The Career Accelerator programme will support five string players with a professional development orchestra scheme in an aim to redress systemic imbalances within the industry

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Images from CBSO’s Project Remix scheme, a free youth ensemble

© Hannah Fathers

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The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) has announced its new Career Accelerator programme; 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. It is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Foyle Foundation.

The three-year programme will initially run from January to 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.

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. Successful candidates will be invited to attend a live audition in Birmingham.

Roger Wilson, director of operations from 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.

’It is so important for organisations to take action to redress systemic imbalances and increase access to world-class opportunities, Wilson said. ’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.’

’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,’ said CBSO chief executive Stephen Maddock. ’Change will not happen overnight, but it is happening, and this scheme is very much part of our ongoing strategy.’

‘The CBSO’s Career Accelerator programme is a step-change in our approach to representation at the CBSO,’ commented Helen Edgar, CBSO cellist and the programme’s lead musician. ’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.’