Alumni Enterprise Awards

Revolutionary. Daring. Inspiring.

About the Alumni Enterprise Awards: 2021 Winners Announced

This award funds innovative ideas in areas including artistic expression, audience development, education, community engagement, social justice, and technology.

This award opportunity is available to all Music Academy alumni. Proposals must align with or challenge the Academy’s mission to further classical music education while cultivating discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences. Awards granted for alumni projects range from $2,500 to $20,000 based on scope and scale.

27 alumni have received Alumni Enterprise Awards over the past four years, for a total of $305,000 to support their proposed programs. Please learn more about each winner and proposed project below.

The winners will be mentored individually on their projects by a selected leader in their industry in addition to receiving coaching sessions on their business plans. This includes coaching from Music Academy Chief Advancement Officer Jonathan Bishop on raising funds and cultivating investors.

During the Summer School and Festival fellows have the opportunity to develop and pitch innovative ideas through the Fast Pitch Awards competition.

The Alumni Enterprise Awards are generously supported by the Ladera Foundation.

2021 Alumni Enterprise Award Winners

About the 2021 Winning Projects

BIPOC Voices: The Library of Music for Voice and Orchestra by BIPOC Composers: Rich Coburn

BIPOC Voices: The Library of Music for Voice and Orchestra by BIPOC Composers: Rich Coburn

Award: $15,000

In 2021, Rich will create a prototype of an online library with orchestrated vocal works by Black, Indigenous, and other Composers of Color, featuring samples of many previously un-recorded works, with the goal to develop the library into a permanent resource for educational and artistic institutions. This project is in partnership with Amplified Opera, Black Opera Productions, the Association for Opera in Canada (formerly, and the Canadian Music Centre in British Columbia.

The Resilience Project: Cristina Cutts Dougherty

The Resilience Project: Cristina Cutts Dougherty

Award: $10,000

The Resilience Project will add to the educational narrative the voices of heroes in our musical history, highlighting fourteen trailblazing women in brass. Active between the 1940’s and today, these orchestral brass players are uniquely relevant to today’s aspiring musician – these are artists who have succeeded against all odds. During 2021, The Resilience Project will manifest as a book of biographies, pedagogies, and testimonies with supplemental online resources for education and development.

How to Apply

Application & Selection Timeline

The 2021 Application process was open from August 10, 2020 until October 30, 2020.

Updates were recently shared with all applicants and can easily be viewed in the APPLICATION PORTAL


  • Support innovation in areas including but not limited to artistic expression, audience development, education, community engagement, and technology.
  • Advance social entrepreneurial endeavors/projects in classical music – bold and diverse initiatives developed and implemented by Music Academy alumni.
  • Provide funding and mentorship that generates positive learning outcomes for Music Academy alumni.


  1. Open to all alumni of the Music Academy of the West. Applications submitted on behalf of multiple individuals or ensembles must have at least one Academy alumni in a leadership role.
  2. Supportable activity includes proposals that align with or challenge the Academy’s vision to make a unique and enduring contribution to the world of music by advancing the development of the next generation of great classically trained musicians and cultivating discerning, appreciative, and adventurous audiences.
  3. Non-supportable activity includes proposals that request funding for private instruction, audition expenses, or tuition costs that are solely related to advancing the musical skills of the applicant. Any charges related to purchasing equipment or instruments must significantly impact more than just the alumni’s career.
  4. Completed applications must include a formal project title and general categorization, a project narrative, a timeline for implementation, a proposed budget, value and impact metrics, and any other details to describe the vision and breadth of the initiative.
  5. 2021 winning projects are required to be completed within the 2021 calendar year.

Receive Award Updates

Send us your up-to-date contact information to receive 2022 award application details as they are announced.


About the 2020 Winning Projects

About the 2019 Winning Projects

2018 Enterprise Award Winners


Ben Bliss ('12): MESS Core Ensemble

Ben Bliss ('12): MESS Core Ensemble

Under the leadership of stage director Paul Curran, the group spent five days preparing operatic scenes for a Manhattan performance on the final day of their Initial Ensemble Session, geared toward a millennial demographic.


Evan Shinners ('09): The Bach Store

Evan Shinners ('09): The Bach Store

A pop-up storefront in NYC where those walking by can see and hear musicians play Bach every day, for five hours a day, over 30 days. Learn more in the New York Times feature article by Michael Cooper: A Pop-Up Shop That Offers Bach Preludes, Fugues and Condoms


Brenda Patterson ('00): The Forgotten

Brenda Patterson ('00): The Forgotten

A Halloween double-bill that interweaves Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel with Menotti’s The Medium, The Forgotten explores American poverty, economic anxiety, and teenage gender identity.


Molly Carr ('07) & Anna Petrova ('17): Novel Voices

Molly Carr ('07) & Anna Petrova ('17): Novel Voices

This debut album for the Carr-Petrova Duo premiered this fall as part of their “Refugee Awareness” concert in Carnegie Hall, mounted to raise awareness about the lives and struggles of refugees across the globe.


Theresa Kim ('06): International Music Sessions

Theresa Kim ('06): International Music Sessions

The founding director of International Music Sessions launches Social Integration Workshops, offering 5-weekend musical workshops to young people from diverse communities.