Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive, The McKnight Foundation’s arts program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Support for individual working Minnesota artists has been a cornerstone of the program since it began in 1981. The McKnight Artist Fellowships Program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in 10 different creative disciplines. Program partner organizations administer the fellowships and structure them to respond to the unique challenges of different disciplines. Currently the foundation contributes about $1.7 million per year to its statewide fellowships. For more information, visit

The McKnight Fellowships for Musicians are intended to reward performing musicians with a distinctive musical voice who have had a significant performing career over a period of time and are at a career stage beyond emerging. The McKnight Musician Fellowships are committed to honoring the breadth of Minnesota Musicians of all genres; aesthetically, geographically, and culturally.

If you are a performing musician in any genre, MacPhail Center for Music invites you to apply for a McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians.

Before Applying

For full step-by-step details on the application process, please download the application guidelines in full. You will need to refer to these in order to complete your application successfully.

About the 2015/16 McKnight Musician Fellowships

With the generous support of the McKnight Foundation, MacPhail awards four $25,000 fellowships to outstanding and distinctive mid-career solo artists or small ensembles/bands. A McKnight Fellowship can help an artist set aside periods of time for study, reflection, experimentation, and exploration; take advantage of an opportunity; or work on a new project. Ensembles/bands that are recognized as finalists and/or fellowship recipients will split awards between members; individual ensemble/band members will not each receive the full award amount. Awards are subject to state and federal income tax guidelines.

Panel Members:
A four-member panel consisting of experienced and well-respected music professionals selects the McKnight Musician Fellows. The panel members are performing musicians, producers, composers, directors, and educators with an appreciation for and knowledge of a diverse range of musical styles and genres. All panelists are from outside the state of Minnesota. Panelists, insofar as possible, represent a diversity of age, ethnicity, gender and geography.

The McKnight Musician Fellowship panelists remain anonymous during the selection process.

Review Process:
Applicants are evaluated and selected based on the quality of their work as evidenced in submitted materials, most importantly work samples. Distinctive musical voice, exceptional artistic merit and the content of the artist statement will be considered during the selection process.

Consideration is given to accomplishments to date as well as promise for continued development and the impact the fellowship will have on the artist. The panel will also be asked to consider the breadth of artistic practices among Minnesota musicians, which include a wide range of styles and genres, which may be influenced by ethnicity, gender, and geography.

Solo artists and ensembles/bands in all styles compete together.

First Round Selection Process:
Panelists will review the tracks submitted as a part of Work Sample A. The panel will choose approximately one-third of the applications to advance to the second round. Panelists are not given the names of applicants in the first round. Applicants who do not advance to the second round are told by email.

Second Round Selection Process:
The panelists will review the tracks submitted as a part of Work Sample A & Work Sample B, résumés and artist statements. After making individual selections from the full list of second round applicants, panelist will meet via conference call to discuss the applicants who are of greatest interest to them. Nine solo artists/ensembles/bands will be selected to perform in the live auditions on Friday, May 1, 2015. Applicants will be notified about their application status by email one month prior to the live audition date.

Finalist Auditions:
Finalists are invited to perform for the panel at MacPhail Center for Music on Friday, May 1, 2015. All finalists must be present to be considered for a fellowship on May 1st – no exceptions. Finalists receive a $1,000 honorarium for their performance; for fellowship recipients, the honorarium is considered part of the $25,000 award. Finalists present a live performance of no longer than 20 minutes; panelists have up to an additional 15 minutes to ask questions of and talk with each artist/ensemble/band. Panelists consider the performance and conversation with finalists alongside previously submitted materials in selecting four solo artist/ensemble/band fellowship recipients. Finalists are not required to perform works from their online submissions at the final audition. Performance times are scheduled by lottery. Finalists are notified of the judges’ decision by phone no later than 9:30 p.m. on May 1st.


Please read carefully. Applicants who do not meet all of the following criteria and expectations will not be considered and should not apply.

You must (applies to all members of band/ensemble):

• Be 18 years of age or older and a resident of Minnesota, as determined by proof of residency including voting and/or payment of taxes in the state.
• Have been a legal and continuous resident of Minnesota for at least one year prior to the application deadline.
• If selected as a recipient, maintain residency in Minnesota during the fellowship year or forfeit your award moneys.
• Demonstrate a sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and excellence in your work.


• Have performed together for three or more years with the same members and name as stated on the application.
• Be made up of no more than five members.
• Be an active ensemble/band, having at least four significant performances in each of the last three years.

You may not (applies to all members of band/ensemble):

• Have received a McKnight Artist Fellowship in any discipline less than five years ago. Recipients of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2014 McKnight Fellowships in any discipline are not eligible.
• Be enrolled in a degree-granting program either part-time or full-time, at an institution of higher learning, all but dissertation included.
• Apply to more than one of the ten McKnight Artist Fellowships programs per year. Doing so will disqualify applicants from consideration in any program that fellowship year.
• Apply as both a solo artist and an ensemble/band member in the same year.
• Work as fellowship staff at any McKnight Artist Fellowship program.
• Work as fellowship staff or be an immediate family member of fellowship staff at MacPhail Center for Music.
• Work at or be a board member of The McKnight Foundation. In addition, you may not be an immediate family member of foundation arts program staff.

Application Requirements

Work Samples

You must provide live or studio recordings, totaling 24 minutes of material, made in the last three years. Recordings should represent your highest quality, best work. Solo artists must submit recordings of solo performances, and ensembles/bands must submit recordings that feature all ensemble/band members listed on the application. Recordings of solo artists and ensembles/bands can include accompaniment. However, the panelists should be able to easily identify and listen to the performance of the applicant. Panelists will have the knowledge of the instrument being performed. Do not include any introductory spoken commentary on your recordings.

