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In early April, eight CMPI fellows traveled alongside CMPI staff and parent chaperones for the National Pathways Festival Orchestra and Summit, hosted by Equity Arc and the Nashville Symphony.

During the jam-packed weekend, the eight fellows rehearsed alongside young musicians from different pathways programs across the United States under the baton of Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero. The weekend culminated in a side-by-side performance by the pathways fellows and musicians of the Nashville Symphony. When the fellows weren’t participating in intensive rehearsals, they had the opportunity to explore downtown Nashville, visit the Vanderbilt University campus, participate in a college and summer music camp fair, hear the wisdom of keynote speaker Monica Ellis, tour the National Museum of African American Music, sample Nashville’s famous BBQ, and enjoy a rare solar eclipse!


What did our fellows say about the experience?

“Other than the museums and the Vanderbilt tour, I really enjoyed the time I had with my friends! Whether it was just hanging out at dinner or breaks or getting to go swim,” said CMPI violinist Paloma Chavira. “Everyone was very nice and welcoming and I had so much fun exploring Nashville.”

CMPI violinist Aki Santibanez agreed, saying “I really didn’t know what to expect however it was much more fun and exciting than I thought! I had such an amazing time playing, working with Maestro Guerrero, and hanging out with other musicians.”

CMPI violist Neena Agrawal said “It was way more fun than I expected and I learned a lot from talking to the professionals in my section about technique, set-up, and playing in an orchestra.”

CMPI trumpet fellow Natalia Noriega, having participated in the inaugural National Pathways Festival in 2021, reflected on the evolution of the festival over the years, “I had already attended NPFO when it took place in Chicago, and since it was its inaugural year, I remembered more tourist activities, and the grand finale being an open rehearsal. However, coming back two years later it was astonishing to see the expansion of the program in such a short amount of time. I was already content with the travel aspect, but the diverse panel conversations, inspiring keynote dinner, and even the graduation to an actual concert playing a full major symphony were all pleasant changes and it was heartening to see the work and love put into this program and how far it’s come.”

When asked about the lessons they’ll take away from the experience, there was a definite rhythmic theme among some fellows:

“Maestro kept saying ‘subdivide!’ over and over again. I will never forget to subdivide,” said one fellow, and another fellow concurred: “As maestro said, [it’s crucial to be able] to play a steady eighth note! I feel like my overall tempo and steadiness is something I overlook!”

While all this was happening, staff from the various pathways programs participated in workshops and planning conversations to discuss the future of the classical music education field, the unique needs of students from underrepresented backgrounds, and much more.

Thank you, Equity Arc and the Nashville Symphony, for an unforgettable experience!


Photos of National Pathways Festival Orchestra and CMPI Fellows

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