Classical 91.5

Connections: The Gateways Music Festival and the importance of diversity in classical music

May 23, 2017
Originally published on May 23, 2017 3:09 pm


The New York Philharmonic is the nation’s oldest symphony orchestra, but it wasn’t until 2014 that it welcomed its first black principal player. While that fact may seem staggering, recent data paint a bleak picture of the state of diversity in classical music: only 4% of orchestra musicians are either African American or Latino.

Organizers of this summer's Gateways Music Festival are committed to improving that percentage. The festival features musicians of African descent and works by African-American composers. Our guests give us a preview of the festival and discuss how to make classical music more accessible to underserved communities. In studio:

  • Jamal Rossi, dean of the Eastman School of Music
  • Paul Burgett, chairman of the board of the Gateways Music Festival, and University of Rochester vice president and senior advisor to the president of the University of Rochester
  • Lee Koonce, president and artistic director of the Gateways Music Festival
  • Dalanie Harris, double bassist, and sophomore at the Eastman School of Music