Global artists picked for new Cincinnati Song Initiative fellowship

After receiving 153 applications from eight different countries, Cincinnati Song Initiative has selected the 10 performing artists to take part in its new fellowship program next spring.

Fellowship faculty had the task of identifying five singers and five pianists for the inaugural Fellowship of the Song program. Fellows will attend daily classes and receive private coaching at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music from May 19-26.

Participants are:

  • Maeve Berry, piano – Renfrew, Pa. 
  • Érico Freire Bezerra, piano – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Alexandra Hotz, soprano – Toledo, Ohio
  • Morgan Manifacier, tenor – Avignon, France
  • Jacquelyn Matava, mezzo-soprano – Farmington, Conn.
  • Claire McCahan, mezzo-soprano – Plymouth, N.H. 
  • Corinne Penner, piano – Wichita, Kan.
  • Lara Saldanha, piano – Cincinnati
  • Janani Sridhar, soprano – Singapore
  • Tzu Kuang Tan, piano – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Information about each artist is available on the CSI website.

Inaugural Fellowship of the Song cohort

All 10 artists will take the stage together for the first time on Wednesday, May 22 during a 90-minute opening concert at CCM’s Werner Recital Hall. A closing concert will take place at the same venue on Saturday, May 25.

“With the creation of the Fellowship of the Song program, Cincinnati Song Initiative is meeting a need to promote and innovate song in America,” said the organization’s founding artistic director, Samuel Martin.

“Opportunities for classical artists to hone their storytelling skills through the spellbinding genre of song are few and far between, and we’ve set off to not only create such an opportunity,” he continued, “but to create a best-in-class opportunity that has the potential to alter the course of fellows’ careers and lives.”

The cost-free Fellowship of the Song program aims to promote and innovate the song genre by empowering the next generation artists who will “carry the mantle of song in this country and throughout the world,” according to CSI.

Samuel Martin

Over the course of a week, the fellow will learn from celebrated musicians and coaches such as pianist Margo Garrett and baritone William McGraw, retired CCM voice faculty member.

Music fans will be able to enjoy all the musical action taking place during the fellowship. Beyond the free opening and closing concerts, the public can audit daily song workshops and classes, either in person or via livestream from anywhere around the world.

Those interested in participating as an auditor must register online. Registration is open now.

“Cincinnati Song Initiative is simultaneously creating a singular opportunity for singers, pianists and auditors to deepen their artistry and hone their skills, all while breaking down the historic barriers that have prevented many from participating in a program such as this,” Garrett said in a statement. “CSI has broken another glass ceiling and I am deeply honored to be a part of it.”

Bringing ‘Song’ to Cincinnati

Martin founded Cincinnati Song Initiative in 2016 as a way to bring accessible world-class music to the region. Beyond having a chance to hear singers and pianists of national renown, audiences have a chance to hear the artists discuss the relevance of the music in relation to today’s cultural and societal context in an intimate setting.

The fellowship program aims to “drastically expand” Cincinnati Song Initiative as an organization by broadening its educational arm and helping the organization reach new and more diverse audiences, Martin said.

Martin voiced gratitude to its seed sponsors for providing funding to cover the cost of the fellows’ housing, travel and daily living expenses during their time in Cincinnati.

CSI is currently accepting donations to support the 2024 fellowship. Applications for pianists and singers who want to take part in the 2025 program will open in September.

“Song is alive and well in Cincinnati, and we are honored to bring astounding artists together in this way to continue promoting and innovating this wonderful classical genre,” Martin said.

Fellowship of the Song


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