Classical 91.5

Gateways Music Festival

A Gateways Music Festival Reflection with Jaman Dunn

Aug 20, 2019
Neal Ganguli

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jaman Dunn, the new Assistant Conductor, Community Engagement at the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Jaman was in Rochester to participate in the Gateways Music Festival as a guest conductor. Gateways aims to connect and support professional classical musicians of African descent, and enlightens and inspires communities through the power of performance.


The Gateways Music Festival is in Rochester this week, capped off by a concert Sunday in Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre.

The 125 musicians from all over the country rehearsed Friday morning, in advance of a preview concert held that afternoon, and among them was Amadi  Azikiwe, a violin and viola player based in New York City.

Garrett McQueen is a man of many talents: overnight host for Classical 24, creator and producer of the podcast Trilloquy, and bassoonist extraordinaire. He's in town to moderate the opening day panel discussion for the Gateways Music Festival, but found a moment or two to sit down and chat with Julia Figueras about his life path, and why Gateways is inspiring and important to him...and to us.

Backstage Pass is hitting the road again, and you can be there to see it! In celebration of the Gateways Music Festival, Julia Figueras again hosts Backstage Pass live from Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre with the GMF Orchestra, guest artists, and a live audience.

Very soon the Gateways Music Festival (August 6-11) in Association with the Eastman School of Music, will be returning to Rochester, for the largest festival in its history. 

The Gateways Music Festival is unique among music festivals, because it attracts and unites professional classical musicians of African descent, and provides them an opportunity to come together, to perform and inspire communities, through the excellence and power of classical music.  In the past 8 years, the festival has grown from a 3-day festival with approximately 50 musicians, to a 6-day festival including over 125 musicians and over 50 performances, along with a young musicians institute and a film-festival this year.

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The New York State Council on the Arts recently announced support for music festivals in upstate New York that are building communities, advancing revitalization and celebrating diverse voices.  Of particular note is the support for Rochester's Gateways Music Festival.

The Gateways Brass Collective, a newly formed quintet of participants in the Gateways Music Festival, was just in town for a Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. On Friday, February 15 at 1 PM, you will meet these extraordinary musicians of African descent and hear some snappy performances, too. The show encores on Sunday, February 17 at 1 pm.

Meet the players (l. to r.)

Amanda Collins, horn; Herb Smith, trumpet; Richard White, tuba; Isrea Butler, trombone; Courtney Jones, trumpet 

The Eastman School of Music has announced the hiring of Dr. Armand Hall, who will serve as Director of ROC Music, an innovative arts-outreach program that engages children and their families in the experience of making and appreciating classical music, and offers tuition-free classical music instruction and instrument lessons to students in grades 1-12 who reside in the city of Rochester, NY.

University of Rochester

In celebration of the life and work of Dr. Paul Burgett, Classical 91.5 aired the Backstage Pass that was broadcast live from the Gateways Music Festival in August 2017. Dr. Burgett was the Chairman of Gateways’ Board of Directors.

Julia Figueras was live at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre with the entire GMF orchestra, guest artists, and a live audience.  Music Director Michael Morgan, RPO trumpeter Herb Smith, pianist Stewart Goodyear, and violinist Amadi Azikiwe were among the guests who chatted with Julia, along with GMF Board President Paul Burgett and Artistic Director Lee Koonce and Eastman School of Music Dean Jamal Rossi.

Music on the program includes Adolphus Hailstork's An American Port of Call and the final movement of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto.


A well-known figure in the University of Rochester community  has died. Paul Burgett died Wednesday after a brief illness, he was 72. 


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