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 4, 2023 and ends on August 31, 2025.
  • Compensation and Benefits:  
    • Minimum annual pay each season is equivalent to 21 weeks at orchestra weekly scale; for the 2023-2024 season this 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 2023.
  • Completion of a Bachelor’s Degree by September 2023 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.



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 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 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 and FedEx Ground for support of the Paul J. Ross Fellowship program, and to the following donors for their support during the 2021/2022 season: Barbara B. & Alan L. Ackerman and The Allen H. Berkman & Selma W. Berkman Charitable Trust, Robin J. Bernstein, the Musicians Care Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Mrs. Orlie S. Ferretti, Myah & Jaime Irick and Connie & Mike Phillips.

The Arts, Equity, & Education Fund and Hans and Leslie 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

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