The Peabody Post

$3 Million Mellon Foundation Grant will Establish the Baltimore-Washington Musical Pathways Initiative

Peabody Institute, Kennedy Center/National Symphony Orchestra, DC Youth Orchestra Program, and Levine Music partner for new initiative. [Converted]January 23, 2020, Baltimore, MD, and Washington, DC: With an award of $3,000,000 in grant funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a new collaborative initiative in the Baltimore-Washington corridor will champion a collective approach to diversifying American classical music. The Baltimore-Washington Musical Pathways partners—the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO), the DC Youth Orchestra Program, and Levine Music—seek to transform the field of classical music through their sustained and combined efforts to support and serve young musicians from diverse backgrounds who aspire to careers in music.

The mission of the Baltimore-Washington Musical Pathways (BWMP) is to prepare and support student musicians in grades 8 through 12 from communities historically underrepresented in U.S. orchestras for study at music conservatories or as music majors at four-year colleges and universities, leading eventually to professional opportunities with the country’s leading ensembles.

“As arts leaders, we all know that developing the next generation of classical musicians is a complex road,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. “In order for the artists on our stages to reflect the diversity of the communities that support them, it is essential that arts organizations work together to identify the barriers and varied needs that music students are facing today, and strive to provide the programs and support that will help them succeed. I’m grateful to all of our partners who have agreed to unite for BWMP, and to the Mellon Foundation for providing the additional means for us to truly delve head-on into these challenges that we have been addressing as individual institutions. By bringing together these organizations that believe strongly in the belonging of Black and Latinx students in the classical music field, we can support the specific goals and aspirations of each of the students to pursue their steps towards a future in classical music.”

Through the BWMP, talented and highly-motivated students from the Baltimore and Washington, DC areas, will receive intensive, high-quality, individual instruction from the region’s leading instructors. Among the activities that students will also participate in are performing with regional youth orchestras, master classes with professional musicians from the NSO and Peabody Conservatory, side-by-sides and on-stage performing, and attending professional concerts. BWMP will offer experiential opportunities including regional convenings, summer learning and tours, coaching support, instrument support, and support for parents and families as students develop and deepen their musical learning. BWMP is excited to bring in other organizations whose missions align with the work of the collective to provide experiences and services outside of the cohort’s purview.

“This new initiative will help propel more students of color to pursue their dreams of becoming professional musicians,” said Elizabeth Schurgin, executive director of the DC Youth Orchestra Program and chair of the BWMP Steering Committee. Since 1960, the DC Youth Orchestra Program has served predominantly students of color and is widely recognized as a model for diversity in classical music education.

The 2016 landmark study by the League of American Orchestras on Racial/Ethnic and Gender Diversity in the American Orchestra Field made plain what audiences have observed of our nation’s professional orchestras: representation of Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx musicians is low.

Fred Bronstein, dean of the Peabody Institute, cited the need to increase diversity in America’s orchestras and across classical music as an existential imperative. “Everyone in classical music leadership must see diversity as more than the right thing to do,” he said. “Changing demographics and the need to attract more diverse audiences in the future make increased diversity on our stages as fundamental to classical music’s survival as the creation of new work. This partnership will allow us to build exponentially on our individual ongoing efforts by tackling this critical area as a group of institutions committed to this cause in two cities, Baltimore and Washington, both rich with diversity. We want to make real change where it’s most needed – providing access and opportunity to a pool of diverse young musicians early on.”

Currently, BWMP partners offer a variety of individual programs and resources aimed at increasing racial and socioeconomic diversity in classical music. These include the Peabody Preparatory’s Tuned-In program, which serves 80 students from Baltimore City and surrounding counties; the DC Youth Orchestra Program, which offers rigorous ensemble-based training to a diverse cohort of more than 600 students annually in schools and on Saturdays; Levine Music’s robust scholarship program, providing financial assistance to hundreds of students; and the NSO’s Summer Music Institute, Youth Fellowship Program, and Young Associates Program, which all operate as full scholarship programs. In providing individualized support to participants and bridging the gaps between these programs, the BWMP aims to maximize their collective impact.

“We are honored to be a part of the BWMP,” stated Levine Music CEO Peter Jablow. “Since our founding, Levine has been committed to excellence, accessibility, and providing students of all backgrounds the opportunity to study music. We look forward to supporting this transformative effort that will help shape and develop future classical musicians.”

