All-Black Gateways Orchestra Makes Carnegie Debut With Jon Batiste World Premiere

April 20, 2022

This Sunday, April 24, 2022, Carnegie Hall presents the Gateways Music Festival Orchestra – comprised entirely of professional classical musicians of African descent – in its historic house debut.

Led by acclaimed Hollywood and orchestral conductor Anthony Parnther, the almost sold-out concert showcases the world premiere of I Can, a new Gateways commission from 2021-22 “Perspectives” artist Jon Batiste.

The Oscar- and five-time Grammy-winning composer, performing artist, bandleader and cultural ambassador who serves as music director of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Batiste joins the orchestra as piano soloist in his own new work.

Music lovers around the world can tune in to hear Gateways’s Carnegie debut when it airs live worldwide in the “Carnegie Hall Live” series at 3 pm ET this Sunday.

Streaming live on and as well as airing on both New York City’s WQXR 105.9 and Rochester NY’s WXXI, Gateways’s program combines Batiste’s new work with Brahms’s Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Florence Price’s Third Symphony and Sinfonia No. 3 by George Walker, the first African American laureate of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, whose centennial falls this year.

The concert concludes with James V. Cockerham’s Fantasia on Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a signature piece for the ensemble, whose distinguished members hail from the foremost orchestras and conservatory teaching faculties nationwide.

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 retired Eastman School of Music associate professor Armenta Hummings Dumisani, Gateways comprises 125 musicians – players in major symphony orchestras, faculty from renowned music schools and conservatories, and active freelancers – who perform at concert halls and community venues throughout their host city.

In May 2016, Gateways Music Festival formally affiliated with the Eastman School of Music, a festival partner since 1995, but remains an independent non-profit organization.

Click here to learn more about the 2022 Gateways Music Festival.

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