Inaugural National Pathways Festival + Annual Convening to be held March 18 & 19, 2023 in Cincinnati

Music Equity Convening Hosted in Partnership with the National Instrumentalist Mentoring & Advancement Network and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra 

Highlights to Include:
Keynote Addresses from Demarre McGill and Kevin John Edusei 
Side-by-Side Concert with National Pathways Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kevin John Edusei

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Cincinnati, OH (January 24, 2023)—The National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network (NIMAN) and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) have announced the Inaugural National Pathways Festival and Annual Convening will be held on March 18 & 19 at Cincinnati Music Hall.

Launched in January 2020, NIMAN is a national coalition that works to align, promote, and develop equitable opportunities for musicians of color. This year’s classical music equity event builds on last year’s Chicago Youth in Music Festival, presented by NIMAN in collaboration with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Merit School of Music, and Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative.

The festival and convening will offer unique opportunities for arts administrators, music educators, and professional musicians to directly engage in conversations on racial equity with each other and young musicians of color. With focuses on pre-college, collegiate, summer study, and pre-professional stages of musical development, attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of the action steps needed, with NIMAN’s continued guidance, to advance racial equity in their work.

"The orchestra industry has been going through an awakening regarding the lack of racial equity in the field and, in particular, the musician talent pipeline. Though there have been countless programs and initiatives developed over the years to individually address the issues facing young musicians of color, there has been no single resource to unify all of our efforts and streamline the long and complicated process for these young musicians at all stages of their pre-professional careers until NIMAN. The CSO is proud to be an early partner of NIMAN and host of this year’s festival and convening." —Jonathan Martin, CSO President & CEO

“We are grateful for CSO's support as we create a dialogue between young musicians of color and leaders in the classical music field. This convening provides a unique opportunity for those looking to put their voice into action to support, celebrate, and invest in the future of classical music” —Stanford Thompson, NIMAN Board Chair and Interim Managing Director

This year, the National Pathways Festival provides talented pre-college musicians in Pathways Programs across the country with a unique multi-day intensive musical experience, forming the National Pathways Festival Orchestra (NPFO) and working alongside musicians in the CSO.

The National Pathways Festival culminates in a side-by-side performance with the NPFO and CSO in a program that features Brian Raphael Nabors’ Pulse for Orchestra and Dvoƙák’s Symphony No. 9, led by Fort Worth Symphony Principal Guest Conductor Kevin John Edusei on March 19 at the Cincinnati Music Hall. Tickets for this program can be found at

“This experience was meaningful to me because it was the first time I played in an orchestra with so many people that looked like me and came from a similar background.” —Zachary Allen, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI) Fellow

The Annual Convening takes place concurrently with the Festival and engages NIMAN members, strategic partners, and industry professionals from all stages of musical development in conversations that promote progress toward NIMAN’s mission to create a level playing field in classical music.

“A great gathering of a wide and diverse cross-section of leaders from across various sectors of the music field. We rarely have convenings that touch so many facets of the pipeline, so it was great to gather in one place.” —Scott Harrison, Cleveland Institute of Music Executive Vice President and Provost

Convening Schedule Overview

The Convening will bring partners from across the country for strategic discussions and activities designed to strengthen the classical field and ensure a thriving, equitable future for young musicians of color. NIMAN’s convening is designed to spark collective action.

Convening highlights include an opening session luncheon with a keynote address from Seattle Symphony Principal Flute Demarre McGill, facilitated breakout sessions and panel discussions featuring students and leaders from all stages of musical development, and a closing keynote address from Maestro Kevin John Edusei followed by the CSO and NPFO side-by-side concert. Convening attendees are also invited to attend the March 18 Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concert led by Kevin John Edusei and featuring virtuosic violinist Simone Lamsma. Single tickets to both concerts can be purchased at

Interested attendees can register at and reserve a hotel room at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza for a reduced rate.

Media wishing access or interviews should contact Magee Capsouto, NIMAN General Manager at [email protected] or Felecia Tchen Kanney, CSO Vice President of Communications at [email protected].


About National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network

The National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network (NIMAN) is the result of years of planning—led by Stanford Thompson, Howard Herring, Walter Bitner—and culminating in a multi-day convening in the fall of 2019. The association, in partnership with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, officially launched in January 2020 and confirmed its inaugural Board of Directors later that spring.

By creating revolutionary programs that close equity gaps in the field, NIMAN strengthens the trajectory of classical instrumentalists of color throughout the United States. NIMAN’s goal is to achieve racial equity in the field of classical music by addressing challenges at every stage of the Bridge Matrix: Entry & Early Years, High School & Pre-College, College & Conservatory, Pre-Professional, and Young Professional.

In 2023, NIMAN developed the National Pathways Collective, an initiative that provides a nucleus for Pathways Programs across the United States. Pathways Programs offer free, intensive musical training and mentorship that prepares pre-college musicians of color to enter prestigious collegiate music institutions. The National Pathways Festival is an annual opportunity for select fellows in the National Pathways Collective to convene in a central location for a multi-day musical intensive, working alongside professional orchestral musicians and forming the National Pathways Festival Orchestra.

About Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

With a legacy dating back 128 years, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is considered one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles. Led by Louis Langrée since 2013, the CSO’s distinguished roster of past music directors includes Leopold Stokowski, Eugène Ysaÿe, Fritz Reiner, Max Rudolf, Jesús López Cobos and Paavo Järvi. Matthias Pintscher is the Orchestra’s Creative Partner, and previous artistic partners have included Lang Lang, Philip Glass, Branford Marsalis and Jennifer Higdon. The Orchestra also performs as the Cincinnati Pops, founded by Erich Kunzel in 1977 and currently led by John Morris Russell with Damon Gupton serving as Principal Guest Conductor. The CSO further elevates the city’s vibrant arts scene by serving as the official orchestra for the Cincinnati May Festival, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet.

Deeply committed to inclusion, relevance, and enhancing and expanding opportunities for the children of Greater Cincinnati, the Orchestra works to bring music education, in its many different forms, to as broad a public as possible. In 2020, the CSO was one of the first American orchestras to create a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer position to ensure the absorption of best DE&I practices into every facet of the organization. The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship, a nationally recognized program in partnership with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, provides a graduate degree-level education with performance and professional development opportunities for extraordinary young string players from populations historically underrepresented in American orchestras. The CSO is also an incubator for and partner to NIMAN, a consortium of American orchestras, professional musicians and educators established to address the lack of racial equity in the classical music field by aligning resources and collaborating to strengthen the trajectory of classical instrumentalists of color at all stages of their pre-careers.