Gateways Music Festival Orchestra Makes History as First All-Black Orchestra to Feature at Carnegie Hall in Its 130-Year-History

Photo Courtesy of Eastman School of Music

It’s a historic moment for the classical symphony orchestra!

The Gateways Music Festival Orchestra makes history as the first all-Black orchestra to feature at Carnegie Hall in the venue’s 130-year-history, Harlem World Magazine reports.

Gateways is an all-Black classical symphony orchestra created in 1993 by concert pianist and educator Armenta Adams (Hummings) Dumisani. Originally the festival was based in North Carolina and began to bring professional classical musicians of African descent together as a sort of respite from their otherwise isolated careers. It was created as a haven and supportive network for the artists. The festival eventually moved to Rochester, New York, in 1995 when Dumisani became a faculty member of the Eastman School of Music.

Since then, the festival has grown immensely and continued its partnership with Eastman. The orchestra comprises 125 instrumentalists who are a part of several larger orchestras, including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the National, Boston, Houston, Phoenix, and Detroit symphonies. The six-day festival includes a full orchestral concert, multiple chamber recitals, open rehearsals, professional development, panels, lectures, and film screenings across 50 venues in Rochester. 

While Carnegie Hall has hosted several all-Black ensembles over the years, this is the first recorded feature performance from an all-Black classical symphony orchestra ever. Gateways historic featured debut will be led by Music Director Michael Morgan and highlight the world premiere of Oscar-winning artist Jon Batiste alongside Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Florence Price’s Third Symphony, and Sinfonia No.3 by George Walker, the first African-American laureate of the Pulitzer Prize for Music. The concert will also conclude with a signature piece, James V. Cockerham’s Fantasia on “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

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SOURCE: Because of Them We Can

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