Announcing The Gilmore Festival Fellows Program

January 27, 2021

In furtherance of its goal to promote world-class piano performance and to advance the future of the art form, The Gilmore announces a new career-advancement initiative, The Gilmore Festival Fellowship residency program, which will offer five-day residencies to classical pianists aged 18 or older during the biennial Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, starting in 2022. Essential, residency-related expenses for Fellows are funded entirely by The Gilmore. Applications open today—Wednesday, January 27, 2021—and remain open until 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, December 15, 2021.

The Gilmore Festival Fellowship program is made possible through the  generous support of the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne.

Upon acceptance into the program, each Fellow will be invited to attend a residency at the 2022 Festival in a collaborative environment with fellow participants. The curriculum will include multiple master classes with Festival artists and faculty and a range of workshops designed to develop the diverse skills—artistic, financial, and social—needed to build a successful career as a pianist.

Executive and Artistic Director of The Gilmore, Pierre van der Westhuizen, said:

“Competition victories no longer guarantee a career. Today’s most successful artists know much more than the music. They know how to navigate the industry, build their own audiences, take more programming risks, and cultivate an extensive network of peers and collaborators. Our new Festival Fellowship takes a holistic approach to the art, the business, and the person, with the goal of preparing a new generation of pianists for real life as a concert pianist in the 21st century.”


Fellows will choose one of three, five-day residency sessions to attend during the Festival—each session overseen by a different Artist Teacher in Residence. In 2022, these sessions are:

  • Session #1: April 27 – May 1: Artist Teacher in Residence Paul Schenly, Artistic Director of PianoFest in the Hamptons and the Cleveland International Piano Competition
  • Session #2: May 2–6: Artist Teacher in Residence Michelle Cann, Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies, Curtis Institute of Music
  • Session #3: May 6–10: Artist Teacher in Residence Ingrid Fliter, 2006 Gilmore Artist

Over the course of each session, Fellows will develop their technique and musical understanding through daily coaching with their Artist Teacher, as well as by participating in and observing master classes with renowned artists and faculty. Each Fellow will be given two or three opportunities to participate in the latter. Fellows will also have an all-access pass to attend Festival concerts, artist interviews, lectures, and talks, and have the opportunity to meet and talk with Festival artists. (Master class clinicians to be announced January 2022.)

In workshops and career-coaching sessions, Fellows will learn to navigate the business side of a successful career in the arts. Among the topics to be addressed are the entrepreneurial mindset, soft skills, non-linear career paths, and new approaches to building diverse income streams while developing a position as a thought leader in one’s field.

The Fellowship will also address the personal and interpersonal challenges of life as a concert pianist. Wellness sessions with guest experts will offer Fellows self-care strategies that are essential to sustaining the physical and mental health demands of a professional concert career. Networking and relationship building will be emphasized through numerous opportunities for Fellows to personally engage with Festival artists, their Artist Teacher, guest speakers (including via one-on-one sessions), and their colleagues attending the residency. Additionally, throughout the week, residency offerings will emphasize the unique power of today’s artists to use their voices and platforms to support social justice and positively impact their communities.

Guest speakers during the 2022 Festival Fellowship residencies include:

  • Jonathan Biss , 2002 Gilmore Young Artist (Session #3). Mr. Biss, the author and narrator of a recent Audible Original about the experience of immersing himself in the music of Beethoven for more than a decade, will talk about his life and the impact of this composer on his art and career.
  • Oni Buchanan, poet, pianist, and Founder and Director of Ariel Artists (Session #2). Ms. Buchanan will present a lecture on music management and running one’s own business.
  • Amanda Cook, Editor in Chief of I Care if You Listen (Sessions #1, 2, and 3). Ms. Cook will lead coaching sessions on writing about music and marketing oneself as a pianist
  • Lara Downes, pianist, arts advocate, and host of NPR Music’s AMPLIFY with Lara Downes (Sessions #1 and 2). Ms. Downes will lead Fellows through a lecture and coaching session on project-driven careers.
  • Aaron Dworkin, social entrepreneur, performing artist, filmmaker, philanthropist, Founder of the Sphinx Organization, and Professor of Arts Leadership & Entrepreneurship, University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (Session #3). Mr. Dworkin will present a lecture on the entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Eunbi Kim, pianist and Co-Founder of bespoken (Session #1). Ms. Kim will discuss creative entrepreneurship, leadership, and finding one’s authentic voice as a pianist and artist.
  • Additional speakers to be announced 

Each speaker will also lead a workshop that allows Fellows to learn through a more in-depth and interactive experience.


Application Details

Applications will be reviewed by an expert panel of educators, administrators, and performers. All accepted Festival Fellows must meet the following conditions:

  • Be able to travel to and remain in Kalamazoo, Michigan for the five-day duration of the chosen session.
  • Be over the age of 18 by April 1, 2022.
  • Participate in at least two master classes, attend all private lessons, attend all session lectures, and attend at least one Festival performance. 

Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET, December 15, 2021. Applicants will be informed of their acceptance no later than January 15, 2022.

Learn more about the program and apply for it here.

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