by DeeGee Lester – Photographs Courtesy of Nashville Symphony

Proud of Nashville’s growing reputation as a welcoming and diverse city, the Nashville Symphony is set to launch Accelerando in September 2016, expanding the popular moniker “Music City” to engage and inspire young musicians from underserved communities and to build a pipeline of orchestral talent for the future.

Together with community partners, including Vanderbilt Blair School of Music, Metro Nashville Public Schools (Music Makes Us), Conexión Américas, and Choral Arts Link, the symphony steps up to reflect inclusion and equity and to challenge the national reality that only 5 percent of orchestra musicians and directors represent diverse backgrounds.

A selected group of talented students in underserved communities, who combine a passion for classical music with discipline and motivation, will receive year-round instruction and mentoring from symphony professionals. “The mission,” points out Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero, “is the promotion of classical music skills and development of an orchestral repertoire.” The full resources of the symphony, ranging from guidance and counseling and financial and logistical assistance to performance opportunities, are harnessed to guide these students in preparing for a professional musical career.

“Through Accelerando, we are opening and expanding horizons, and we are excited to help identify, promote, and nurture students for opportunities and lives in classical music,” says Laurie Schell, Director of Music Makes Us.

Symphony president Alan D. Valentine emphasizes the qualitative rather than quantitative goals of the program. Embedded within current national discussions on the diversity of American orchestras is recognition of the need to reach a new generation of potential talent and to recognize the lack of access for children in underserved communities to instruments, lessons, and performance pathways that will allow them to achieve their dreams.

That qualitative aspect means that the initial group of program participants will be limited to four or five students, following a rigorous selection process including application, audition, and provisional trial lessons. The young musicians continue the program throughout high school. Each year, the process will add another small class of students.

Informational meetings for parents and students will begin in January, with auditions for students in grades 4–8 taking place in March and April. Provisional acceptances will be announced in May, with trial lessons for provisionally accepted students taking place throughout the summer of 2016. In September, the inaugural class begins.

“We want to be known as Music Education City,”

says Choral Arts Link founder Margaret Campbelle-Holman.
The dreams of many for Accelerando and for Música Ciudadana Educación match those of Conexión Américas co-founder Renata Soto. “My dream is that we have the next Giancarlo Guerrero.”
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