January 03, 2017

Catching up with the 2016 Project Inclusion Fellows

As the Grant Park Music Festival prepares for auditions for the next cohort of Project Inclusion Fellows, we had the opportunity to catch up with the 2016 String Quartet.

Three of the four fellows, violinists Alexandra Switala and Caitlin Edwards, and cellist Diana Flores, briefly reunited in September for the Festival's Advocate for the Arts Awards Benefit to perform the Finale from Saint-George's Violin Concerto in A Major with violin virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine.

Violist Rita Andrade, who was occupied with an appointment with Lincoln Stage Holland America Line at the time of the benefit performance, looks forward to being able to share the joy of classical music with communities around the world.

"The Festival was such an invaluable experience for musicians our age that encourages not only orchestral preparation, but also entrepreneurial experience" said Ms. Andrade. "I hope to create a chamber ensemble that will specialize in making YouTube videos, blogging, and eventually doing outreach concerts and residencies for people in low income countries."

Ms. Edwards and Ms. Flores are spending the next year continuing their musical training and education. Ms. Edwards is in her senior year at the University of Louisville and plans on applying to graduate school for music in the spring. Ms. Flores is currently studying under a diversity fellowship and pursuing an artist diploma with the Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and holds a substitute position with the Cincinnati Symphony.

Ms. Switala recently performed for the Festival's annual meeting this past December, playing Elgar's Salut d'amour in honor of Immediate Chair of the Board Chuck Kierscht. Ms. Switala is a finalist for the 20th annual SPHINX Competition, competing for the prestigious $50,000 Robert Frederick Smith Prize and solo appearances with major orchestras.

Auditions for the Festival's 2017 Project Inclusion Vocal and String Quartet Fellowships are underway now. Selected fellows will receive one-on-one mentoring with Artistic Director Carlos Kalmar and other members of the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, perform with the Orchestra and Chorus at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion throughout the Festival's ten week season, participate in community outreach and engagement opportunities in neighborhoods across the city, and work with the Festival Connect programs: Apprentice Chorale, Classical Campers, Pre-Concert Lectures, and Young Artist Showcase.

Fellowship applicants must be from a community or group that has been traditionally underrepresented in the symphonic choral and orchestral fields, currently enrolled in or a recent graduate of a college-level voice or string program, and 18-29 years of age as of May 30, 2017.

To learn more about Project Inclusion, visit the Festival Connect section of our website.