Diversity Fellowship Program
Institution to welcome Diversity Fellows through new Cincinnati partnerships
Chautauqua Institution is pleased to announce the establishment of the Chautauqua Diversity Fellows Program, an expansion of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music’s (CCM) groundbreaking Diversity Fellowship Program for pre-professional underrepresented musicians. Through the new partnership, up to five fellows will be selected each year from within the Cincinnati Diversity Fellowship Program to participate in an eight-week summer residency at Chautauqua, beginning with the 2018 season.
“Inclusiveness — of race, gender, sexuality, ideas — is the Chautauqua ideal. We aim to be a leading force in evolving the field of symphony orchestras by diversifying the makeup of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra and investing in inclusion,” said Deborah Sunya Moore, vice president of performing and visual arts at Chautauqua Institution. “By making it a priority to help musicians from underrepresented communities early in their careers, the Institution hopes to be instrumental in their ability to compete for and win jobs in American orchestras. Diversity in the arts changes lives not only for the artist but also for audiences.”
Launched in 2015 with a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Cincinnati Diversity Fellowship Program is open to violin, viola, cello and double bass players from populations that are historically underrepresented in classical music. Fellows perform the equivalent of five weeks per season with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra while enrolled in a two-year Master of Music or Artist Diploma degree program at CCM. Each class of fellows is selected through a rigorous series of auditions by hundreds of graduate-level musicians for CCM faculty members.
As many as five Cincinnati Diversity Fellows will be selected annually to participate in the summer residency with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, with frequent performance opportunities in the Institution’s 4,400-seat Amphitheater. The fellows will be mentored by the orchestra’s professional musicians, who come to Chautauqua each summer from a variety of home ensembles around the world. In addition, fellows will mentor minority student musicians in Chautauqua’s Music School Festival Orchestra, and offer performances designed to engage the broader Chautauqua community. Chautauqua Diversity Fellows will be provided housing and receive a stipend to offset their expenses.
“The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and CCM are determined to advance diversity on orchestra stages and this new partnership will provide a significant boost to efforts both here and at the Chautauqua Institution,” said Jonathan Martin, president of the orchestra. “We are so pleased to now be working together with them in addition to CCM, on this important initiative.”
According to CCM Interim Dean bruce mcclung, “The Chautauqua Institution partnership provides the opportunity for our fellows to continue playing alongside and being mentored by professional musicians during the summer months, thereby enhancing the experience-based education that is at the heart of the Cincinnati Diversity Fellowship program.”
2021 Diversity Fellows
Edna Pierce is a native from the Cincinnati, Ohio area and she has recently graduated with a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), where she studied viola under the tutelage of Dr. Catharine Lees. While completing her studies, Edna has been an active musician for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Diversity Fellowship. Edna has been involved in programs such as the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS) Audition Intensive, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Cincinnati Young Artist Chamber workshop, and the National Orchestral Institute and Festival (NOI+F).With her involvement in the Cincinnati Symphony, Edna has even commissioned a new work written by Rhiannon Giddens called Viola Fanfare, for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Fanfare Project. In addition to her love for the orchestra and playing viola, Edna has sought out opportunities to expand her endeavors by completing a minor in Spanish language, narrating an audiobook, and most importantly, spending meaningful time with friends and family.
Max Oppeltz started playing the cello at the age of four as a student of El Sistema in Caracas, Venezuela. As a part of the world-renowned music program, Oppeltz played in the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, the Chacao Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Caracas Municipal Orchestra. He studied with Cesar Noguera, Marek Gajzler and German Marcano. He also participated in numerous master classes with cellists such as Natalia Gutman and Phillip Muller.
In 2014, Oppeltz moved to the U.S. to study at the Juilliard School with Professor Richard Aaron. As an undergraduate student, Oppeltz participated in several lessons and master classes with cellist Franz Helmerson and studied chamber music with musicians such as Roger Tapping, Sam Rhoades, Sylvia Rosenberg and Jerome Lowenthal. In 2016, Oppeltz was fortunate to attend the Music Academy of the West, the highlights of which were taking lessons with Lynn Harrel and performing alongside faculty Warren Jones and Kathleen Winkler.