Work Sample A
Time requirement: 4 minutes or less
Work Sample A should include one or more of the solo artists’ or ensembles’/bands’ works, which when added together, do not exceed a combined total of four minutes. Fading in or fading out a recording is acceptable to avoid exceeding the time allotted. Work Sample A is the only material reviewed by the panelists in the first round.

Work Sample B
Time requirement: 20 minutes or less
Work Sample B must contain two or more additional works, which when added together, do not exceed a combined total of 20 minutes in length. Fading in or fading out of a piece of music is acceptable to avoid exceeding time allotted. The panelists will listen to Work Sample A and Work Sample B of all applicants who advance to the second round.

Applicants will be disqualified from the competition if the total time of all works included in Work Sample A exceeds 4 minutes or in Work Sample B exceeds 20 minutes.

It is recommended that all works be uploaded as individual tracks so that panelists
may easily advance through the applicant’s recordings.

List of Works (optional):
Applicants may submit a supplementary page listing only the names of the works and composers submitted on Work Sample A & B to be submitted as a PDF.

Artist Statement
An artist statement no longer than 500 words.

Your artist statement might address the following:
• What is your background as a performing musician?
• How would you describe your distinctive musical voice?
• What do you see as the future of your art form and how does your work contribute to that?
• What are you doing as a performing musician that isn’t already being done?
• What is next for you as an artist?

If you are a previous McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians recipient please answer the following question:
• How has your work developed since your last award?

2-pages or less and be submitted as a PDF.

Submit a current résumé pertaining to the solo artist’s or ensemble’s/band’s music career that highlights your professional accomplishments and achievements including performances, recordings, awards and grants. Ensemble/band résumés must include at least 12 significant performances (4 per year) from the 3 years prior to the application deadline.

At the top of your résumé please include each applicants name (up to 5 for bands/ensembles), the solo artist’s/ensemble’s/band’s name, and corresponding instrument/s.

Résumés may not include: email addresses, web site addresses, quotes or reviews, pictures, photographs, cover letters or letters of recommendation.

Driver’s License:
Clearly legible copy of a driver’s license for each applicant or other proof of legal
Minnesota residency to be submitted as a PDF.


If you have questions please contact:

Regarding Eligibility and Guidelines:
Lindsay Lewis
Phone: 612-767-5586

McKnight Artist Fellow Logo

McKnight Musician Fellows should feel free to use these logos which have been designed for McKnight Artist Fellows.


Past Recipients of McKnight Fellowships for Musicians

Danami Maurice Champion, songwriter, musician; from St. Paul
Ignacio Nachito Herrera, pianist, arranger and musical director; from White Bear Lake
Siama Matuzungidi, guitar; from Minneapolis
Jacqueline Ultan, cellist, composer; from Minneapolis

Haley Bonar, voice, guitar, piano, keyboard, from St. Paul
Cléa Galhano, recorder, from St. Paul
Paul Metzger, banjo, from St. Paul
Maiya Papach, viola, from St. Paul

Christopher Atzinger, piano, from Dundas
Gao Hong, pipa, from Northfield
Laura MacKenzie, flutes/pipes/whistles/concertina/voice, from Northfield
Karen Mueller, autoharp, from Minneapolis

Orkestar Bez Ime, Colleen Bertsch, violin/vocals; Dee Langley, accordion/vocals; Katrina Mundinger, clarinet/percussion/vocals; Natalie Nowytski, vocals/percussion
The Roe Family Singers, Quillan and Kim Roe
John Snow, oboe
Noah Hoehn, harmonic/marimba/voice/percussion

Bryan Nichols, pianist
Nirmala Rajasekar, veena player
Parker Quartet, Daniel Chong, violin; Karen Kim, violin; Jessica Bodner, viola; Kee-Hyun Kim, cello
Carrie Henneman Shaw, voice

Asako Hirabayashi, harpsichord
Bernhard David Scully, horn
J. Christopher Marshall, bassoon
Fora Baltacigil, double bass

Linda Chatterton, flutist
Sarah Kwak, violinist
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player
Arek Tesarczyk, cellist

Noah Hoehn, harmonica player
David Karr, saxophone player
Charles Lazarus, trumpeter
Matthew Young, violist

Katja Linfield, cellist
Patrick Harison McPeck, accordionist
The Minneapolis Quartet, string quartet

Connie Evingson, vocalist
Amy and Sara Hamann, piano duo
Ross/Rapier Cello Duo
Voice Trek, vocal ensemble

Stephanie Arado, violinist
Artaria String Quartet
John Snow, oboist
Thomas Turner, violist

Steven Copes, violinist
Noah Hoehn, harmonica player
Dean Magraw, guitarist
Stephanie Wendt, pianist

Leibundguth-Witt Duo, flute & piano duo
Neal and Leandra, voice/guitar duo
Nina Tso-Ning Fan, violinist
Soyulla Duo, violin & cello duo

Dare to Breathe, vocal ensemble
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player
Prudence Johnson, vocalist
Anthony Ross, cellist

The Bakken Trio, piano trio
Rosalyra Quartet, string quartet
Timothy Paradise, clarinetist
Connie Evingson, vocalist

Duologue, flute & guitar duo
Jorja Fleezanis, violinist
Diane Jarvi, vocalist & instrumentalist
Peter Mayer, vocalist/guitarist

Linda Chatterton, flutist
Laura MacKenzie, Celtic multi-instrumentalist
Ruth MacKenzie, vocalist
Sunita Staneslaw, harpist

Ensemble Capriccio, string trio
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player
Shank-MacLaughlin Duo, violin & piano duo
Tadeusz Majewski, pianist