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New Jersey Symphony Orchestra launches
NJSO Colton Fellowship for musicians from underrepresented communities

originally published: 04/22/2019

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra launches NJSO Colton Fellowship for musicians from underrepresented communities

(NEWARK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has announced the NJSO Colton Fellowship designed to support musicians from underrepresented communities. This initiative continues the NJSO’s commitment to being a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion in the orchestra field. The NJSO will launch the multiyear program with a pilot for up to two string players in the 2019–20 season. The fellowship is made possible by a generous founding gift of $1 million from Judith and Stewart Colton.

The NJSO Colton Fellows will experience the full breadth of the NJSO musician experience of statewide service to people of all ages—performing in all mainstage concerts, education programs and chamber music performances across the state. Fellows will also participate in a series of professional development activities tailored to their individual career goals.

The NJSO Colton Fellowship grew out of the Orchestra’s continuing commitment to transforming all aspects of the organization to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves.

“I am very much looking forward to welcoming our new colleagues to the NJSO next season,” says NJSO Music Director Xian Zhang. “This fellowship continues and strengthens our commitment to showcasing diverse voices on stage here in New Jersey.”

“The musicians of the Orchestra are looking forward to the launch of the NJSO Colton Fellowship and are excited to select and welcome two talented fellows in joining us for the 2019–20 concert season,” NJSO Assistant Concertmaster and Orchestra Committee Chair David Southorn says. “We are grateful for the generous gift that made this fellowship possible and hope this is just the beginning of what we believe will ultimately be a successful and meaningful program for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.”

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Judith and Stewart Colton say: “We are pleased to assist the NJSO in its fellowship program to provide opportunities for musicians of diverse backgrounds.”

“Inspired by Xian and our musicians’ leadership and devotion to representing diverse voices on stage, we are so proud to be partnering with Judith and Stewart Colton to bring this dynamic and leading fellowship to the Orchestra,” says NJSO President & CEO Gabriel van Aalst.

“The NJSO has been a longtime partner of the Sphinx Organization, and we are excited to see the Orchestra take on a leadership role in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion in our sector,” says Sphinx Organization President and Artistic Director Afa S. Dworkin. “We are hopeful that the new model of the fellowship will address some core objectives which are reflective of Sphinx’s work, by offering a meaningful opportunity for first-rate musicians of color as they embark on their musical careers.”

A member of the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS), an unprecedented national initiative to increase diversity in American orchestras, the NJSO is also helping to remove financial barriers to the audition process. NAAS is made up of the Sphinx Organization, New World Symphony and the League of American Orchestras.

League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen says: “We’re delighted that research from the League’s Forty Years of Fellowships study was a basis for the new NJSO Colton Fellowship, and we commend Xian Zhang and the entire New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for their initiatives aimed at making their organization more inclusive.”

The NJSO will hold auditions for the pilot season of the NJSO Colton Fellowship during the week of June 3. For fellowship eligibility and application details, visit

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Named “a vital, artistically significant musical organization” by The Wall Street Journal, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra embodies that vitality through its statewide presence and critically acclaimed performances, education partnerships and unparalleled access to music and the Orchestra’s superb musicians.

Music Director Xian Zhang—a “dynamic podium presence” The New York Times has praised for her “technical abilities, musicianship and maturity”—continues her acclaimed leadership of the NJSO. The Orchestra presents classical, pops and family programs, as well as outdoor summer concerts and special events. Embracing its legacy as a statewide orchestra, the NJSO is the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and regularly performs at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick, Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank, Richardson Auditorium in Princeton, Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown and bergenPAC in Englewood. Partnerships with New Jersey arts organizations, universities and civic organizations remain a key element of the Orchestra’s statewide identity.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the NJSO presents a suite of education and community engagement programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music. Programs include school-time Concerts for Young People; NJSO Youth Orchestras family of student ensembles, led by José Luis Domínguez; and El Sistema-inspired NJSO CHAMPS (Character, Achievement and Music Project). NJSO musicians annually perform original chamber music programs at community events in a variety of settings statewide through the NJSO Community Partners program.

For more information, visit or email

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s programs are made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, along with many other foundations, corporations and individual donors.

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Event calendar
Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019


AUGIE MEYERS AND THE BANDOLEROS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

TAAC Poetry Cafe @ 1867 Sanctuary Arts and Culture Center, Ewing - 5:30pm

A Night with Janis Joplin @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm


East Lynne Theater Company presents ARSENIC AND OLD LACE @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

Auditions: Madeline's Christmas @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 7:00pm


ANDREW DICE CLAY: LIVE IN CONCERT @ The Wellmont Theater, Montclair - 7:00pm


Spaghetti Western Wednesday @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 7:00pm


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