Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra Receives Major Support From The Mellon Foundation

Jeri Lynne Johnson

 Press Release: 

Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra/The Mellon Foundation

Jeri Lynne Johnson
Founder and Artistic Director,
Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra

30 South 15th Street, 15th floor

Philadelphia, PA  19102

p  267.702.2809

Mellon Foundation makes $300,000 grant to Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra to support diversity and excellence in Classical music

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Philadelphia, PA – July 21, 2022. Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, the nation’s most diverse professional orchestra, was awarded a major grant from The Mellon Foundation. Founded in 2008, Black Pearl Chamber
Orchestra has spent the last ten years proving that a visible commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion can have a lasting and positive impact on communities AND the orchestra. With the purpose of supporting its
community-centered programming for the next three years, the $300,000 grant represents a significant recognition of the organization’s work and impact over the last 13 years. 

Based in Philadelphia, the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra was established as a model for the 21st-century American orchestra with a mission to take the audience beyond spectatorship to participation in the musical experience by combining artistic excellence with cultural diversity and innovative community engagement. In recognition of its world-class performance quality, Black Pearl has received numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. And Maestro Johnson’s innovative projects have made Black Pearl the only organization in the country to have been awarded three prestigious Knight Arts Challenge grants from the JohnS. and James L. Knight Foundation. But this grant from the Mellon Foundation is the largest investment in the organization’s mission to date.

As part of this grant, Black Pearl will undertake a new project, called the “Kaleidoscope Initiative” to support the next generation of rising young composers, especially composers of color. This project represents an
expansion of Black Pearl’s mandate to normalize diversity in classical music by focusing on creating access and opportunities in the creative process of music-making. Spread across its concert season, the works of three talented young composers will receive a premiere performance that will be recorded so the composers can promote their works through high quality live instrument versions of their works rather than digital MIDI realizations. Such recordings play an important role in building a creative career through competitions, prizes, fellowships, job positions, and promotion for performance with other orchestras.


Black Pearl’s Founder, Maestro Jeri Lynne Johnson, was delighted to receive the news that the important and impactful work of the organization would be supported for the next three years.


“Given the incredibly difficult circumstances ALL arts and culture organizations have had to weather during the COVID-19 pandemic, this grant from the Mellon Foundation will provide Black Pearl with the resources to continue to deliver concert and community programming to diverse communities across Philadelphia that enjoy our work. We are deeply grateful for this support and excited to begin this new
relationship with the Mellon Foundation to continue to create more inclusive, equitable Classical music experiences and to foster compositional talent that will continue to impact ll continue to impact the field far into the future.”


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