Studies in Conducting

Salonen Conducting Fellows

The Colburn Conservatory of Music’s Negaunee Conducting Program is led by world-renowned composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen.

The Salonen Conducting Fellows will pursue either the undergraduate Conducting Diploma or a graduate Artist Diploma with a conducting emphasis. The Fellows will study directly with Salonen and serve as preparatory conductors for the flagship Colburn Orchestra. They also conduct the Zipper Outreach Orchestra, Colburn’s performing ensemble for its community engagement activities, and the Concerto Forum Showcase, an annual public concert that features soloists from the Conservatory of Music. A maximum of three students participate in the program in any given year to allow ample podium time and access to Salonen.

The Fellows develop their craft and nurture their talent through personal mentorship by Maestro Salonen. Fellows assist Maestro Salonen at the San Francisco Symphony, where they will gain significant real-world experience with a world-class orchestra, and also and serve as assistant conductors to Salonen for his international engagements with other orchestras, opera houses, tours, and festivals.

In keeping with the Colburn Conservatory model, students will receive a full scholarship to cover tuition, room, and board. The conducting program is made possible by the Negaunee Foundation, created in 1987 to celebrate and support arts and cultural institutions.

Application and Pre-Screening Videos Due: December 1, 2021
  • The prescreening videos must consist of the applicant conducting representative works of their choice from the standard orchestral repertoire.
  • Applicants should upload at least three selections.
  • Videos may be from performance or rehearsal.
  • At least one video must be shot from the back of the orchestra, to show the conductor from the front. The applicant must be clearly visible in all videos.
  • The video should represent a variety of musical styles and both artistic and technical challenges.
  • Videos should be unedited.
  • Videos must be representative of recent work.

A select number of applicants will be invited to a live audition at the Colburn School on February 4, 2022.

The audition day will include:

  • Theory/aural skill/history assessment: Applicants will participate in tiered testing in the areas of music theory, aural skills, and music history. Applicants are not expected to have levels of expertise in all areas; the assessment will provide an individualized picture of each applicant’s current knowledge and abilities.
  • Conducting audition: Applicants will have the opportunity to conduct the Colburn Orchestra. The repertoire for the conducting round will consist of Beethoven: Symphony No. 1 and Stravinsky: Concerto in E-Flat “Dumbarton Oaks.”
  • Interview with Mr. Salonen: Select applicants will have individual interviews after the conducting audition.