October 26, 2018

More Information:
For Media Only: Jessica A. Kaufman (585-274-1057,

Lee Koonce,, 917-406-0046


Gateways Music Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary October 30 through November 4. The anniversary celebration will continue in August 2019 with the full Festival, featuring performances by professional classical musicians of African descent from throughout the United States.

An anniversary celebration highlight will be the five-day Community Residency Program, featuring a series of 20 chamber music performances by Gateways musicians in public schools, recreation centers, community music programs, libraries and other community venues throughout the Rochester area.

During the Community Residency Program, Gateways musicians will also reconnect with students from the Young Musicians Institute, which was inaugurated during the 2017 Gateways Music Festival. Forty-three students from the Rochester City School District performed with Gateways musicians during the 2017 Institute.

“A 25th anniversary is an occasion to celebrate for any organization,” said Lee Koonce, President & Artistic Director of Gateways Music Festival. “We’re celebrating great music, world-class musicians, and the extraordinary community support that has sustained Gateways over these past many years.  Having Gateways musicians connecting with our community through music seems an especially fitting way to celebrate.”

Jamal Rossi, Eastman School of Music Joan and Martin Messinger Dean states, “Gateways Music Festival is an extraordinary celebration. It is a celebration of the power of music to touch our souls and move our spirits, and of tremendously talented musicians of African descent coming together to make marvelous music.  Eastman is proud to be a partner with Gateways Music Festival in this wonderful endeavor.”

Concluding the six-day celebration will be a 25th Anniversary Gala Luncheon Celebration at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, November 4, on the stage of Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

Three special awards will be presented during the luncheon. The awards and their recipients are:

  • Rising Star Award: Violinist Caitlin Edwards, who participated in her first Gateways Music Festival in 2017, is a graduate student at DePaul University’s School of Music in Chicago, Illinois. Ms. Edwards was the unanimous choice of the members of the Gateways Artistic Programs Committee because of her superb musicianship and musicality.


  • Inspiration Award: Paul J. Burgett, an Eastman School of Music graduate and a member of the Gateways board of directors since 1995 and chairman from 2015 until his passing in August of this year, will posthumously receive the award for his indefatigable spirt and passion for the mission of Gateways.


  • Trail Blazer Award: Armenta Hummings Dumisani, who founded Gateways in 1993 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  A Juilliard-trained concert pianist, the now-retired Ms. Dumisani brought the festival to Rochester when she joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in 1994.

# # #

About Gateways Music Festival:

The mission of Gateways Music Festival is to connect and support professional classical musicians of African descent and enlighten and inspire communities through the power of performance. Founded in 1993 by concert pianist and now-retired Eastman School of Music associate professor Armenta Hummings Dumisani, Gateways attracts 125 musicians to Rochester, New York, from across the United States and abroad for more than 50 performances throughout the Rochester area.  In May 2016, Gateways Music Festival formally associated with the Eastman School of Music, a Festival partner since 1995.  The next Gateways Music Festival will be August 6 through 11, 2019.

About Eastman School of Music: 

The Eastman School of Music was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of Eastman Kodak Company. It was the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Mr. Eastman’s dream was that his school would provide a broad education in the liberal arts as well as superb musical training.

About 900 students are enrolled in Eastman’s Collegiate Division—about 550 undergraduate and 350 graduate students. Students come from almost every state, and approximately 25 percent are from other countries. They are guided by more than 95 full-time faculty members. Six alumni and three faculty members have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and numerous alumni and faculty have received Grammy Awards. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 800 concerts to the Rochester community.

Comments are closed.