Eastman Community Engagement
When George Eastman purchased the property on Gibbs and Main Street to build a school of music and theatre, one of his primary goals was to provide the citizens of Rochester with a place to study, make, and enjoy music. Etched on the façade of the famed Eastman Theatre is the phrase, “for the enrichment of community life.”
For 100 years, the Eastman School of Music and Eastman Community Music School have been engaged in enriching the lives of Rochesterians by all that occurs within our facilities, and by the many programs that occur throughout the greater-Rochester community. The members of the Eastman community have a long legacy of forging partnerships with public and private schools, of creating off-campus concert series, and of volunteering with countless local organizations. The Eastman School of Music is proud to be in the city of Rochester, and we look forward to our continued, and growing, engagement in enriching the life of our community.
Jamal J. Rossi
Joan and Martin Messinger Dean
The Eastman School of Music’s Programs that Benefit our Community
Eastman Community Music School offers music lessons, ensembles, classes, and workshops to community members of all ages and backgrounds. From pre-school and early childhood programs to college prep and diploma programs to adult ensembles and classes, ECMS nurtures and inspires music students at all levels.150 teachers serve approximately 1,500 community members during the school year and hundreds more each summer.
Eastman Pathways provides scholarships for dedicated and talented Rochester City School District students to pursue music at the Eastman Community Music School.
Since the program’s inception in 1997, its student population has reflected Rochester’s rich cultural diversity: students from underrepresented communities account for over half of the graduating classes.
93% of Pathways graduates have gone on to attend college, including Eastman, University of Rochester, Harvard, MIT, Columbia, the University of Miami, SUNY Fredonia, the Manhattan School of Music, and Juilliard.
ROCmusic is a partnership of the Hochstein School of Music and Dance, the Eastman School of Music and Community Music School, the City of Rochester, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gateways Music Festival, and the Rochester City School District. It provides exceptional music education and performance experiences for youth living in the City of Rochester in their own neighborhoods. No previous musical experience or training is required and there is no charge for instruments, participation, or instruction. Each student in the program receives full scholarships for instruction, all necessary books and materials, music classes, ensemble rehearsals, and concert participation, and activities.
Of the many programs offered through ROCmusic, Herb’s City Trumpets (Herb Smith of the RPO), provides a mentorship program for young black men, 12 to 18 years old, through the expression of music.
Urban Strings is a partnership between the Eastman School of Music and the Rochester City School District providing private or small group lessons to string students in grades three through seven at Enrico Fermi School No. 17.
New Horizons provides entry points to music making for adults, especially seniors. Inclusive for all, including those with no musical experience at all, experienced musicians, and those who have been inactive for years. The program has 12 ensembles reaching 600 adults.
Festivals and Arts Leadership
Gateways Music Festival, in association with the Eastman School of Music, connects and supports professional classical musicians of African descent and enlightens and inspires communities through the power of performance.
The Orchestra of 125 players from major symphony orchestras, faculty from pre-eminent music schools and conservatories and freelance artists participate in six days of performances and events including chamber music recitals, a full orchestral concert, a film series, professional development activities, open rehearsals, lectures, and panels. Events take place at 50 venues in and around Rochester in concert halls, community and recreational centers, libraries, galleries, houses of worship, senior residences, homeless shelters, and private homes.
Rochester Fringe Festival is a 10- day performing arts festival events, featuring international, national, and local artists including faculty and students. Eastman’s performing venues host many of its events.
CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival is a popular nine-day event that features 1,750 artists from all over the world and attracts hundreds of thousands of people to downtown Rochester. Eastman faculty and staff routinely perform in this event. Eastman also serves as one of the festival’s many venues.
Arts In the Loop is an initiative organized by Eastman School of Music’s Institute for Music Leadership and community leaders, passionate about Rochester, to make Main Street a vibrant connector between the exceptional arts, civic, business, entertainment, and technology resources in downtown. Its vision includes vibrant and walkable street-level performances, utilizing green spaces, restaurants, clubs, stages, community spaces, galleries, street corners, and businesses.
Representation Matters introduces middle and high school students to classical music, specifically the music created by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), that are often overlooked in classical music. Students take part in a multi-session learning experiences, including listening to performances by Eastman students, and discussing the pieces.
Representation Matters was launched as a crowdfunding project by Travon Walker ’21E, a recent Eastman graduate in vocal performance and arts leadership and aspiring opera singer. Walker and 20 Eastman students brought the program to the Irondequoit, Penfield, and Webster school districts in 2021 and are now expanding to include the Rochester City School District.
Eastman Performing Arts Medicine (EPAM) delivers the performing arts and medicine to the health care environment working within the following four pillars:
- Heal: Specialized health care and wellness education of performing artists,
- Care: Music Therapy in clinical patient care,
- Learn: Research to explore and develop the potential of the arts in therapy, rehabilitation, and human performance,
- Inspire: Meaningful integration of the performing arts into the hospital environment.
Other community engagement events throughout the year include:
Eastman at Strong – twice a semester, Eastman School of Music students present an outreach presentation and concert to visitors at the Strong National Museum of Play.
George Eastman Day of Service – a half-day of community service sponsored by the Office of Student Life, during new student orientation, for all incoming Eastman undergraduates.
If Music Be the Food – Eastman faculty members and students join special guests for chamber music concerts at area churches to benefit Foodlink.
Jazz for Justice – a fundraiser sponsored by the Monroe County Bar association to support programs in Rochester and Monroe County such as the DEAFund, Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program, Rochester Teen Court, CASA, Empire Justice Center, The Legal Aid Society of Rochester and many more.
UR in Tune – Eastman Faculty bring their scholarship and artistry to the Highlands at Pittsford senior living community.
Eastman School of Music faculty and students perform hundreds of concerts – free and open to the public – at community venues throughout the year, with special commitment to the City of Rochester. Examples include:
- Weekly events: lunchtime concerts at Eastman at Washington Square; evening concerts at Grove Place Jazz Project at Downstairs Cabaret Theatre; organ concerts at the MAG; and lunchtime concerts at Christ Church.
- Monthly recitals: at St. Michael’s Church, the George Eastman Museum, and at other local churches through the “Community Organ Concert Series.”
- Additional, regularly scheduled events: “Piano Series” at the Summit featuring Eastman piano majors in solo recital; “Rochester Celebrity Organ Recital Series” featuring world-famous concert organists for recitals several times each year; “Valley Manor @ the Pops: Eastman on East,” four concerts per semester for residents; and “Eastman to Go” at which more than 40 Eastman student chamber music groups perform for community audiences throughout the year.
Eastman Opens the Doors is a four-day Centennial Event (March 3-6, 2022), in which Eastman students will fan out throughout Rochester offering music in a variety of settings ranging from public schools, libraries, shopping malls, food kitchens, and many other venues. Additionally, Eastman will host an open house for the community, with music performances and activities occurring in every performance hall, classroom, and available space—completely free and open to the public all day long to welcome residents, especially city residents, to experience Eastman.