Press Story

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra today launches the recruitment for its new CBSO Career Accelerator programme. Supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Foyle Foundation, this is a long-term paid career development programme that will support five early-career string musicians from under-represented backgrounds through performance, training and development opportunities to help kick-start a career in orchestral performance.

The three-year programme will initially run from January – July 2023 and the String Fellows will be offered a minimum of 60 days freelance work with the CBSO including opportunities to perform alongside the full orchestra, smaller chamber work, Learning & Engagement activities, audition coaching and one-to-one mentoring, as well as wider engagement in the CBSO’s work. The Career Accelerator also features a tailored training package to help develop the skills required of a 21st century orchestral musician.

The CBSO is delighted that Roger Wilson, Director of Operations, Black Lives in Music will be working with the orchestra as a consultant on the Career Accelerator programme, which is aimed at musicians from currently under-represented backgrounds in the orchestral world, including musicians from the Global Majority; those from lower socio-economic backgrounds; Deaf, Disabled, or neurodivergent musicians; those from LGBTQ+ community; and those from marginalised genders.

Stephen Maddock, CBSO Chief Executive said: ‘I’m delighted that we are announcing this important new scheme today. There is a great deal of work to be done to ensure that there are opportunities for everyone within classical music and all of us at the CBSO are committed to playing our part in that. Change will not happen overnight, but it is happening, and this scheme is very much part of our ongoing strategy which also includes the opening of the new Shireland CBSO Academy in Sandwell in September 2023.’

Helen Edgar, Cellist at CBSO and Lead Musician for the programme said: ‘The CBSO’s Career Accelerator programme is a step-change in our approach to representation at the CBSO. Our sector is not yet representative of contemporary society and we are grateful to the programme’s supporters for helping us make an important impact on our own work and the future of the sector. We look forward to appointing our Career Accelerator Fellows and working with them in future. Alongside the wide range of activity they will undertake, the CBSO is also looking to reflect on our own practices to ensure that we listen, respond, and make change to ensure a more inclusive future for our sector.’

Roger Wilson, Director of Operations, Black Lives in Music said: ‘It is so important for organisations to take action to redress systemic imbalances and increase access to world-class opportunities. This is starting to happen across the orchestral sector, and Black Lives in Music are proud to see the CBSO making steps towards positive change.’

Applications for violin, viola, cello, and double bass players will open soon and be announced and promoted via the CBSO’s website and social media and successful candidates will be invited to attend a live audition in Birmingham.

The CBSO’s Career Accelerator programme is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Foyle Foundation.