I have always been a dreamer. But growing up in segregation, to have fulfilled my personal dreams and to have helped to found an entity that brings dreams to others, even I sometimes can’t believe what we’ve done. – Maestro Paul Freeman
To call a great conductor one’s uncle is an honor deeply regarded by Chicago Musical Pathways’ Student Navigator Emory Freeman. Having heard about CMPI through a friend, Emory learned that its group of partner-organizations includes the Chicago Sinfonietta, the orchestra founded by his great uncle, the late Maestro Paul Freeman. “As I became more aware of the type of work CMPI did, providing opportunities for people who are underrepresented, it was in line with what I experienced through seeing the work of my great uncle. It was in line with what I experienced through getting my own professional opportunities, and where I see myself moving forward in the artistic space,” Emory says, describing how his interest in the Student Navigator position at CMPI was first piqued.
In January, Emory joined CMPI in his new role, which he insightfully describes as, “being a part of something that offers so many resources to music students as it relates to getting really good at your instrument, how to prepare to get good at your instrument, what you can do after you become good at your instrument, and what you can keep doing to stay good at your instrument.” Looking back at his early years as a young musician, Emory realizes the great impact that CMPI’s comprehensive supports can make in the musical journey of each of its fellows. “When I was younger, there wasn’t a program that existed like this where I was from,” he recalls, “I personally struggled with things like paying for lessons and applying to summer music camps.”
Emory received his master’s degree in Clarinet Performance from the University of Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music (CCM) on full scholarship as a Yates Fellow. He previously graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelor of Music Degree. At VCU, Emory was nominated by faculty to receive the Outstanding Achievement in Performance Award, an award that is given to one graduating student annually. He has performed with professional ensembles throughout Richmond, Virginia, and has been a substitute musician for the Richmond Symphony and Virginia Symphony Orchestras. At Virginia Commonwealth University, Emory played with the VCU Symphony Orchestra and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble. At CCM, he has played with the Wind Symphony, Chamber Winds, and the CCM Philharmonia.
Like his great uncle, Maestro Freeman, Emory is an advocate for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the arts. Emory has served as the treasurer for the CCM Black Student Association and as an IDEA Committee member for the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. CMPI Director James Hall described Emory as someone who brings strong musical and administrative experience to CMPI, as well as a passion for creating equity in classical music.
When asked what he enjoys most about his work at CMPI, Emory highlights how special it is to him to personally meet the students he initially only met on paper. “It fills me with warmth to be able to interact personally with them because in 30 years these students will be the professionals in the industry. To be able to help them in the beginning of their journey is really special to me.”