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Renowned music festival comes to Northwestern with Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad

Bienen School hosts Gateways Music Festival this spring
gateways chamber players
The Gateways Chamber Players, with Phylicia Rashad, will launch Chicago residency at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on April 15. Photo courtesy of Gateways Music Festival

For three decades, The Gateways Music Festival has entertained audiences around the country. For the first time, the festival, which connects and supports classical musicians of African descent, will launch a series of Chicago area performances at Northwestern.

The Bienen School of Music is partnering with the Gateways Music Festival to present two special concerts.  

Actress Phylicia Rashad and violinist Tai Murray join the Gateways Chamber Players on April 15 at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall for Igor Stravinsky’s “The Soldier’s Tale” Suite and Wynton Marsalis’s “A Fiddler’s Tale.” That program is followed by accomplished pianist and composer Stewart Goodyear for a recital on April 17.

“Gateways’ focus on classical musicians of African descent makes it a unique and important institution,” said Bienen School dean Jonathan Bailey Holland. “It is a special privilege for Northwestern and greater Chicago audiences to experience this ensemble in our own communities. I am very grateful to former Bienen School dean Toni-Marie Montgomery and former executive director of Gateways Lee Koonce for their foresight in the planning of these activities.” 

The two concerts at Northwestern are part of a 30th anniversary celebration for the Gateways Music Festival.

“This is an important year and we’re thrilled to bring Gateways Music Festival to Chicago and partner with Northwestern,” says Gateways Festival President and Artistic Director Alexander Laing.

Laing, a 1996 graduate of Bienen, said introducing the Gateways community to Northwestern has a personal and special resonance. “I thank Dean Holland for welcoming us to campus and I am grateful to Toni-Marie Montgomery and Lee Koonce for their vision.”

Additional concerts are planned during its Chicago residency, April 15 to 19, culminating with the Gateways Festival Orchestra’s Chicago debut at Symphony Center on April 19. Other residencies during the 2023-24 season include Rochester, New York City and Washington, D.C.

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