Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Chicago Sinfonietta Announces 2020-21 Project Inclusion Fellows


Chicago Sinfonietta today announced the young musicians who have been selected to participate in its nationally acclaimed Project Inclusion program.

Chicago Sinfonietta Announces 2020-21 Project Inclusion Fellows

Chicago Sinfonietta today announced the young musicians who have been selected to participate in its nationally acclaimed Project Inclusion program, now in its 33rd season. With 15 fellowships awarded in the areas of Ensemble, Conducting, and Composition, the 2020-21 season program is the largest Project Inclusion class since its launch.

A natural evolution of the 33 year-old orchestra's mission, and the largest and most successful program of its kind, Project Inclusion is a nationally recognized forward-thinking nine-month program which works to help eliminate institutional bias due to factors such as ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status by bringing together talent and mentorship to further develop diverse and emerging musicians, conductors, and administrators on and off-stage. Launched in 2007 by Sinfonietta founder Maestro Paul Freeman, today Project Inclusion has expanded to address matters of diversity and inclusion from every angle. Having begun with a focus in three areas: orchestra and ensemble musicians, and arts administration, then adding conducting in 2013, this season the innovative program introduces a fifth fellowship, in composition.

"We are excited to have 15 inspiring artists join us this season," stated CEO Blake-Anthony Johnson. "While some are new to the program, and some are in their second season with us, all exhibit a passionate commitment to our field and to the mission of diversity and equity."

As part of its Conducting Freeman Fellowship, Chicago Sinfonietta selects one rising conductor to serve as Assistant Conductor to Music Director Mei-Ann Chen.

In announcing the young conductor, Maestra Chen said, "In recent seasons, a promising young conductor who has participated in Project Inclusion Fellowship is selected to serve as Assistant Conductor to a Sinfonietta season to master the multiple skills required by such a specific role. Such extension of the Fellowship program has proven to be incredibly successful in launching close to a dozen young conductors of color into professional staff conducting positions in the nation! I am happy to announce that this season's Assistant Conductor is Antoine T. Clark."

"I am delighted to serve as the assistant conductor of the Chicago Sinfonietta, a forward-leaning and dynamic orchestra that has shown an unwavering commitment to diversify classical music," stated Mr. Clark. "Project Inclusion has provided me with invaluable training that has facilitated my advancement in a field where people of color are considerably underrepresented. I am incredibly excited to play a more active role within the orchestra as it promotes music as an agent for equity and inclusion."

As Assistant Conductor, in addition to his duties assisting Maestra Chen, and receiving additional mentoring from her, Mr. Clark will have the opportunity to conduct on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert on January 18, 2021.

New to the program this season is the Project Inclusion Composing Freeman Fellowship. The inducting artist is Chicago-based Michelle Isaac. Ms. Isaac's work has been heard throughout the United States, including notable performances by Chicago Sinfonietta at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University Wind Ensemble and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Percussion Ensemble.

This season's Project Inclusion Fellows are:

Project Inclusion Orchestral Freeman Fellows

Najette Abouelhadi, cello; Fahad Awan and Allison Lovera, violin; Seth Pae, viola

Project Inclusion Ensemble Freeman Fellows

Najette Abouelhadi, cello; Fahad Awan and Allison Lovera, violin; Diego Diaz, Seth Pae and Adrienne Sherrod, viola

Project Inclusion Conducting Freeman Fellows

Alexis Enyart, Taichi Fukumura, Kyle Dickson, Yabetza Irizarry, Aaron King Vaughan, Michelle Di Russo, Glenn Alexander II

Project Inclusion Composition Freeman Fellow

Michelle Isaac

2020-21 Chicago Sinfonietta Assistant Conductor

Antoine T. Clark.

Known for his engaging presence and as an advocate for arts education, Antoine T. Clark is the founding Artistic and Music Director of the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra. A supporter of new music and interdisciplinary artistic collaborations, Mr. Clark regularly commissions new works and engages artists from various practices to create dynamic programming that inspires, fosters music education, and establishes relationships between artists and communities.

Committed to inspiring and nurturing the next generation of musicians, Mr. Clark has taught students ranging from young beginners through college music majors. Currently, he is the conductor and Music Director of the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra's Philharmonia Orchestra, Music Director of the Ohio Wesleyan University Chamber Orchestra, Music Director of the Northern Ohio University Symphony Orchestra, and adjunct instructor of woodwinds at Kenyon College. (More information can be found in the dropbox link below.)

Related Articles View More Music Stories

Buy at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More

From This Author Sarah Jae Leiber