San Francisco Ballet Partners with San Francisco Conservatory of Music to Create New Fellowship

San Francisco Ballet Partners with San Francisco Conservatory of Music to Create New Fellowship

San Francisco Ballet (SF Ballet) and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) have announced a fellowship that will provide Black musicians with tuition, housing, and a stipend for SFCM’s one-year Professional Studies Certificate in Instrumental Performance. They will also be given the opportunity to rehearse and perform with the Grammy Award-winning SF Ballet Orchestra, as well as other training and support.

The fellowship is named after SF Ballet’s former Music Director Denis de Coteau, who also served on faculty at SFCM. “I am pleased to honor the legacy of Dr. de Coteau by supporting this unique partnership to develop well-rounded artists, trained in his winning style: a rare combination of warmth and professional technique,” shared sponsor Denise Littlefield Sobel.

Applications for the fellowship are now open and must be submitted no later than midnight on February 1, 2022. SF Ballet and SFCM anticipate accepting up to two fellows in string instruments for the initial year of the program, which starts in fall 2022. Applicants will be evaluated by a joint committee of musicians and administrators from both organizations. There is no fee to apply.

“We are tremendously excited to partner with the SFCM on this project,” said SF Ballet Orchestra Music Director Martin West. “By welcoming the fellows into our Orchestra we hope to give them extraordinary experiences that will help them be successful in their careers and begin building a pipeline to better diversify our profession.” 

The fellowship is named for Denis de Coteau, who joined SF Ballet in 1968 and served as its music director and conductor from 1974 to 1998 before being appointed music director emeritus in recognition of his leadership of the ballet orchestra, considered to be one of the finest in the world. He was also conductor emeritus and a faculty member at SFCM and was known for his work with youth orchestras, including the Oakland Youth Symphony. De Coteau died in July 1999. 

In addition to practicing and performing with the SF Ballet Orchestra, each fellow will participate in chamber concerts, leadership training, and activities with local schools. They will be invited to mock auditions and will receive financial support for professional auditions. As part of the SFCM certificate program, each fellow will participate in advanced, focused studies that emphasize individual instruction and preparation for a performance career. 

Fellows will live in SFCM’s new Bowes Center, a 12-story “vertical campus” home to three performance halls, practice rooms, a recording studio, residences for students and visiting artists, and more. The Bowes Center is located in San Francisco’s Civic Center, across the street from SF Ballet’s performance address at the War Memorial Opera House and within a short walk of its Chris Hellman Center for Dance.

“It is a thrilling time to celebrate Denis de Coteau and his transformational leadership, and to cultivate the next generation of talent within the Ballet’s halls,” said SF Ballet’s Chief Diversity Officer Rob Sánchez Nelson. SFCM Dean Jonas Wright added, “It’s the first program of its kind of which we’re aware, and it demonstrates a forward step in inventing the future of music by being imaginative about how arts organizations work together as educators and presenters.”

To apply or request more information on the new SF Ballet & SFCM Fellowship, please email

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