Founded in 1992, Astral Artists plays a vital role in the discovery and development of gifted classical musicians. Astral Artists selects these musicians from a nationwide pool of applicants at competitive annual auditions, who then are provided with invaluable career development guidance, numerous performance opportunities, and auditions with major presenters and conductors. In 2013 Astral Artists presented Inspired by the Spiritual with its resident artists in performance with mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson, the Richard Allen Singers, the Lloyd Mallory Singers, and the Clayton White Singers. They performed a concert of newly commissioned works by three noted African-American composers: Alvin Singleton, David Sanford, and Evelyn Simpson Curenton.
Astral Artists conducted a two-year residency with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis. Astral presented Philadelphia premieres of several of Kernis' works and the world premiere of a commissioned quartet for soprano, flute, viola, and harp. Kernis conducted coaching sessions and master classes, and participated in "Meet the Composer" discussions. Resident artists Michael Mizrahi and Di Wu (piano), cellist Susan Babini, soprano Disella Larusdottir, pianist Spencer Meyer, the Biava Quartet, harpist Bridget Kibbey, and flutist Jasmine Choi all performed Kernis' works. They were joined by guest clarinetist Igor Begelman, violist Teng Li, and Symphony in C, conducted by Rossen Milanov. Peter Dobrin and David Patrick Stearns moderated public discussions with Kernis.