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 Fellows are Harper Randolph, viola, and Luciano Valdes, percussion. 

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

Application Process

The African American Fellowship program will be accepting applications for its next rotation soon. Audition information is posted here on the Auditions and Employment page. For previous audition information please view the 2019 Fellowship Poster.

Previous Fellows

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

Doug Cardwell
Douglas Cardwell – Principal Timpani, New Mexico Philharmonic

Velda Kelly
Velda Kelly – Violin, Detroit Opera

Romona Merritt v2
Romona Merritt – Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Freelance Musician

Caen Thomason-Redus – Flute; VP of Inclusion and Learning, League of American Orchestras

Alexander Davis – Bassoon, Former Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; Freelance Musician

Alexander Laing – Principal Clarinet, Phoenix Symphony

Derek Reeves
Derek Reeves – Principal Viola, Fort Wayne Symphony

Kenneth Thompkins 2
Kenneth Thompkins – Principal Trombone, DSO

Geoffrey Johnson – Oboe, Former Acting Second Oboe, DSO; Detroit Freelance Musician

John Madison
John Madison – Principal Viola, Detroit Opera

Michael Robinson Jr
Michael Robinson Jr. – Principal Trombone, Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra

Josh Jones
Joshua Jones – Principal Percussion, Grant Park Music Festival

Garrett McQueen – Bassoon, Digital Content; Radio Producer

Adam Sadberry 2
Adam Sadberry – Acting Principal Flute, Memphis Symphony Orchestra