The program was initiated by GSO Music Director and Conductor Timothy Verville and GWC founder Chaowen Ting.
According to the announcement:
Participants will observe GSO rehearsals and concerts while participating in conducting workshops during three residency programs. They also will receive mentorship by GWC members and GSO’s music staff both virtually and in-person. The program is set to begin in late September and will run throughout the GSO’s full 2021-22 orchestra season.
“The aim of the fellowship program is to empower aspiring women-identifying and non-binary conductors through mentorship, training and practical opportunities to support their career development,” said Ting.
The fellowship attracted a highly competitive group of applicants from 15 countries, and of the six women chosen, four are from outside the U.S.
“They all exhibited high levels of achievement, drive and merit,” said Verville. “But in each applicant, I also saw an opportunity for us to serve them in their continued growth and development as a conductor.”
The press release for the fellowship gave the following biographies of the fellows who were selected for the program:
Those named as participants include Renatka Dworak Berlin from Charlotte, N.C. Berlin has served as a clinician with multiple ensembles in Asia, East Africa, Europe and North America. She spent two years in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she founded the Ethiopian Peace Choir. In 2020, Berlin began her doctoral studies in music education through Boston University.
Joining Berlin is Cuban-born conductor Sandra Cepero from Clarksville, Tenn. A winner of numerous awards, she has conducted orchestras in Europe, South America and the United States. Cepero currently is the assistant conductor of the Austin Peay State University Symphony Orchestra in Clarksville.
Also participating in the program is Columbian conductor Maria del Mar Goyes Rojas. Rojas is the founder and artistic director of Proyecto Mozart Orchestra, a Columbian youth orchestra. She also is the band and orchestra conductor of Escuela de Musica Desepaz, which provides free musical education to at-risk children in her native country.
Fellow JaeEun Kim, originally from South Korea, currently is a Doctor of Music candidate in conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Ind. She is an active educator who has worked with numerous music ensembles at the university and also has served as choral director at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. and Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.
Another international participant is Constança Simas from Lisbon, Portugal. Simas received her master’s in music degree from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, Wales. She has conducted the Welsh National Opera, and also is a conductor in the Young Women Opera Makers residency program of the Académie du Festival Aix-en-Provence in Aix-en-Provence, France.
The final participant in the fellowship program is Atlanta-native Catherine Willingham, who is a senior composition student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. Willingham also serves as the music director for the Berklee Motion Picture Orchestra, the school’s largest student-run ensemble.
The women conductors fellowship program is being funded in part through sponsorships from SA White Oil Company, Inc., the Atlanta NW Marriott at the Galleria Hotel, Crane Elder Law Firm, LLC and State Farm Insurance.