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October 21, 2021

CIM Unveils Pathway Designed to Launch Alumni into Professional Orchestral Performance Careers


Caleb Cox and Grace Roepke
Caleb Cox (L) and Grace Roepke (R), Robinson Orchestral Career Fellows

Notable Philanthropist Barbara Robinson Underwrites Inaugural Orchestral Career Fellows

Applications open for 2022-23 academic year

The Cleveland Institute of Music has unveiled a new pathway designed to launch recent CIM alumni into professional orchestral performance careers. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of noted Cleveland philanthropist Barbara Robinson, the inaugural Fellows – CIM alumni Caleb Cox, viola, and Grace Roepke, harp – are recipients of the Robinson Orchestral Career Fellowship.

The Robinson Orchestral Career Fellows are undertaking a rigorous course of study designed to enhance their musicianship with audition- and career-focused support that empowers them to win positions in major US or international orchestras.

Barbara Robinson
Barbara Robinson

Barbara Robinson has a long and storied history with CIM,” said CIM President & CEO Paul W. Hogle. “She has been a staunch advocate for ambitious, rigorous, sequential preparation for music students of all ages, and this new gift extends essential career training for alumni who are poised on the brink of their careers as orchestral musicians of the highest artistic standing. Barbara is a true CIM luminary, and her commitment to CIM’s vision has inspired countless numbers.”

“CIM’s talented students and alumni are serious about pursuing the performance careers of their dreams and we are especially proud to name Caleb Cox and Grace Roepke as the inaugural Robinson Orchestral Career Fellows to continue that commitment,” explained CIM Executive Vice President & Provost Scott Harrison. “The Orchestral Career Fellowship program was created to give CIM alumni the financial support, creative freedom and competitive edge to win and succeed at full-time professional positions in the world’s best orchestras. Through intensive audition preparation, coaching from top faculty and guests and their personal drive to succeed, Caleb and Grace have bright futures performing in major orchestras ahead of them.”

In this program that is exclusively available to CIM alumni (including current students who will earn degrees in 2022), up to five fellows receive full-scholarship awards for up to two years, free housing, travel grants and recording support, and benefit from an audition focused curriculum, including mock auditions, professional development, networking discussions with orchestral musicians, conductors and administrators from around the globe, and more. Fellows who complete this course of study in pursuit of their Artist Diplomas will be prepared for success in all aspects of an orchestral career.

Applications for the 2022-23 academic year are now open and available at cim.edu/orchestral-fellowships.

About the Robinson Orchestral Career Fellows

Violist Caleb Cox earned his master's degree in 2019 from CIM, studying with Robert Vernon and Mark Jackobs. He was awarded the 2019 Robert Vernon Prize in Viola, recognizing outstanding leadership and excellence in viola performance. Cox currently serves as principal viola of the Akron Symphony Orchestra and is a substitute musician with other area orchestras including the Canton Symphony, Erie Philharmonic and The Cleveland Orchestra. As an undergraduate at Bob Jones University, where he studied with Dianne Pinner and Kristin Figard Leonovich, he served as principal viola of both the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Fountain Inn Symphony Orchestra. During the summers, he has appeared as principal viola and soloist with the National Repertory Orchestra as well as a fellow of the Tanglewood Music Center. Cox is from Greenville, South Carolina.

Harpist Grace Roepke earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from CIM in 2021 and 2019, respectively, studying with Yolanda Kondonassis. An accomplished artist and popular collaborator, she received several prizes and awards during her tenure at CIM, including the 2021 Maurice & Judith Kaplow Prize for Uncommon Creativity. She has earned distinction as a successful solo performer and competitor with numerous honors, including the Grand and First Prize in the Friends of the Minnesota Orchestra Competition, the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition and Grand Finalist in the 2021 Dutch Harp Festival World Harp Competition. As an orchestral musician, Roepke has served as guest principal harp with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and spent summers as a fellowship recipient at the Texas Music Festival, Round Top Festival Institute, Eastern Music Festival and Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. She is a native of Chanhassen, Minnesota.

About Barbara Robinson

Long at the forefront of efforts to promote and support arts and culture in Northeast Ohio and nationally, Barbara Robinson has a lifelong connection to CIM. A pianist who once performed with the Boston Pops, Robinson studied in CIM’s Preparatory division as a child and was a teacher to young prep students in her early adult years. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the Harvard Radcliffe program in business administration. In 2006, Robinson was awarded CIM’s Honorary Doctor of Musical Arts degree, and in 2021, she received CIM’s inaugural Luminary Award. Serving a term as Board Chair and nearly five decades as a Trustee of CIM, she has worked tirelessly to ensure students have the resources they need to be the future of classical music. A current member of CIM’s Century Circle, her work and passion have created a lasting impact at CIM, including the Robinson Music Library and the recent establishment of the Robinson Family Presidential Scholarship.

Her work as an advocate for the arts has taken her from classrooms to the Ohio Statehouse to the hallowed halls of Congress in Washington, DC. For her dedication to the arts and civic life, she has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2019 Cleveland Heritage Medal. Robinson is an Honorary Life Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Musical Arts Association, the founding and governing body of The Cleveland Orchestra; an Honorary Trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Art; and a Life Member of the Board of Trustees of the University Hospital’s Case Medical Center. Robinson has served as a trustee for numerous other organizations, including Ohio Dance, Cleveland Children’s Museum, Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Center for Arts-Inspired Learning (formerly Young Audiences, Inc.) and Americans for the Arts. She served as chair of the Ohio Arts Council for 15 years, Arts Midwest and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

Photo credits: Caleb Cox by Hal Cook; Grace Roepke by Marianne Martinoli; Barbara Robinson by Tyler Scott.