Susan Feder, arts and cultural heritage program officer for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, added: “The Mellon Foundation is pleased to welcome BWMP into an exemplary group of collaborating arts training organizations in the urban centers of Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago. Each is committed to identifying and providing opportunities to highly talented young artists and their families in their respective communities who might otherwise not have access to intensive and individually focused training. BWMP’s offerings will help students navigate the opportunities and challenges relative to their own artistic development at critical junctures in their individual pathways to music study at institutions of higher education. As the first regional collaborative, BWMP will offer new perspectives and experiences to the other participating organizations. We welcome the opportunities for mutual learning on behalf of the young artists who will benefit directly from the Mellon Foundation’s support.”

Press Contacts Only:
Rachelle Roe, Kennedy Center, 202-416-8443,
Tiffany Lundquist, Peabody Institute, 667-208-6560,


About the DC Youth Orchestra Program
Founded in 1960, the DC Youth Orchestra Program is an integral part of the Washington, DC community, fostering the musical development of more than 60,000 youth. Guided by our mission “music for young people; achievement for life,” DCYOP offers group lessons and ensemble training for students ages 4½ to 18. DCYOP’s students tour internationally and work with acclaimed artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Gustavo Dudamel, and Gianandrea Noseda, and the organization has received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award and the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Arts Education. Most importantly, DCYOP distinguishes itself through its inclusivity: the program welcomes every student who wishes to participate, regardless of family circumstances or prior musical ability. Tuition is offered at a sliding scale which enables children from a wide range of backgrounds to experience the joy of learning and making music together. Over 60% of DCYOP’s students identify as students of color.

About The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, attracting millions of visitors each year to more than 2,000 performances, events, and exhibits. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, the nation’s busiest performing arts center is dedicated to providing world-class art, powerful education, and outstanding memorial experiences to the broadest possible constituency. Across all its offerings, the Kennedy Center is committed to increasing accessible, inclusive opportunities for all people to participate in, and learn through the arts, including more than 400 free performances each year and a variety of Specially Priced Ticket programs for students, seniors, persons with disabilities, and others. On September 7, 2019, the Kennedy Center inaugurated the REACH, its first-ever major expansion. Designed by Steven Holl Associates as a complement to the original, iconic Edward Durell Stone building, the REACH provides visitors with new opportunities to interact and engage with the Center as the nation’s premier nexus of arts, learning, and culture.

About Levine Music
Levine Music, the Washington DC region’s preeminent center for music education, is a welcoming community where children and adults find lifelong inspiration and joy through learning, performing, listening to, and participating with others in music. Levine’s foundational pillars are: Education, Performance and Community. Their distinguished faculty offers a broad and well-rounded curriculum that provides a strong musical foundation for students of different ages, abilities, and interests. Levine strives to make music education available to everyone. Hundreds of Levine students receive substantial scholarship assistance and many hundreds more receive free instruction through outreach programs.

About the National Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1931, the National Symphony Orchestra has always been committed to artistic excellence and music education. In 1986, the NSO became an artistic affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where it performs year-round. The NSO’s community engagement projects are nationally recognized, including NSO In Your Neighborhood, an annual week of approximately 50 performances in schools, churches, community centers, and other unexpected venues; Notes of Honor, which offers free performances for active, veteran, prior service, and retired members of the military and their families; and Sound Health, a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its affiliated organizations. Career development opportunities for young musicians include the NSO Youth Fellowship Program and its tuition-free Summer Music Institute. The 2019–2020 season marks the National Symphony Orchestra’s 89th, and Gianandrea Noseda’s third as its music director. The Italian conductor serves as the Orchestra’s seventh music director, joining the NSO’s legacy of distinguished leaders. Its artistic leadership also includes Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke and Artistic Advisor Ben Folds.

About the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University
The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University comprises both the degree-granting Peabody Conservatory and the community-facing Peabody Preparatory, empowering musicians and dancers from diverse backgrounds to create and perform at the highest level. Building on its rich history as America’s first conservatory, Peabody extends the power of the performing arts and robust artistic training throughout the greater Baltimore community and around the world, staging more than 1,000 concerts and events each year both on- and off-campus. Focused on the five pillars of excellence, interdisciplinary experiences, innovation, community connectivity, and diversity, Peabody has introduced the Breakthrough Curriculum into its rigorous core professional training to prepare flexible and innovative artists for 21st-century careers. As part of one of the world’s great research universities and medical institutions, Peabody is also taking a leading role in the field of performing arts medicine, advancing important initiatives in both arts-in-healthcare and clinical care for performing artists.

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