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Handel and Haydn selects inaugural Stone Fellows

Program seeks to foster emerging artists and promote equity in field of classical music

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Handel and Haydn selects inaugural Stone Fellows
Violinists Amelia Sie (left) and Carmen Lavada Johnson-Pajaro, Handel and Haydn Society inaugural Stone Fellows. PHOTO: COURTESY OF HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY

The Handel and Haydn Society has named violinist Carmen Lavada Johnson-Pájaro and violinist/violist Amelia Sie as its inaugural Stone Fellows. The Stone Fellowship is designed to provide opportunities in classical music for groups that have been historically marginalized in the field.

“It is an honor to be selected to be part of this historic organization through the Stone Fellowship,” says 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.”

Over the course of two years, Johnson-Pájaro and Sie will learn extensively through performances, mentorship and training with both H+H musicians and partners at the New England Conservatory (NEC). The Stone Fellowship is designed to not only recruit and train young musicians, but also ultimately incorporate them into the larger Handel and Haydn group.

“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,” says David Snead, the organization’s Philip and Marjorie Gerdine president and CEO. “We are confident that over the next two years, both musicians will become part of the fabric of the ensemble.”

Johnson-Pájaro is an Alabama native and community-based artist working in New York. She holds degrees from The Juilliard School, NEC and Eastman School of Music and channels her commitment to community engagement into extensive work with nonprofits, schools, hospitals, shelters and detention centers.

Also based in New York, Sie is an NEC alum with a master’s degree in historical performance from Juilliard. Italian virtuoso music from the 17th century is one of her specialties.

The search for Stone Fellows was national and competitive, and Johnson-Pájaro and Sie stood out among many other applicants as missing links within the H+H ensemble. The fellowship is funded by a $1 million gift from the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation and additional funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. The goal is to bring in new, diverse musicians every two years to continue growing H+H’s perspective and scope, while supporting young musicians.

“We are proud to support this groundbreaking project, which will increase access and provide opportunities for new musicians on the H+H stage,” said Jim and Cathy Stone in a statement. “With our gift, we encourage H+H’s efforts to be more inclusive and welcoming, through all its programs in and around Boston, for every generation.”