MMSF Instrumental Fellowships: String Fellowships

The Philharmonia Orchestra’s String Fellowship Programme is designed to support the development of talented orchestral string instrumentalists at the beginning of their career. The programme has been designed not only to support their musical development, but also to provide them with an awareness of how an orchestra runs and their role within it. 

Previous MMSF award winner Alina Ibragimova © Philharmonia Orchestra

One of 2016-18 Philharmonia MMSF String Fellows, double bassist Emre Ersahin


Applications for the Philharmonia MMSF String Fellowships Programme are now open. The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 7 February 2020. To apply, please complete our online application form here.

For more information please email

There are a maximum of five Fellowships available. The content of the two year Programme will be tailored to meet the individual needs and development rates of the artists, but will include:



Each recipient receives a grant towards their studies and in acknowledgement of any travel costs associated with participating in this programme. This is awarded annually.



In addition to the Philharmonia’s Director of Education, each recipient is paired with a Philharmonia player to offer them structured feedback, advice and guidance throughout their Fellowship, ensuring that they are welcomed to the Orchestra and receive a constructive and positive assessment of their performance and progress.



During the course of the two year programme, recipients have access to a range of masterclasses and seminars on relevant topics related to working in the orchestral sector, including:

  • Orchestral repertoire coaching and preparing extracts
  • Orchestral etiquette advice
  • Careers advice
  • Mock auditions and feedback afterwards
  • Coaching prior to auditions



Each recipient is offered a defined number of dates with the Orchestra for which they are paid at the tutti rate. This is for both rehearsals and concerts.



As part of their Fellowship, the recipients are offered paid project work with the Education department, providing them with invaluable training within learning and participation settings – an increasingly important skill for the 21st century orchestral musician.



During the course of their Fellowship, recipients are able to take advantage of performance opportunities. As well as appearances at Development and Philharmonia Friends events, there is an end of year Showcase Concert at the Royal Festival Hall. In addition, if Fellows wish they can apply for further recital performance platforms (solo or as small chamber groups) in pre- or post-concert slots at our major residencies, including De Montfort Hall in Leicester, Three Choirs Festival and the Bedford Corn Exchange, incorporating the experience of putting together a proposal and programming ideas, along with a marketing plan and social media approach.



Successful recipients are asked to contribute to and sign a bespoke two year learning agreement to outline their commitment to the String Fellowship Programme. This is reviewed after a year and any adjustments made will be mutually agreed. The musicians are expected to participate in an evaluation process, to include completion of a brief progress report form at 6 monthly intervals in order that the Philharmonia can ensure the Fellow is receiving the best experience possible. 

GUIDELINES | Philharmonia MMSF String Fellowships 

Philharmonia cellists © Benjamin Ealovega

We want to invest in talented instrumentalists who are pursuing an orchestral career. In order to be eligible for the Philharmonia MMSF String Fellowship Programme, you must be able to demonstrate in your application an interest in an orchestral career, and some experience of working in an orchestral setting.

We want to support artists who have the potential to build a sustainable professional career and you will be asked to describe how the Philharmonia MMSF String Fellowship Programme would make a significant difference to you at this particular point in your career. You should consider the impact the Fellowship would make to both your creative development and long term career aims.

The Philharmonia MMSF Fellowship Programme is a two year scheme which means that places are only awarded every other year. Each round is likely to be highly competitive. The panel will review all submitted information and will be asked to consider:

  • Your artistic achievements to date and the impact you are currently making in your studies and work
  • The impact a String Fellowship would have for you as a prospective orchestral musician



Applicants must be over the age of 18 and in full or part-time education, or no more than 18 months out of full or part-time education at the point of applying. You will need to be able to demonstrate this clearly on your application form.

As a guide, the programme has been developed with fourth year undergraduate and postgraduate students in mind. We will accept applications from young undergraduates but ALL applicants must be over 18 years old.



The Philharmonia MMSF String Fellowship Programme is open to applicants of all nationalities. However, if you are from overseas, you will need to demonstrate that you are still in education and will be for the duration of the Fellowship with a valid visa (if applicable).



Two references must be written specifically for this application, one of which should be from your current teacher. They should ideally contain the following information:

  • How the referee knows the applicant
  • In what context they have got to know them
  • Why the applicant will benefit from being given a place on the String Fellowship Programme
  • The applicant’s qualifications for the Programme
  • How the Programme will benefit the applicant’s future development

Two references must have been received by the deadline; otherwise the application will be rejected. The applicants are themselves responsible for ensuring that their application is complete. They should contact their referees in plenty of time to ensure that they are happy to provide a recommendation and are able to do so by the deadline.



Through this scheme we are unable to consider applications for:

  • Formal courses of study, training or research (including postgraduate degrees)
  • Lessons with your regular teacher
  • Costs associated with participating in competitions or showcases
  • One off performances, touring or recording costs
  • Instrument or equipment purchase
  • Any costs incurred prior to a grant being offered

How do I apply?

Applications for the Philharmonia MMSF String Fellowships Programme are now open. The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 7 February 2020. To apply, please complete our online application form here.

You must provide two references as part of your application, one of which should be from your current teacher or head of institution. These may uploaded directly to your application or can be sent directly to but must meet the same deadline as the application and be clearly identifiable as your references.

Please note, the Philharmonia will not accept any alternative applications such as CVs or recordings.

If you are selected for audition, you will be asked to pay a registration fee of £20.

The Philharmonia Orchestra is committed to equal opportunities and welcomes the positive impact that difference has in our organisation. We are working to achieve diversity and welcome applications from all sections of the community.


First round auditions will be screened.

If invited to audition, you will be sent all of the relevant information about what to prepare, including audition piece and orchestral excerpts. Candidates may be asked to do some sight reading.

An accompanist will be provided – please do not bring your own.

We are unable to provide feedback for unsuccessful candidates following the first round auditons.


If you are shortlisted after the screened first audition stage, each candidate will then be asked to trial with the Orchestra during the course of two Philharmonia rehearsals. During this process, the final decisions will be made as to whom to award the String Fellowship places.

The panel’s decision is final and the Philharmonia reserve the right to withdraw or reduce funding should your plans change after an award offer is made.