Applications Are Open For 91Classical Student Composer Fellowship | Nashville Public Radio

Applications Are Open For 91Classical Student Composer Fellowship

Aug 28, 2019

91Classical is launching its first Student Composer Fellowship. 

Update: The application period has ended.

Through this innovative and unique program, young composers will be given the tools, connections, and mentoring for a year of intensive focus on the craft of writing classical music.

Two local young composers (one each specializing in vocal music and instrumental music) will each be paired with a local professional composer to act as a mentor throughout the 2019/2020 school year. The students will, throughout the year, compose a piece of music to be premiered in a live broadcast on 91Classical’s show Live in Studio C in June 2020.

In addition to setting up instruction, and hosting a premiere of a new work, 91Classical will do the following:

  • Provide the fellows with access to music notation software
  • Provide connections and opportunities for the students to observe rehearsals of professional ensembles as appropriate
  • Facilitate opportunities to meet composers visiting Nashville for performances
  • Recruit local musicians as needed to premiere their new work


The Student Composer Fellowship is open to students who live in the 91Classical listening area who are entering grades 7-12 in the 2019-2020 school year. Applicants should have strong skills in reading music and have some experience writing or composing music. While applicants should have interest in a career in music, prior composition lessons are not required. Students from groups traditionally underrepresented in classical music are strongly encouraged to apply.

Application Evaluators:

  • Nina Cardona: Music Director, 91Classical
  • Kara McLeland: Host, 91Classical
  • Colleen Phelps: Host, 91Classical
  • Shawn Okpebholo: Composer and Faculty Member, Wheaton College
  • Ellen Harrison: Composer and Faculty Member, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music

Application Requirements:

  • Biographical information
  • Educational background
  • Reference for two teachers or work supervisors, one in music
  • One composition sample, represented by a notated score
  • Score should be in PDF - it may be scanned, and it may be handwritten

Note: The sample can be short, and it can be as simple as needed to demonstrate the student’s ability level.

Applications can be submitted via this Google Form.


  • July 1, 2019: Application Process Open
  • August: 31, 2019: Application Process Closed
  • September 16, 2019: Selection Process Complete
  • October 1, 2019: Fellows Announced, Mentoring Begins
  • October, 2019-May, 2020: Fellows Meet With Mentors Monthly
  • June 2, 2020: Premiere on Live in Studio C


Cristina Spinei writes music that has been described as “hypnotically rhythmic and melodically pleasing.” Active as a composer and a performer, she is in demand with dance companies and international ensembles. Spinei's collaboration with choreographers is highlighted on her debut album, Music for Dance, released by Toccata Classics in 2016. She is a co-founder of Blind Ear, a collective of composers and musicians who present technology-driven concerts. She received her BM and MM in composition from the Juilliard School where she studied with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Christopher Rouse.

David Ragland is a vocalist, arranger, composer, and pianist. He is the artistic director of Inversion Vocal Ensemble, who he has led in performances at Cheekwood Gardens, the Noah Liff Opera Center, and Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. His music arrangement for 'Nick Cave - Feat. Nashville' in 2018 was nominated for a regional Emmy award. Ragland is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and is currently a collaborative pianist at Fisk University.