Chamber Music America’s Ensemble Forward program is an initiative for emerging ensembles that perform Western European classical and contemporary chamber music and are based in the five boroughs of New York City. The goals of this program are to support ensembles at a crucial time in their career development and to help them navigate an increasingly demanding cultural landscape.

CMA will provide grant funds for ensembles to work with an established chamber music coach to help them develop their distinctive ensemble sound; make career information resources available; and create networking opportunities for ensemble musicians to meet each other, as well as composers and presenters, further enlarging their professional circles. The program includes career training and advancement through CMA’s Learning Residentials and financial support for making a demo recording.

The Board of Directors of Chamber Music America has made diversity, inclusion, and equity a primary focus of the organization’s work. CMA’s goal in this program is, through the panel review process, to arrive at a final slate of grantees that is representative of the field in terms of race and gender. Read CMA”s Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.


An ensemble is eligible if:

  • It consists of 2 -10 musicians;
  • It is based in one of the five boroughs of New York City;
  • A minimum of one member of the Ensemble is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
  • It performs Western European classical and/or contemporary music.

The ensemble:

  • Members may be recent conservatory, college, or community college graduates or have reached a high level of performance through other music instruction;
  • May include a member that is on track to graduate before December 2024, however, student ensembles are not eligible;
  • Must be no more than five years into its professional career;
  • If a prior Ensemble Forward grant recipient, the ensemble applicant must have finished its project and submitted a final report.
The Coach

Applicants to the program must apply with an ensemble coach, an experienced artist-educator from the classical and/or contemporary music field. Applicants may consult with CMA staff to help identify a coach for their ensemble or engage a coach of their choice. The coach must be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S


An Ensemble Forward grant is made up of the following components:

  1. Ensemble Coaching Sessions Payment
    A fee of $200 per ensemble musician for each of five sessions with the Coach. Sessions must be completed by December 31, 2024.
  2. Coach Payment
    A fee of $500 for the Coach for each of five sessions with the Ensemble. Sessions must be a minimum of 90 minutes.
  3. Demo Recording
    Support in the amount of $4,000 for making a demo recording.
  4. CMA National Conference
    Complimentary registration for the complete ensemble to attend the 2024 CMA National Conference, January 18–21, 2024, taking place in New York City.
  5. Learning Residentials
    Workshops for grantee ensembles, led by industry professionals, offering relevant career development expertise. This 6-month curriculum will commence during the 2024 CMA National Conference. Possible topics will include organizational management, budgeting, taxes, fundraising, marketing, copyright, etc.). The sessions will be held on the Hopin platform.In addition to the workshops, grantee ensembles will receive mentorship by Learning Residentials presenters who will help to create an action plan for implementation that can support each group.Each grantee ensemble will need to have ensemble representation present for all of the workshops offered.
  6. Consultations with CMA Staff
    Check-ins with CMA staff on the group’s progress throughout the grant cycle.
  7. CMA Membership
    Grantees receive a one-year complimentary CMA Ensemble-level membership

Ensemble Forward applications are reviewed by an independent panel of professional chamber musicians; CMA staff and board do not participate in the deliberations (Representative list of previous CMA panelists).

Written application

The panel will review:

  • why and how the coaching sessions will be beneficial to the ensemble’s artistic development<
  • the ensemble’s proposed repertoire for their coaching sessions and the reason(s) for the choice(s);
  • why they have chosen a particular coach and their plan for working with them;
  • how the Learning Residentials will be valuable for their career as a group.


Audio review:

  • potential for artistic growth based on the ensemble’s audio samples.

If awarded, one member of the ensemble must serve as the primary contact for the grant. They will be responsible for:

  • serving as the grant contact for CMA
  • providing government issued documentation as proof of their U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status
  • proof of their New York City domicile
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residence confirmation for their Coach
  • scheduling the coaching sessions
  • studio documentation for the demo recording
  • receiving and managing the grant funds
  • filing the final report


Grant funds will be disbursed as follows:

  • Majority of the award for the Ensemble Forward grant, including coachings and demo recording expense coverage, received after signing of CMA grant contract
  • Remaining $2,000 after receipt of all reports


Grant funds are taxable income; grantees must comply with all applicable city, state, and federal laws, ordinances, codes, and regulations regarding the reporting of grant funds.


CMA uses the online application platform Submittable. Go to to create a free Submittable account if you do not already have one.

  • Complete the online form directly or draft your responses in an offline document as backup, then copy/paste your information into the online application. CMA recommends that you save your draft in an offline document as backup.
  • To save the work you have done on your application, you must click SAVE DRAFT at the bottom of the form before exiting.
  • You can return to your saved application to continue working on it by following the log-in instructions.
  • The application will close promptly at 11:59 PM ET on Thursday, October 5, 2023. Late or incomplete submissions will not be accepted. Applicants are encouraged to submit their applications at least 24 hours in advance of the deadline to avoid any last-minute complications.



Audio Uploads 

  • Two ensemble audio samples are required and must be uploaded to the online application.
  • Samples should be up to 5 minutes each and feature works for small ensemble (2-10 musicians).
  • Samples should demonstrate the ensemble’s performance level and must feature either the full ensemble or at least 50% of its musicians.* Include contrasting works, if possible.
  • Soloistic works are not recommended.
  • *A duo must submit works with both partners.*
  • Only mp3 and/or m4a file types are accepted.
  • Samples do not need to be of studio quality but should be clear and representative of the ensemble’s performance within the last two years.


Memorandum of Understanding 

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ensemble and the proposed coach must be uploaded to the application.

A sample MOU can be downloaded here:

To submit an application

  • Go to and click on “Ensemble Forward.”
  • Complete all required fields, including text boxes, the Funding Request, and Audio Sample information.
  • Prepare your audio samples and MOU attachment.
  • Save audio files as: Ensemble Name-Audio 1 and Ensemble Name-Audio 2; acceptable file types: mp3, m4a.
  • Upload the audio files and MOU to the application.
  • When complete, sign and date your application.
  • Click “Submit” to send application to CMA; you will receive a confirmation email

Program Support: Susan Dadian, Associate Director of Grant Programs,

Technical Support: Submittable Help – For Submitters | Submittable

Application Deadline: Thursday, October 5, 2023, 11:59 PM ET

CHAMBER MUSIC AMERICA, the national network of ensemble music professionals, was founded in 1977 to develop, strengthen, and support the chamber music community. With a membership including musicians, ensembles, presenters, artists’ managers, educators, music businesses, and advocates of ensemble music, CMA welcomes members representing a wide range of musical styles and traditions. In addition to its funding programs, CMA provides its members with consulting services, access to instrument insurances, conferences, seminars, and publications including Chamber Music magazine and weekly e-newsletter, Accent.

THE NEW YORK COMMUNITY TRUST,  a public charity, The Trust is a grantmaking foundation dedicated to improving the lives of residents of New York City and its suburbs.