In 2018, Oppeltz moved to Denver to study at the Lamont School of Music as a Newman Graduate Fellow under Matthew Zalkind. While in Denver, he was fortunate to perform alongside faculty both at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music and at the Denver Chamber Music Festival. For this last year, he has been fortunate to be a part of the CCM/CSO Diversity Fellowship, receiving the highest quality orchestral training playing for and along members of the CSO.
Oppeltz is extremely grateful to be playing on a 1880 French cello from the Caussin School, generously loaned by the Virtu Foundation.
Born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida, Amy Nickler began playing the violin at age six. Six years later she switched to the double bass and has loved it ever since. She would have never discovered her love of music without the help from the public magnet school programs. In recent years, Amy has participated as a member and fellow in several festivals and orchestras such as the The Cincinnati Symphony, The Chautauqua Symphony, The South Florida Symphony, The Orchestra NOW, Oslo Kammerakademi, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and among various others. In July 2016, Amy was a winner of the Concerto Competition honoring Ida Haendel with the opportunity to perform as a soloist in the New World Center with the Miami Music Festival Orchestra.
Aside from performing, Amy enjoys her time as a teaching artist for the Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc and for the Music Festival by the Volta Music Foundation in Havana, Cuba. Amy received her Bachelor of Music Degree at Lynn Conservatory in 2017 with professor Timothy Cobb and she received her Master of Music Degree at Yale University with Professor Donald Palma in 2019. Amy is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma with Professor Owen Lee as a Diversity Fellow at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
Born in Havana, Cuba, violinist Yan Izquierdo enjoys a multifaceted, cross-genre music career with extensive performance experience throughout North America and Europe. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Miami University Symphony Orchestra and the College of Charleston Orchestra. He has attended the Aspen Music Festival, Le Domain Forget, and performed at Piccolo Spoleto with members of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. He was a featured national anthem performer during an NCAA National Invitation Tournament finals game at Madison Square Garden.
As an orchestral musician, he has performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of New York, and the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas, with notable appearances at Carnegie Hall, David Geffen Hall, Kimmel Center, Kennedy Center and Meyerson Symphony Center. He participated in the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas “Music Without Borders” North American concert tour, which included educational programs with youth symphonies in Mexico City, culminating in a joint concert televised by the Televisa network.
Equally at home in non-classical styles, he was a founding member of Shayna and the Catch, acting as a songwriter, violinist, mandolinist and backing vocalist. The band toured extensively throughout the United States and Canada, including appearances at SXSW, CMJ Music Marathon, Summerfest and Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration. His songs have been featured on CSI: NY, The Real World and an international Ford commercial campaign.
Yan received a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as a recipient of the CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship. His principal teachers include Kurt Sassmannshaus, Giora Schmidt, Timothy Lees, Lee Chin Siow and Garrett Fischbach.
Third-year Violin Fellow Scott Jackson is an accomplished performer, having competed in numerous competitions and selected as a semi-finalist in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Sphinx competitions. In 2015 he was accepted into a fellowship position with the Grant Park Symphony in Chicago, where he performed extensively with both the orchestra as well as a member of the PI String Quartet. In 2017 he received his doctorate of musical arts degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and spent the year performing with All of the Above, a six-person new music ensemble in residence at Xavier University.
Mr. Jackson currently performs in several orchestras and ensembles, including the Dayton Philharmonic and Las Vegas Philharmonic. He has also been invited for the past four years to play with the Sphinx Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra for its six-week tours across the United States. Mr. Jackson is a founding member of the Price Hill String Quartet, which performed regularly in Cincinnati and earned a grant from ArtsWave, the nation’s largest community campaign for the arts. In 2017 he joined the faculty of Porterville Summer Strings, an intensive two-week music festival in Porterville, California, as both a performer and teacher. As the violinist in All of the Above, Mr. Jackson recently performed at Carnegie Hall as part of a New Music Fusion Festival before recording its first musical collaboration shortly after: a full-length album featuring the music of Edward Smaldone and Douglass Knehans.