
    • Reimbursement of up to $8,000 per season in audition and professional development expenses such as lessons, travel, hotel, sheet music, AFM membership, etc.
    • Allowance for relocation to and from Pittsburgh at start and end of Fellowship
  • Fellows play a minimum of 100 services with the PSO across all program types (Grand Classics, Pops, Education, Community Outreach), scheduled collaboratively to accommodate auditions and related preparation, as well as outside professional opportunities.
    • Fellows playing more than 112 services receive additional compensation at the extra musician rate ($260.37 per service in the 2023-2024 season).
    • Annual pay includes an allowance for dedicated study time.
  • Fellows have the ability and opportunity to tailor their experience to their own specific needs, including: 
    • Mentorship from and mock auditions with members of the PSO
    • Time on stage at Heinz Hall to take lessons or for personal practice
    • Opportunity to observe PSO member auditions for insight on the audition process
    • Working with the Learning and Community Engagement Department in schools, hospitals, and community settings
    • Consideration for a solo opportunity with the PSO
  • All applicants will be considered for Pittsburgh Symphony substitute musician opportunities

How to Apply

The online application form and full details may be found here on our Auditions page. Candidates Invited to in-person final auditions will have their audition and travel expenses paid. Application requirements include:

  • Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 35 in September 2024.
  • Completion of a Bachelor’s Degree by September 2024 is preferred.
  • Applicants must be eligible for employment in the United States.

Paul J. Ross Fellows


2022-2023 and 2023-2024 Seasons


Cooper Cromwell-Whitley, trombone, received his Bachelor of Music in Trombone Performance at the University of Michigan. A winner of the Peabody Wind Orchestra concerto competition in 2017, Cromwell-Whitley has performed in summer orchestras, including the Brevard Music Center, Black Excellent Trombone Choir, NYO-USA Orchestra and World Youth Symphony Orchestra.




2023-2024 and 2024-2025 Seasons


Drew Collins, Drew Collins is currently finishing the first year of his Masters in Double Bass Performance at Carnegie Mellon University, studying under Micah Howard. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio and reared in Columbus, Ohio, Drew began playing double bass in fourth grade in elementary school. By the sixth grade, he also joined the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra and by eighth grade, the Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra until he finished high school. Drew spent a summer abroad and multiple summers at Interlochen Center for the Arts. He attended the Cleveland Institute of Music for his undergraduate education, studying under Derek Zadinsky. Drew is a passionate electric bass player as well, collaborating with many different musicians. He has worked in free improv, jazz, funk, gospel, and psychedelic rock.



Joshua Carr, Joshua Samuel Carr studied trumpet at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Towson University. While studying at Towson University, Mr. Carr won several solo competitions and department awards. He has been part of various unique projects; from touring the region's historic theaters with the Peacherine Ragtime Orchestra accompanying the silent films of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, to opening for the band Reel Big Fish. In San Francisco Mr. Carr performed with several orchestras including the Symphony Parnassus, the San Francisco Academy Orchestra, and the Awesöme Orchestra. In collaboration with Undercover Presents he performed a tribute to A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders as part of the Awesöme Orchestra Collective. Now back on the East Coast Mr. Carr has been working with the Lancaster and Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestras and is a member of the Capital Wind Symphony in Washington, DC. 



Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Fellowship Program History

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:

  • 2019-2022 Fellow Shantanique Moore, flute, won a position as the African American Orchestra Fellow with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for their 2022-23 season. Ms. Moore was named the eighth OTPAAM Fellow for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons and was the first Paul J. Ross Fellow during the 2021-2022 season. 
  • 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 previously served as Principal Percussion of the Kansas City Symphony and now serves as Principal Percussion of the Grant Park Orchestra.
  • 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 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 the EQT foundation for their support of the Paul J. Ross Fellowship Program, and to the following donors for their support of $5,000 or more during the 2023/2024 season: Robin J. Bernstein, Myles & Joan Bradley, The Steven Della Rocca Memorial Fund, Myah & Jaime Irick, The Hobson Lucas Family Foundation, Gerald Lee Morosco & Paul Ford, Jr., Ms. Sandra L. Nicklas, Connie & Mike Phillips, and Harvey Weissman & Louise Eckman.

The Arts, Equity, & Education Fund and Leslie and the late Hans Fleischner also seek to inspire others who believe in the mission of the Paul J. Ross Fellowship Program by pledging funds of an additional $150,000 to be matched by new and increased gifts to the Pittsburgh Symphony specifically 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. Please contact Michaela Kizershot White at

“AE&E” “EQT”

Generous support for the Paul J. Ross Fellowship is also provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.