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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 2023/24 Season. Auditions will be held for violin, viola, cello and bass, 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. Applications will be accepted beginning December 5, 2022. There is no application fee for this program. 

Video audition application deadline: 11:59 pm Central Time on Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

Final audition date for selected applicants: Monday, April 24, 2023, 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 (violin, viola, cello, bass) who are attending or have graduated from college, university or conservatory and are from populations traditionally under-represented in American symphony orchestras, including, but not limited to, those who identify as Black, Latino or Indigenous.

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 $52,000 to $65,000 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