Curtis ArtistYear Fellowship Program Expands to Five Fellows in its Second Year, Funded by a Combination of Foundation, Corporate, and Individual Support; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Wells Fargo recognize Curtis’s leadership in bringing arts access and education to underserved communities; Arts-based service corps inspired by the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project and its challenge to create one million service-year positions nationwide by 2023

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Curtis ArtistYear Fellowship Program Expands to Five Fellows in its Second Year, Funded by a Combination of Foundation, Corporate, and Individual Support

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Wells Fargo recognize Curtis’s leadership in bringing arts access and education to underserved communities

Arts-based service corps inspired by the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project and its challenge to create one million service-year positions nationwide by 2023

PHILADELPHIA, PA, June 24, 2015—Following a successful launch of the Curtis ArtistYear Fellowship Program, which engaged three graduates in bringing arts access and education to underserved communities, the Curtis Institute of Music is continuing the program for a second year with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Wells Fargo, and an anonymous individual donor.

This arts-based service corps, a reflection of Curtis’s mission to prepare artist-citizens who engage communities locally and around the globe, is breaking new ground in the world of conservatories. Curtis was the first classical music organization to respond to a challenge by the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project to foster a 21st-century national service system, with a goal of one million service-year positions created by 2023.

“When students have an opportunity for this deep level of engagement with the community, it not only encourages their growth as an artist, but opens up new career pathways,” said Curtis President Roberto Díaz. “The ArtistYear Fellowship Program provides an important opportunity to develop extraordinarily talented young musicians by expanding their conception of what it means to be a musician in the 21st century. We are delighted by the success of the pilot year of this program and are so grateful for the combination of support that will allow us to do even more in Philadelphia in the year ahead.”

In the 2015–16 school year the Curtis ArtistYear Fellowship Program will expand from three to five fellows. Arlen Hlusko (Cello ’15), Anna Odell (Harp ’15), Alize Rozsnyai (Opera ’15), and Gabriella Smith (Composition ’13) begin fellowships; and Alexandra von der Embse (Oboe ’12) returns for a second year in the program. Following the model created in the pilot year, each of the fellows will guide an impact- and metric-driven program in Philadelphia, focusing on communities that do not regularly have access to art and creating a foundation for ArtistYear to scale and replicate around the region and the country.

The second year of the Curtis ArtistYear Fellowship Program is made possible with generous support from the Knight Foundation, reflecting a shared commitment to building community through the arts. Previously the Knight Foundation has endowed a student fellowship at Curtis and contributed to the renovation of historic Field Concert Hall, the leading concert stage for some of the world’s finest young musicians.

“The expectation of artistic excellence is a given for musicians today. They also need to communicate with and engage people off and on the stage,” said Victoria Rogers, vice president for arts at Knight Foundation. “They need to become a part of the fabric of their communities, as this fellowship gives them the opportunity to do.”

Support also comes from Wells Fargo, a dedicated partner to community development in Philadelphia. Earlier this year, Curtis students, faculty, and staff partnered with Wells Fargo and City Year Philadelphia for a day of service on Martin Luther King Day. Working at South Philadelphia High School, a school with a rich musical history and famous graduates that include Marian Anderson, Mario Lanza, Chubby Checker, and Philadelphia Orchestra musicians, the Curtis group helped revitalize the school’s music room by cleaning, painting, and organizing materials, in preparation for a relaunch of the music program. With support from Wells Fargo, a dedicated Curtis ArtistYear Fellow will help rebuild the music program at South Philadelphia High School and work with the newly hired, full-time general music teacher to begin in Fall 2015.
Read coverage of Curtis’s efforts to revitalize South Philadelphia High School in the South Philly Review.

The Curtis ArtistYear Fellowship Program grew out of a challenge issued by the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project, which has invited institutions of higher education to join in creating a system of national service that calls upon every young person between the ages of 18 and 28 to serve for one year. Curtis’s ArtistYear Fellowship Program provides an annual service allowance and living stipend, medical insurance, and monthly professional development opportunities. In return, the fellows commit to full-time work serving the Philadelphia community through music, frequently collaborating with local partners such as City Year, Teach For America, and AmeriCorps.

During the 2014–15 school year, the inaugural Curtis ArtistYear Fellows engaged young people in the Philadelphia community through programs that fostered creative expression and introduced them to the power of music. Michelle Cann (Piano ’13) created a program for eighth-graders at Harrity Elementary in West Philadelphia designed to strengthen confidence, encourage collaborations within the school community, and develop leadership skills, while preparing them to mentor first-graders through the shared study of piano. At St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in North Philadelphia, Wade Coufal (Bassoon ’14) worked one-on-one with over 75 patients, from infants to 20-year-olds, helping them learn about and create music during their treatment. And Alexandra von der Embse (Oboe ’12) empowered students at Taggart Elementary School in South Philadelphia to compose their own music, collaborating with composers and instrumentalists to develop their personal voices and critical thinking skills.


The 2014–15 ArtistYear Fellows discuss their projects and why music matters with WRTI.

One of the world’s finest and most selective conservatories, the Curtis Institute of Music offers a tuition-free, performance-inspired learning culture to 175 students from all corners of the world. Nurtured by a celebrated faculty, its extraordinary young musicians graduate to join 4,000 alumni who have long made music history. Curtis alumni personify the school’s commitment to excellence—onstage and in their communities—inventing careers with impact.

Recent civic-minded graduates include violinist Adrian Anantawan, an internationally respected performer and teacher dedicated to helping young people with disabilities make music; Joseph Conyers, assistant principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra and director and founder of Project 440, which trains young musicians to serve their communities through classical music via industry-specific mentoring and training programs; and Stanford Thompson, CEO of Play On, Philly!, the El Sistema-inspired program that provides opportunities for personal development to children through the study of music.

A busy schedule of performances, including more than 200 a year in Philadelphia and around the world, is at the heart of Curtis’s distinctive “learn by doing” approach. Dedicated to a tradition of excellence and innovation since its founding in 1924, Curtis is looking toward its centenary in a flexible and forward-thinking way, evolving strategically to engage global communities and prepare artist-citizens for the musical landscape of today, as well as to anticipate the landscape to come.

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities, and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

Wells Fargo & Company is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.7 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 8,700 locations, 12,500 ATMs, and the internet ( and mobile banking, and has offices in 36 countries to support customers who conduct business in the global economy. With approximately 266,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States. Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 29 on Fortune’s 2014 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In 2014, Wells Fargo donated $281.2 million in grants to 17,100 nonprofits, and team members volunteered 1.74 million hours around the country. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially. Wells Fargo perspectives are also available at Wells Fargo Blogs and Wells Fargo Stories.

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