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Gateways Music Festival awarded $300,000 grant

The Gateways Music Festival in Rochester is getting a big boost in the effort to expand its offerings.

That festival, whose mission is to support professional classical musicians of African descent, has been awarded a $300,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The president and artistic director for the festival, Lee Koonce, says that grant will allow Gateways to eventually add two full-time staff positions.

“The festival has grown so much over the years, and especially the last five years that we really need some full time staff to accommodate the expanded programs, the increased number of musicians, the increased number of performances; so the festival is growing and this will really help us support that growth.”

Koonce says Gateways has been gaining national recognition.

“Last year we appeared on the cover of Symphony Magazine which was really big for us, it’s the industry kind of trade journal for American orchestras and Gateways was on the cover of that . So that was the beginning and I think this trend for national attention is continuing, which is terrific,” he told WXXI News.

Currently, the Gateways Music Festival is held every two years, but Koonce says the goal is to make it an annual event starting in 2019.

Even though there isn’t a festival scheduled for next year, he says there will be activities put on by Gateways in conjunction with their 25th anniversary.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.