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The students and families of Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI) are all keenly aware of the amazing work that CMPI does in the community. From their own first-hand experience, each fellow can speak of the support and guidance CMPI so excellently provides. Something that we may not know as much about are the partnerships that CMPI has with other organizations that allow their good work to have a greater impact. One such partnership is with the National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network (NIMAN).

“As a connector and facilitator for music organizations and musicians around the country, NIMAN works with organizations to collaborate on initiatives and experiences that are essential to musical growth,” Magee Capsouto, NIMAN General Manager, said of the organization’s focus in a recent interview. “We believe that there are five pivotal phases of musical development and that the institutions that serve young musicians at each of these stages must work together to make sure that musicians advance from one stage to the next successfully.”

The Festival Orchestra

The Festival Orchestra. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Working closely with NIMAN Board Chair Stanford Thompson, Capsouto helps to design and execute initiatives in collaboration with partners such as CMPI. One such initiative is the recently concluded Chicago Youth in Music Festival (CYMF). “CMPI is actually a Founding Member of NIMAN and we were thrilled that we could partner with them in one of our inaugural initiatives. Our partnership with CMPI allowed us to bring a Festival that has been local in the past to a national level – we were able to bring together students from 10 different cities for this incredible musical opportunity by leveraging our unique resources and networks. Partnerships like these help us to broaden the impact of individual programs as well,” said Capsouto, adding, “NIMAN doesn’t aim to duplicate existing initiatives and programs. Instead, we bring our members into a collaborative space where we can curate new opportunities together and expand existing ones.”

NIMAN RoundtableAs for NIMAN’s role at the Festival, Capsouto said, “One of NIMAN’s primary roles for the CYMF was in the facilitation of the Summit, which was designed to bring together pathways leaders from around the country to share their wealth of knowledge to ensure the thriving future of the pathways field. In addition to holding numerous planning meetings with our working groups, we also made sure that all of the elements were in place for the Festival and Summit to be successful.”

“NIMAN was also active in the Festival Orchestra side of things. James Hall, CMPI’s Director, Jonathan McCormick, Director of the Negaunee Music Institute, and I met frequently over the past few months to curate the best possible experience for the Festival Orchestra. We were able to bounce ideas off of each other for things like the student panel and cultural outing, as well as make sure that the musical experience was invaluable.”

“The CYMF and Summit beautifully encapsulates NIMAN’s mission to coalesce institutions, organizations, and individuals across the bridge of musical development to work together to build equity in the field. We were able to convene members who work at different stages of the musical journey, facilitating channels of communication to ensure continuing support of young musicians.”

Young, dedicated musicians such as the talented fellows of CMPI can look forward to participating in other NIMAN projects and initiatives in the future. Capsouto briefly discussed these initiatives.

“The Festival and Summit is a key initiative that we will produce annually in cities around the country! The Festival Orchestra will meet next year in Cincinnati and we look forward to announcing future cities as well. We also hope that young musicians will continue to use our Common Application for Summer Study, where they can apply to all of our partnering programs through one shared application and audition. Our partners also offer Fellowships to NIMAN musicians! We’ll soon be launching our mentoring program as well, which will pair young musicians with professional BIPOC musicians who can provide insight in terms of both musical growth and navigating the field itself.” Capsouto added, “We’re currently developing campus visit opportunities with our summer and collegiate partners, and have some additional programs we’ll be able to share more about soon!”

NIMAN Student PanelAs a lifelong musician herself, Capsouto recognizes how essential it is to support a young musician in order for them to thrive. “Music has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I studied violin at a community music school growing up, and while my parents aren’t musicians, their support and involvement were essential to my studies and growth as a musician and person.”

Perhaps in complementing the existing supports with partnerships such as those created by CMPI and NIMAN, more and more young musicians will not only be able to reach their goals, but themselves also become partners for good.

In summarizing their work, Capsouto said, “NIMAN’s ability to truly effect change is a result of our work with our members. There are deeply ingrained inequities in the classical field – to disrupt these systemic issues will take collective, collaborative action by partners across the country and across the spectrum of musical development. We are humbled and encouraged by the level of collaboration we’ve had with our members thus far and we look forward to continuing to spearhead initiatives and opportunities.”

“I’d also like to remind CMPI students and alums that we’d like to stay connected; we want to hear what you’re doing and what you’re experiencing as the next generation of the classical field!”

Learn more about the National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network at


The Festival Orchestra on stage at Symphony Center in an inspiring exploration of  Liszt’s Les preludes led by Maestro Riccardo Muti, photo credit Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Todd Rosenberg.

Roundtable 1: Institutional leaders from across the country joined us for the opening Roundtable of our first Annual Summit. Two intensive days of working group conversations laid the foundations for this culminating event.

Young Artist Panel: Fellows from seven participating pathways programs shared powerful insights about the pathways field.

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