May 8, 2019

CIM is Changing the Face of Classical Music: 235 percent increase in African American and Latinx students since Fall 2016

Orchestra photo

Following national College Signing Day on May 1, the Cleveland Institute of Music has seated 118 of the world’s most talented classical music students for fall 2019, with 13 percent of the entering students coming from historically underrepresented racial groups. The 15 incoming African American and Latinx students join their peers at CIM where the diversity of the student body has increased by a remarkable 235 percent to an historic high: 15 percent of the 375 students.

“CIM has never shied away from addressing the inequities in classical music and in the conservatories and schools of music who prepare the next generation of musicians,” said Paul W. Hogle, CIM’s president and CEO. “In the highly competitive world of America’s top classical music conservatories, students and their families put their trust in programs because of the faculty, the learning environment and the school’s collaborators. This is transformational work that will influence generations of students.”

This work includes:

  • Establishing CIM’s Musical Pathway Fellowship (MPF), which provides concentrated pre-college opportunities for aspiring young Cleveland-area African American and Latinx classical musicians.
  • A student-formed Black Student Union, whose purpose is to foster and encourage meaningful dialogue and fellowship among students, faculty and staff.
  • Partnering with the Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of young African American and Latinx classical musicians and leaders.
  • Working with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program (TDP) – whose generation-long commitment to training African American and Latinx classical music students for consistent acceptance in top music programs is recognized as a national model of excellence

“The way to change the face of classical music is to recruit, empower and engage a community of exceptionally well-prepared student musicians of color and immerse them in CIM’s high-quality training and the subsequent benefits that training provides,” Hogle said. “CIM has become a leading voice in the national conversation among conservatories and music schools, and takes accountability for increasing diversity in our student populations. We are the gatekeepers of the industry, and, if we are to help address the lack of diversity on our stages, it’s up to us to start with our classrooms and our practice rooms. Our aim is to change the face of conservatories, music schools and classical music so we look more like the communities we serve as we pursue the future of classical music.”

Jerrod Price, CIM’s associate dean of admissions and enrollment management and executive director of preparatory, enrollment and pathway programs, attributed the Institute’s enrollment success to CIM’s reputation for excellence, commitment to lowering the net cost of attendance and leadership in creating opportunities for exceptionally talented young musicians of color.

“Our overarching goal is to enable all of our students to pursue their dreams,” said Price. “Through a commitment to offering better access to a classical music education and making students even better, lifelong musicians, we are ensuring that CIM is a place where they can grow and succeed.”

Philip Williams, a CIM freshman trombonist from Atlanta and alumnus of TDP, says he chose to attend CIM because of the school’s inviting atmosphere. Williams, 19, is one of the founders of the new Black Student Union. He and three fellow students started the organization to get involved and help create more of the connections all students seek at college.

He emphasizes, however, that while the CIM Black Student Union is a place for the Institute’s African American students to gather and discuss important issues, any CIM student is invited to join.

“We have created a place on campus where students can convene in a safe space to talk about anything they want,” Williams said. “It’s important to keep in mind that all students are welcome. CIM has made great strides in the change it seeks. Once we get where we want to be, we should not let up.”

Hogle agrees. “CIM will continue to engage its students, faculty, staff and trustees in a lifestyle of diversity, equity and inclusion, and implement practices and programs to meet the CIM community’s diverse and ever-changing needs,” he said.

About the class

The incoming class of 2023 is one of exceptional artistic distinction, academic achievement and geographic reach. They are competition prizewinners, alumni of premier music festivals and some of the country’s finest youth orchestras, and several possess an entrepreneurial spirit as founders or co-founders of their own organizations and businesses. Musical accomplishments of the class include:

  • Prizewinners from such prestigious events as the Vendome Prize, American Protégé International Vocal Competition, Calgary Music Festival, Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Italian Scriabin International Piano Competition and the Hong Kong International Music Festival Competition.
  • Professional members of the New York String Orchestra, Erie Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Canton Symphony and Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, among others; and major youth orchestras in Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and St. Louis, as well as National Youth Orchestra 2.
  • Alumni of elite music festivals, including Aspen Music Festival and School, Heifetz International Music Institute, Sphinx Performance Academy, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, National Repertory Orchestra, Bowdoin International Music Festival and the Beijing International Music Festival and Academy.    

Other compelling statistics include:

  • International students from 13 different countries comprise 30 percent of the class; domestically, students hail from 27 states
  • 18 percent of the class are first-generation college students
  • Seven of the 63 undergraduates are from the Interlochen Arts Academy
  • Five students are enrolling in a dual degree program with Case Western Reserve University
  • 13 students from the incoming class are returning to CIM for additional study, two of whom are graduates of CIM’s Young Artist Program

“I am eager to welcome this impressive group to their new home in Cleveland, in the heart of University Circle,” Hogle said. “Seeing – and hearing – the ways in which they will enrich our lives is going to be a privilege and an honor. And I am delighted that they have accepted our invitation to fulfill their dreams and potential at CIM, and to become part of this very special place.”