Vocal Fellows Program

The Thirteen
Washington, DC
Type of Position: 
Application Deadline: 
Friday, October 15, 2021


A Program for Increasing Diversity Among Professional Vocal Ensemble and Oratorio Singers


Open to early-career singers of vocal ensemble and oratorio music


The Thirteen offers these vocal fellowships to early career singers from diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, or other demographic groups that are significantly underrepresented among professional singers of vocal ensemble and oratorio music. With this program The Thirteen aims to play a role in diversifying our field by providing fellows with a high-level music making experience, mentorship, and connections within the field. This fellowship will be an inclusive, welcoming experience and is aimed at singers who are enrolled in or have recently completed their undergraduate or graduate education and aspire to be professional vocal ensemble and oratorio singers. The Thirteen has a history of addressing important social issues of the day through its programming, including climate change, migration, and systemic racism. We frequently work with diverse composers and performing musicians. Fellowship recipients will rehearse, perform, and tour (if applicable) with The Thirteen from February 6-13, 2022. They will be an integral part of this concert week, performing with the twelve singers of The Thirteen in concerts featuring works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Trevor Weston, Caroline Shaw, and Benjamin Britten. 




Hailed as “a tight-knit ensemble of accomplished soloists with a vocal signature of becoming tonal beauty,” (Choir & Organ) with “a sound that’s more colorful than the average early-music group,” (The Washington Post) the Washington, D.C.-based professional ensemble The Thirteen regularly explores the meaningful issues of our time through music. For example, The Thirteen’s staged performance of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion, titled Passion Transfigured, sought to explore the themes of systemic racism and shared complicity. It was acclaimed by The Washington Post as a production that “…transfigures the listener; a faithful and lively account, skillfully performed.” Other notable past concerts have included On the Migration of Soulsthat addressed migration, From Tree to Shining Tree that spoke to a concern for the natural world, and Absalom that explored the themes of violence and reconciliation. For more information visit www.TheThirteenChoir.org. 



Active as a conductor, soloist, and ensemble singer, Bass Steven Berlanga performs with the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, The Thirteen, Kinnara, Exigence, Chorosynthesis, Brevitas, and has sung with the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, and Border Crossing of Minneapolis. He has received a MM degree in choral conducting at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, and a BM degree in vocal performance from California State University – Long Beach. As a soloist in oratorio and opera he has performed with New Voices Opera, IU Opera, Cabrillo Stage, the Santa Cruz Symphony, Cabrillo College, Westfield State University, the Illuminati Vocal Ensemble, and the Raven Consort.  Among his roles on stage he has sung Caiaphas in Jesus Christ Superstar, Villains in Tales of Hoffmann, Dick Deadeye in H.M.S Pinafore, and Colline in La Boheme. In 2014 he performed the role of Boris in The King in Yellow with New Voices Opera, and he returned in 2016 to perform as Stranger in The Forest of Dreams. In 2011 Mr. Berlanga performed the baritone solos in Hindemith’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d with the Cabrillo Summer Chorus, and he returned in 2012 to perform the baritone solos in Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem with the Santa Cruz Symphony and Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus.



Hailed for his “incisive tempos and dramatic pacing,” (Washington Classical Review) Matthew Robertson is the driving force behind the all-star professional ensemble The Thirteen and is praised as a leader in the field. As Founder and Artistic Director of The Thirteen, he has conducted the ensemble in over 100 performances, recorded six CDs, and led numerous residencies at colleges and universities. Robertson’s productions with The Thirteen have been hailed using such words as “transfigure the listener,” “elegant,” “confident and responsive,” and more. 


Fellowship recipients are expected to arrive in Washington D.C. by 12:00 pm noon EST on Sunday, February 6, 2022, and to be available full-time for rehearsals, coaching, activities, and concerts through February 13, 2022. Fellowship recipients are expected to prepare the music to a high level of excellence in advance of the rehearsals.  More details will follow for recipients.   



This program is open to anyone currently preparing for or embarking upon a career as a professional singer of classical and oratorio music.  Applicants must be U.S. citizens or residents with rights to employment in the United States.  The Artistic Director of The Thirteen will select finalists based on the applications and accompanying materials and will invite each finalist to participate in a virtual interview and audition.


Artistic criteria are exceptional musicianship, an interest in the vocal ensemble field, strong sightreading skills, and an ability to work well with others. Diversity criteria are a background from racial, ethnic, cultural, or other demographic groups that are significantly underrepresented among professional singers of vocal ensemble and oratorio music.  



For more information or to apply, contact info@TheThirteenChoir.org.


Compensation and Benefits: 


  • A high-level music making experience preparing and performing a concert of music with The Thirteen.
  • Mentorship from The Thirteen’s Artistic Director and The Thirteen’s Fellow Mentor. 
  • Compensation of $1,000.00.
  • Travel stipend and per diem if located outside of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area


Application Procedure: 

APPLICATION PROCESS | Complete applications are due October 15, 2021


Applicants must provide the following:

  • A resume/curriculum vitae that describes the applicant’s experience singing in ensembles and training in music, including graduation or matriculation dates (if applicable).;
  • A letter of interest describing in specific terms (1) why the applicant is interested in the program, (2) why the applicant is a good fit for the program, (3) how the applicant is part of a significantly underrepresented demographic group in the field, and (4) the applicant’s interest in a career as a professional singer of classical and oratorio music.
  • At least one letter of recommendation from a professional conductor. The letter must include contact information for the conductor and be signed or electronically signed with the name of the applicant in the title of the file. The applicant waives any right to read this letter.
  • Contact information for a reference who is a private voice teacher and for a third professional reference.
  • Two solo oratorio, opera, or art song recordings, of which one must be a recording of a work from the Baroque. 
  • Proof of citizenship or right to work in the United States, e.g., photocopy of passport, birth certificate, permanent resident card, temporary work permit, etc.

All the materials above must be submitted electronically to info@TheThirteenChoir.org no later than 11:59 pm Eastern Time on October 15, 2021.  Please ensure that your name and “Vocal Fellow Application” is in the title of the file. 


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