The Gateways Music Festival in association with Eastman School of Music announces its 2019 lineup and introduces two new events during its six-day run in Rochester, August 6 through 11.

New this year are a four-picture film series and an “after hours” session featuring popular and contemporary music.  Both additions expand the offerings of the 26-year old classical music celebration of professional musicians and composers of African descent.

Renowned mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves is the festival’s featured guest artist.  She will sing arias from the operas Carmen and Adriana Lecouvreur and African-American spirituals at the final concert of the festival with the Gateways Music Festival Orchestra at 4:00 p.m., Sunday, August 11 in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.

“Denyce is one of the world’s great singers, and her performance will be a powerful capstone to the 2019 Festival,” said Michael Morgan, conductor and festival music director.

Talking about what’s in store for Gateways’ audiences this year, Lee Koonce, Gateways president and artistic director, said, “Our goal for programming in 2019 has been to provide a wide variety of performances and events that take place throughout the afternoon and evening each day of the Festival. In 2019, there is something for everyone.”

Jamal Rossi, Joan and Martin Messinger Dean of the Eastman School of Music, spoke of Gateways and its relationship to the school. “Eastman is proud of the growth of the Gateways Music Festival and grateful for the partnership between our organizations,” he said. “Gateways is an important part of the Eastman family, and we are looking forward to this summer's Festival with much excitement.”

Two of the films in the series are:  Body and Soul, a 1920’s-era silent film by African-American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, starring renowned African-American singer and actor Paul Robeson and accompanied by a 16-piece chamber orchestra, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, August 9 in Kilbourn Hall; and Kinshasa Symphony - An Ode to Joy, a documentary about the everyday lives of members of the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, August 7 at The Little Theatre.

After Hours, a 10:00 p.m. program, Friday, August 9 at Anthology, will feature Gateways musicians performing non-classical music, including jazz, gospel, R&B and more.

The festival also will feature performances of solo, chamber, and orchestral works by composer Florence Beatrice Price (1887-1953).  In 1933, Price became the first African-American woman to have a work performed by a major symphony orchestra (the Chicago Symphony).  A documentary about her life is part of the festival film series.

Gateways’ growing concert and entertainment offerings are part of a broader plan.  “Gateways’ programming has expanded consistently over the past couple of years in response to feedback we gathered during our strategic planning process in 2016,” said James Norman, chairman of the Gateways board of directors. “These additional performances and events, which we hope will be appealing for our Rochester-based audience, are also necessary for Gateways to achieve the goal of becoming a festival that attracts visitors from around the country and beyond.”

Other festival highlights include:

  • A talk by Robert Watt, retired assistant principal French horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 37 years and author of The Black Horn, a book about his life and career, followed by a musicians’ panel discussion, 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, August 6 at Hatch Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music.

  • An organ recital by Nathaniel Gumbs, director of chapel music at Yale University, noon, Thursday, August 8 at Third Presbyterian Church.

  • A solo recital by pianist Stewart Goodyear, 8 p.m., Tuesday, August 6 at Hatch Recital Hall.

  • A solo recital by pianist Terrence Wilson, 3 p.m., Friday, August 9 at Hatch Recital Hall.

  • A performance of Florence Price’s Second Violin Concerto by Gateways’ concertmaster Kelly Hall-Tompkins, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, August 10 at Hochstein School of Music & Dance.

  • The return of the two-day Young Musicians Institute, begun in 2017, which provides opportunities for young Rochester-area music students to interact and perform with Gateways musicians.

Only four of the many events of this year’s festival will be ticketed:

  • The Kinshasa Symphony documentary, 6:30 p.m. at The Little Theatre on Wednesday, August 7, $5;

  • Gateways Brass Collective, 7:30 p.m., at Memorial Art Gallery on Friday, August 9, $5;

  • Gateways After Hours, 10:00 p.m. at Anthology on Friday, August 9, $10;

  • Gateways Orchestra concert, 4:00 p.m. at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre on Sunday, August 11, $15 for adults, $10 for students and senior citizens with ID, and free for youth under 18.

For a complete listing of Gateways events, repertoire and artists plus ticket purchase information, visit the Gateways web site at:

PHOTO CUTLINES:  Gateways Orchestra conductor Michael Morgan salutes pianist Stewart Goodyear after performance at 2017 Gateways Music Festival.  Goodyear will be a 2019 festival solo recital performer.


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. 

About the 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. The current dean is Jamal Rossi, appointed in 2014.

More than 900 students are enrolled in the Collegiate Division of the Eastman School of Music—about 500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. They come from almost every state, and approximately 23 percent are from other countries. They are taught by a faculty comprised of more than 130 highly regarded performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Guggenheim Fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, published authors, recording artists, and acclaimed musicians who have performed in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 900 concerts to the Rochester community.