African-American Orchestra Fellowship

The DSO inaugurated its African-American Orchestra Fellowship in 1990 and is proud to be a leader in celebrating the contributions of African-American composers, nurturing the talents of young African-American classical musicians, and increasing access and opportunity for African Americans within classical music.

The African-American Orchestra Fellowship is designed to enhance the career development of African-American musicians. Fellows perform in the orchestra, work closely with coaches and mentors, participate in mock auditions, and represent the DSO in the community.

The DSO’s current African-American Orchestra Fellow is Michael Gause, trumpet. Former Fellow Adam Sadberry, flute, recently earned a position with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

Applications are currently open for the 2020-2021 African-American Orchestra Fellowship. Please see below for more information about the application process.

The African-American Orchestra Fellowship is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In 2018, the DSO was happy to announce the expansion of the program from one Fellow to two thanks to the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

View the 2019 Fellowship Poster.

Application Process

Applications are currently open for the 2020-2021 African-American Orchestra Fellowship.

The application deadline is December 2, 2019.
Applicants will be notified of their audition invitation status by December 20, 2019.
In-person audition finals will take place in Detroit on March 9, 2020.

Applicants must submit the following:

  • The Fellowship Application Form
  • A current resume
  • Professional quality performance audio file(s) of audition excerpts and solo repertoire as listed in the Application Guidelines document below. Applicants should not state their names in their recordings.

Resumes and recordings should be submitted online during the completion of the Fellowship Application Form.

Please read the Application Guidelines for complete application details and repertoire for each instrument.

Previous Fellows 


Previous African-American Orchestra Fellows include, but are not limited to:

  • Kenneth Thompkins – Principal Trombone, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • Alexander Laing – Principal Clarinet, Phoenix Symphony
  • Douglas Cardwell – Principal Timpani, New Mexico Philharmonic
  • John Madison – Principal Viola, Michigan Opera Theatre
  • Velda Kelly – Violin, Michigan Opera Theatre
  • Derek Reeves – Principal Viola, Fort Wayne Symphony
  • Michael Robinson Jr. – Principal Trombone, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Joshua Jones – Principal Percussion, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra