(Boston) The Handel and Haydn Society has named violinists Carmen Lavada Johnson-Pájaro and Amelia Sie the first ever Stone Fellows. A first of its kind among period-instrument orchestras, the Fellowship, in partnership with the New England Conservatory, will foster the development of early-career musicians whose socio-cultural identities have been historically underrepresented in the field. Johnson-Pájaro and Sie will spend the next two years learning from and performing with H+H musicians. The fellowship is made possible through a transformative $1 million gift from the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Violinist Johnson-Pájaro, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, is a community-based artist living in New York City. Raised in a family of music lovers, Carmen began her musical studies with jam sessions in the living room and eventually found her way to the world of historical performance. She’s had the opportunity to work with renowned early music figures such as Masaaki Suzuki, William Christie, Reggie Mobley, Rachel Podger, Richard Egarr, Lionel Meunier, among many others.
Beyond performing, Johnson-Pájaro’s commitment to community engagement has led to years of nonprofit work and work in schools, shelters, hospitals, and detention centers across the world. Carmen holds degrees from The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, and the Eastman School of Music, where she was a Lois Rogers and Links Scholar.
“It is an honor to be selected to be part of this historic organization through the Stone Fellowship,” said Johnson-Pájaro. “I have had the pleasure of working with several members of the H+H Orchestra and Chorus over the years and look forward to expanding my knowledge and skill under their mentorship.”
Based in New York City, Sie is a virtuosic and adventurous performer of modern and Baroque violin. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Violin Performance from New England Conservatory, and her master’s degree in Historical Performance from The Juilliard School. Sie specializes in Italian virtuoso music from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries and chamber music of the Classical to early Romantic eras.
“Watching H+H perform was a huge inspiration in my exploration as a historical performer,” said Sie. “For my career to come full circle and get to learn from and collaborate with H+H is such an honor, and I’m excited to learn and grow as an artist and human over the next two years!”
H+H launched a nationwide search this Spring, accepting applications from recent graduates of some of the top performing arts schools in America.
“Both Carmen and Amelia stood out early in the selection process, not only because of their incredible talent, dedication and knowledge but they both possess the character we strive for at H+H,” said David Snead, Philip and Marjorie Gerdine President and CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society. “We are confident that over the next two years, both musicians will become part of the fabric of the ensemble.”
The Fellowship provides an exceptional two-year learning experience, including performances, mentorship, and training with H+H musicians and partners at the New England Conservatory (NEC). Resident fellows will participate in H+H’s vibrant orchestra and be a part of Boston’s thriving music community. The fellowship launches as a centerpiece of H+H’s long-term plan to create pathways toward a more diverse and inclusive orchestra of tomorrow that better serves and reflects its community, and to foster a more equitable field on a national scale.
Development of the fellowship was an organization-wide process that included input from artistic and administrative staff, board members, and industry advisors, including Anthony Trecek-King, H+H Resident Choral Conductor; Reginald Mobley, H+H Programming Consultant; María Romero Ramos, Assistant Professor of the Practice in Violin and Baroque Violin and Director of Historical Performance at Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music; Sherri Prentiss, Founder of Artful Strategies; Stanford Thompson and Emily Master with Goldsmith Strategies; Benjamin Sosland, Provost and Dean of the New England Conservatory; Thea Boyd, Director of Artistic Administration at the New England Conservatory; and Jonathan Cohen, H+H’s new Artistic Director.
About the Handel and Haydn Society
Boston’s Grammy-winning Handel and Haydn Society is dedicated to performing Baroque and Classical music with a freshness, a vitality, and a creativity that inspires all ages. H+H has been captivating audiences for 208 consecutive seasons (the most of any performing arts organization in the United States). Today, H+H’s Orchestra and Chorus delight more than 50,000 listeners annually with a nine-week subscription series at Boston Symphony Hall and other leading venues. Through the Karen S. and George D. Levy Education Program, H+H supports seven youth choirs of singers in grades 2-12 and provides thousands of complimentary tickets to students and communities throughout Boston, ensuring the joy of music is accessible to all. H+H’s numerous free community concerts include an annual commemoration of the original 1863 Emancipation Proclamation concert on December 31. H+H has released 16 CDs on the Coro label and has toured nationally and internationally. In all these ways, H+H fulfills its mission to inspire the intellect, touch the heart, elevate the soul, and connect us with our shared humanity through transformative experiences with Baroque and Classical music.