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Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Fellowship Program

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The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is pleased to announce auditions for the CSO Fellowship Program for the 2024/25 Season. Auditions will be held for violin, viola, and cello, from which up to three CSO Fellows may be chosen. 

CSO Fellows will rehearse and perform in a major symphony orchestra setting, work with top conductors, and receive training and mentorship from CSO musicians. The program’s objective is to help early-career musicians become better equipped to win auditions with top US orchestras, including the CSO. The CSO Fellowship Program launched in the 2022/23 season and is the newest in a series of programs developed and supported by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA) that assists early-career musicians from all backgrounds that have a demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion as they seek a career in classical music performance. These programs include the Percussion Scholarship Program, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative and Sphinx Orchestral Partners Auditions. 

Applications will be accepted beginning January 15, 2024. There is no application fee for this program. 

Video audition application deadline: 11:59 pm Central Time on Monday, March 25, 2024.

Final audition date for selected applicants: Monday, April 29, 2024, at Symphony Center in Chicago. Finalists will receive round-trip domestic transportation and up to two nights’ accommodation.

Program Eligibility

The CSO Fellowship Program is open to outstanding early-career string players from all backgrounds who are attending or have graduated from college, university or conservatory and are committed to fostering a culture of equity, inclusion, and belonging, or have overcome adversity in their path to the performing arts. 

Additionally, applicants must have US citizenship, permanent US residency or an 0-1 or OPT visa at the time of application and must be a member in good standing of the American Federation of Musicians or willing to join the AFM if accepted to the fellowship.

Participants in the CSO Fellowship Program must be fully vaccinated and up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations according to the definitions of the Centers for Disease Control. Audition finalists will be asked to provide proof of their vaccination status prior to participating in the final auditions.

Rehearsal, Performance and Learning Opportunities

CSO Fellows will rehearse and perform with the CSO for 20 weeks per season between September and August; additional CSO weeks, as well as additional extra work, are possible.

CSO Fellows will have the same contractual working conditions as extra or substitute musicians with the CSO.

CSO Fellows will receive up to 10 private one-hour lessons per season with a CSO member or members who agree to offer private lessons.

CSO Fellows may be invited to extend their fellowship for up to two additional years. Invitations for subsequent years, if made, will be extended by January 15; a fellow must accept or decline the invitation no later than February 15.


CSO Fellows will be compensated from $63,000 - $74,000 per season, less statutory deductions, depending on the number of services played and based on the compensation for substitute and extra musicians as dictated by the CSO’s collective bargaining agreement.

Each CSO Fellow will receive air transportation or mileage reimbursement for ground transportation for the initial move to Chicago, as well as a one-time relocation payment of $2,500 for those moving to Chicago from outside the Chicagoland area.

CSO Fellows will be offered transportation assistance to attend up to two auditions per year for full-time employment with other US orchestras.

Questions? Please contact Anne MacQuarrie at