The funds will help support the organisation’s mission to support and connect classical musicians of African descent, including its debut as the first all-Black symphony orchestra to perform at Carnegie Hall next year


Gateways Music Festival Orchestra photo © Keith Bullis

An organisation whose mission is to support and connect classical musicians of African descent has been awarded a substantial grant of $800,000.

Gateways Music Festival has received the award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Announced in association with the Eastman School of Music, the news has been celebrated by soprano and the organisation’s board chair, Kearstin Piper Brown: ’This award is a powerful confirmation of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s belief in Gateways’ unique mission, and it acknowledges our importance in today’s classical music ecosystem.’

She continues, ’The lack of Black classical musicians on American concert stages is concerning for all of us, and Gateways is proud to provide a supportive and affirming artistic home for our musicians, enabling them to continue to thrive in their careers.’

As well as assisting Gateways’ ongoing growth and development, the grant will help support its historic Carnegie Hall debut on 24 April 2022, when the Gateways Orchestra will become the first all-Black classical symphony orchestra to be presented by Carnegie Hall in the venue’s 130-year history.

Susan Feder, programme officer for arts and culture with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, stated, ’We hope that this increased exposure will draw deserved attention to this remarkable organisation and its talented artists, as well as honouring the memory of Michael Morgan, whose unparalleled dedication to Gateways brought it to this transformational moment’. Morgan, a former Gateways music director and conductor who sought to diversify audiences and classical music programmes, died in August 2021 at the age of 63. The Gateways’ Carnegie Hall performance will be dedicated to him, commemorating his influence on the organisation.

Founded in 1993 by concert pianist and retired Eastman School of Music associate professor Armenta Hummings Dumisani, Gateways comprises 125 musicians who perform at concert halls and community venues to enlighten and inspire local communities.

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