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To advance diversity, equity, and inclusion at American orchestras by expanding the numbers of emerging Black and Latinx musicians, in 2018 the League of American Orchestras, Sphinx Organization, and New World Symphony joined forces to launch the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS). An unprecedented nationwide initiative, NAAS offers Black and Latinx musicians a customized combination of mentoring, audition preparation, financial support, and audition previews. Now in its second year, NAAS has already made a substantial difference in the lives of hundreds of musicians of color and dozens of U.S. orchestras. Here’s an update.

Nineteen musicians won 22 auditions in orchestras.

Twelve musicians were placed on substitute lists or won fellowship positions with orchestras.

Five musicians won one-year contract positions with orchestras.

138 musicians have received NAAS support since 2018; support includes NAAS grants and/or participation in NAAS Audition Intensives.

Since August 2018, 261 NAAS grants have been awarded to 107 musicians, totaling $254,595.93. The grants enable musicians to take part in auditions, pursue substitute or short-term playing opportunities, or repair their instruments.

In two years, the number of Orchestra Partners providing financial contributions to support the program has nearly doubled, from 41 to 74.

In 2018-19, 68 musicians participated in five NAAS Audition Intensives for strings, low strings, and winds and brass, hosted by the New World Symphony.

The National Alliance for Audition Support is made up of The Sphinx Organization, the lead program and fiscal administrator; the New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy; and the League of American Orchestras, representing 700 orchestras. NAAS is supported by a four-year grant of $1.8 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as well as contributions from orchestras across the U.S. The Alliance is also grateful to the American Federation of Musicians, the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians, and the Regional Orchestra Players Association for their participation and support.


Caption: Emilia Mettenbrink, shown at a NAAS Audition Intensive, won a section violin position with the Minnesota Opera Orchestra in April 2019.

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