November 15, 2022

CIM catches 12 rising stars for 2023 Future of Music Faculty Fellowship

A collage of the 12 Future of Music Faculty Fellows
Top, L to R: Adan Fernandez, Alicia Romero-Sardiñas, Ana Laura González, April Hamm; Mid: Christophe Jackson, Sakinah Davis, Luís Armando Rivera, Demetrius Robinson; Bottom: Emorja Roberson, Hermann Hudde Chacin, Leaha Maria Villarreal, Danielle Davis

If ever there were a “dream team” of musical academics, this is it.

On Tuesday, the Cleveland Institute of Music announced the 12 scholars named to its 2023 Future of Music Faculty Fellowship (FMFF), a one-of-a-kind program nurturing the academic careers of young Black and Latinx professionals and a cornerstone in CIM’s wide-ranging commitment to changing the face of classical music.

The new cohort, the most selective to date, includes some of the finest young minds in music today, a diverse slate of talented performers, students, administrators and college or music school faculty.  

“Pay attention to these names,” said Scott Harrison, vice president and provost of CIM. “Every member of this class is going places. I have no doubt that within a few years, after this fellowship, they’ll be the inspiring leaders of tomorrow at universities, conservatories and other organizations all over the country.” 

With just 12 fellows, the 2023 FMFF class is distinctly smaller than the inaugural class in 2021-22, which had 35. This was a deliberate choice by CIM to foster a close-knit group and offer participants focused, individual attention.  

It is no less accomplished, however. Among the 2023 class are award-winning performers, educators, composers and researchers from all over the country, experts in a broad array of musical, scientific and social subject matters.   

The core mission of FMFF is to generate cultural and social diversity among classical music thought leaders. Fellows will expand their emerging skills and professional networks to succeed in the lecture halls, boardrooms and concert spaces of tomorrow. 

“We have honest and impactful conversations about what it means to be Black or Latinx in the classical music space,” said Joan Maze, program manager and lead facilitator at FMFF. “The whole point is to make sure [fellows] know and understand the value of their perspective and have the tools to capitalize on that value.”  

The 2023 fellowship will include both virtual and in-person components. The program commences in Detroit in January at the Sphinx Connect Conference. After that comes four virtual sessions led by or featuring composer José Antonio Bowen, senior fellow for the American Association of Colleges and Universities; Ronald Crutcher, president emeritus of Wheaton College; Eduardo Herrera, associate professor of folklore and musicology at Indiana University; and Maurice Wheeler, professor in the department of information science at the University of North Texas.  

The fellowship concludes in June with a networking event at CIM. After that, fellows return to their respective careers, inspired and emboldened to make their voices heard and guide the nation’s cultural conversations.  

“My experience in the inaugural class of FMFF was really illuminating,” said violinist Alex Gonzalez, newly appointed to the faculty at the University of Colorado Boulder. “As I enter my new role as a professor, I feel more than prepared to empower the next generation of artists.” 

For more information about the 2023 FMFF, visit  


Future of Music Faculty Fellowship 2023 Sessions 

  • Saturday, February 25: Navigating the Academic Job Market and Search Process as a Person of Color 

  • Saturday, March 25: The Politics of Academia and Influencing at All Levels 

  • Saturday, April 22: Effective Teaching and Peak Performance 

  • Saturday, May 20: Setting Yourself Up for Advancement and Tenure Success 


2023 Future of Music Faculty Fellows 

Danielle Davis (she/her/hers) is a violist and doctoral candidate at Florida State University. She is music director of the FSU Middle Eastern World Music Ensemble. A member of the American Studies Association, the Gertrude Robinson Network for Black Ethnomusicologists and the Society for Ethnomusicology, her research interests are public popular music pedagogy, Afrofuturism and the music of the Arab world.  

Sakinah Davis (she/her/hers) holds degrees in vocal studies from Spelman College and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. She is currently assistant professor of voice and director of opera workshop at Xavier University of Louisiana. She is a resident artist with OperaCréole. Her research interests include ethnomusicology, Spanish language vocal repertoire and African Diaspora studies.   

Adan Fernandez (he/him/his) is an organist, tenor, conductor and writer. He is university organist at California Lutheran University, director of music and liturgy at Holy Family Catholic Church in Glendale and associate conductor of the National Children’s Chorus. He has sung with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and is a dean in the American Guild of Organists. He holds a DMA in sacred music from the University of Southern California.  

Ana Laura González (she/her/hers) is assistant professor of flute and music theory at Hartwick College. She is an avid chamber musician and co-founder of the Windstruck Duo with percussionist Julie Licata. She holds degrees from the University of Arizona, Ohio University and the National Conservatory of Buenos Aires. Her research interests include Argentinean academic music and flute works by Latin American composers.  

April Hamm (they/them/their) is a church musician who has shared music and wellness programs with thousands across the Southeast through The Hamm Institute’s Center for Musical Development and Wellness and The Jim-Ree African American Museum of Northeast Georgia, which they co-founded. They hold degrees from Emory University and the University of New Orleans.  

Hermann Hudde Chacin (he/him/his) is a classical guitarist and cultural musicologist from Venezuela. He regularly engages in community outreach performances and has performed at the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts and Dartmouth College. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed research journals and received a research grant from the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation.  

Christophe Jackson (he/him/his) is a research professor of music and neuroscience at the University of Tulsa, Lorton School of Music and Oxley College of Health Sciences. He is an accomplished classical and jazz pianist, having trained in jazz with Ellis Marsalis and Victor Atkins. He holds PhDs in piano performance, biology and mechanical engineering, and studies the effects of music on cognition, performance and stress.  

Luís Armando Rivera (he/him/his) is a music theory lecturer in the School of Music at the University of Washington, where he also studied. His research interests are in mathematical music theory, set theory and the music of Latin America. He is an active piano instructor and has contributed to after-school music programs in community centers. He holds degrees from Augusta University and Georgia State University.  

Emorja Roberson (he/him/his) is assistant professor of music and African American Studies at the Oxford College of Emory University. A conductor, vocalist and composer, he highlights the Black experience through jazz, hip-hop and gospel, and has created the talk show Black@ND, a forum for Black students, faculty and staff at the University of Notre Dame, where he earned degrees in vocal performance and choral conducting.   

Demetrius Robinson (he/him/his) is an award-winning conductor, educator, researcher and composer. He holds degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University. He is a current PhD candidate at The University of Memphis. A member of numerous professional organizations, his research interests include musical literacy, student leadership, equity in music studies and gospel music pedagogy.  

Alicia Romero-Sardiñas (she/her/hers) is a visiting professor of music education at Florida International University, where she holds multiple degrees. A longtime choral director in public high schools, she is a board member of the Florida Vocal Assocation and has presented at the Florida Music Education Association annual conference. Her research aspires to recognize standards of musical literacy among choral directors.  

Leaha Maria Villarreal (she/her/hers) is a composer whose work in dance, film, opera and concert music has been presented by Beth Morrison Projects, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Wende Museum, National Sawdust, Experiments in Opera and the Victory Players. Villareal is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, with an emphasis on American Studies, arts leadership and music teaching.