Gateways Music Festival, in association with Eastman School of Music, has received an $800,000 award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Gateways is a nearly three-decade-old organization that works to connect and support professional classical musicians of African descent.
“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,” said Gateways board Chairwoman Kearstin Piper Brown. “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.”
The grant will help support Gateways’ historic Carnegie Hall debut on April 24, 2022, when the orchestra will become the first all-Black classical symphony orchestra to be presented by Carnegie Hall in the venue’s 130-year history.
The debut will be dedicated to Gateways’ long-time music director and conductor Michael Morgan, who died in August this year.
“Michael Morgan’s influence on the Gateways organization and the musicians is profound,” said President and Artistic Director Lee Koonce. “We are a stronger and better organization because of his efforts and are committed to bringing our special brand of classical music-making to New York City just as he envisioned.”
In addition to its Carnegie Hall debut, Gateways will offer several additional concerts and events at Eastman School of Music next year, as well as in New York City.
“We are delighted not only to have renewed but also increased support to the Gateways Music Festival in order to help ensure the success of its April 2022 tour to New York City, where Gateways will perform at events across the city, culminating in its Carnegie Hall debut,” said Susan Feder, program officer for arts & culture with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “We hope that this increased exposure will draw deserved attention to this remarkable organization and its talented artists, as well as honoring the memory of Michael Morgan, whose unparalleled dedication to Gateways brought it to this transformational moment.”