About Gateways Music Festival
Gateways Music Festival was founded in 1993 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina by Armenta (Hummings) Dumisani, a Juilliard-trained pianist and retired associate professor at the Eastman School of Music, to provide a welcoming, nurturing and artistically invigorating home for classical musicians of African descent from the United States and around the world.
Its mission is to "connect and support professional classical musicians of African descent and inspire and enlighten communities through the power of performance." Held in North Carolina in 1993 and 1994, the Festival has been held biennially since 1995 in Rochester, New York.
In 2016, Gateways Music Festival and Eastman School of Music formalized their long-standing partnership and the Festival is now known as "Gateways Music Festival in association with Eastman School of Music." Gateways remains an independent 501(c)3 organization but now, in addition to rehearsal and office space, Eastman partially supports the salary of the President & Artistic Director, the Festival's first professional staff position.
During the Gateways Music Festival, 125 professional classical musicians of African descent come from across the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and South America to Rochester, NY to perform in more than 50 venues throughout the Rochester area including Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Hochstein School of Music & Dance, City Hall, Central Library, Corn Hill Landing, community centers, coffee shops and many private homes and houses of worship. Gateways' combined total live audience is approximately 7,500 and all events are free and open to the public.
Additionally, the musicians participate in educational symposia; professional development activities; rehearsals; chamber music performances in the community; one piano recital, two chamber music recitals; and one full orchestra concert. Other programmatic activities include educational symposia; community-building; film series; lectures; and panel discussions.
A Young Musicians Institute, started in 2017, provides an opportunity for Rochester area music students to interact and perform with Gateways' musicians.