July 27, 2021

Six New Fellows Join Musical Pathway Fellowship Program

3x2 grid of headshots
Top from left: Princess Abena Anno-Firempong, William Davidson and Dylan Eshbaugh | Bottom from left: Zamani Munashe, Laurien Palmer and Indya Reed

CLEVELAND, July 26, 2021 – Talented young music students around the world share the same dream as Cleveland Institute of Music 2021 Musical Pathway Fellowship (MPF) graduate Damian Goggans – to win acceptance to every music school and conservatory they audition for, and to secure multiple full scholarship offers. As Damian, who studied classical guitar with Erik Mann (MM ’96, Vieaux), explained, “Without MPF, this wouldn’t have been possible. But MPF helped me with everything I needed, and prepared me to make a choice.”

Six new fellows – violinist Princess Abena Anno-Firempong of Shaker Heights, trombonist William Davidson of Akron, clarinetist Dylan Eshbaugh of Strongsville, violinist Zamani Munashe of Cleveland, singer Laurien Palmer of Westlake and cellist Indya Reed of Bedford – will pursue that dream as part of CIM’s flagship talent development program for Black and Latinx pre-college students.  

“These students were chosen because of their talent, skill and incredible potential,” said CIM’s Dean of Musician and Community Advancement Jerrod Price, whose portfolio includes the Preparatory Division and its pre-college programs, “and we can’t wait to see how it develops. Our vision for the Musical Pathway Program is to identify talent at a young age and chart a path that nurtures hopes and dreams, guides and supports families on this journey, and fosters an environment of success that inspires students to build a strong musical foundation. We know that creating opportunities for talented young musicians of color to access high-quality training, without compromising the standard of excellence, is an important stepping stone towards a long term, sustainable career in music.”  

Through this program – and many other initiatives, including increasing the number of Black and Latinx conservatory students enrolled at CIM between 2016 and 2020, hosting the Sphinx Organization’s Sphinx Performance Academy and developing the Future of Music Faculty Fellowship – CIM prepares talented musicians who fully represent a spectrum of racial diversity that has long been absent from classical music. Additionally, MPF addresses a critical challenge impacting the field of classical music: the lack of musicians that fully represent the racial diversity of the communities that classical institutions serve.

MPF champions and provides guidance to Cleveland-area Black and Latinx students interested in pursuing a classical music career. Auditions are held annually in the spring for students entering grades 5-10. The six new students join five returning peers –  trumpeter Sam Clark, clarinetist Nicholas Garrett, violinist Jamiyah Dotson, double bassist Travis Phillips and cellist Hannah Rowland-Seymour. All fellows receive weekly private lessons with CIM faculty; study piano, music theory and eurhythmics; participate in ensembles, master classes and workshops; and meet regularly with conservatory student mentors and program staff to set goals and prepare for college applications and auditions.

Junior Hannah Rowland-Seymour, who joined the program in 2018, explains that her conservatory mentors – cellists Isabella Lorenzo-Giguere (Kraut) and Chad Polk (BM ’21, Robinson) – helped with her cello playing and music as a whole. She also said: “I’ve learned a lot more about the day-to-day life in conservatory. Bella and Chad have been transparent about their workloads, which has given me a better sense to prepare.”

The first students of the program, which launched in 2017 thanks to visionary seed funding from the Cleveland Foundation and The George Gund Foundation, graduated from high school in 2021. All six seniors were accepted to music schools or conservatories, and will pursue their dreams at Oberlin Conservatory, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Cleveland State University and Ithaca College School of Music.  

CIM’s Manager of Pre-College and Pathway Programs Johnnia Stigall added: “The Musical Pathway Fellowship is an unprecedented national model that integrates pre-college preparation with the conservatory. Our collegiate students provide valuable support and mentorship that helps fellows imagine themselves taking the next step in their own journeys, and being able to tap the deep musical and pedagogical experience of CIM’s faculty is an important asset.”

All Musical Pathway Fellows receive scholarships for full program tuition, thanks to sustaining grants from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation and KeyBank Foundation.

Princess Abena Anno-Firempong, violin
Princess Abena Anno-Firempong is a fifth grader at Campus International School. She previously studied violin at the Rainey Institute and in Tri-C’s orchestra program with Mollibeth Cox. In addition to violin, Princess sings in choir, enjoys gymnastics and Chinese dance, plays piano and recently started learning cello. She loves to perform in local festivals, nursing homes, universities and hospitals for international culture celebrations. Princess will study violin at CIM with Masha Andreini

William Davidson, trombone
William Davidson is a senior at Firestone CLC, Akron School for the Arts, where he has also served on the Music Association Leadership Council for three years. Currently a student of Thomas Pylinski (BM ’02, Witser), he performs with Akron Youth Symphony and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra. William is self-taught on keyboard and in music composition, and participated in CIM’s 2021 Young Composer Program led by head of composition Keith Fitch. William will study trombone at CIM with J.c. Sherman.

Dylan Eshbaugh, clarinet
Dylan V. Eshbaugh is a senior at Strongsville High School. He began playing clarinet at age 10 and has played in his school’s honors band and orchestra, as well as the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra. He has received excellence awards for leadership and musical activities and has received superior ratings at OMEA Solo & Ensemble contests every year since seventh grade. Dylan will study clarinet at CIM with alumnus Stanislav Golovin (BM ’09, MM ’11, Cohen).

Zamani Munashe, violin
Zamani Munashe is a senior attending the Cleveland School of Science & Medicine. Previously a student of Tanya Rogers and Ariel Clayton Karas (BM ’10, MM ’11, D. Cerone, L. Cerone, Rose), she started her musical studies at the age of 9 and has since attended summer programs at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and participated in summer and orchestra programs at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory. Zamani will study violin at CIM with Masha Andreini.

Laurien Palmer, voice
Laurien Palmer is a sophomore at Saint Joseph Academy and has studied voice since age 9. She previously studied voice with Madison Stratton and piano with Rosalima Pham (MM ’96, Hecht). In addition to her classical voice studies, Laurien has attended Broadway Artists Alliance intensives. She also participates in her high-school lacrosse team, a dance company at Baldwin Wallace Community Arts School, musical theater productions and numerous clubs. Laurien will study voice at CIM with alumnus Brian Skoog (MM ’13, PS ’15, Cole).

Indya Reed, cello
Indya Reed is a senior at Cleveland School for the Arts. She currently studies with alumna Martha Baldwin ((MM ’00, Geber) through The Cleveland Orchestra’s Musical Mentors program, and will continue to do so at CIM. Indya has also studied chamber music at CIM with coaches Jeanelle Brierley (BM ’16, Preucil) and Daniel Pereira. She has received numerous awards for her academic accomplishments, in addition to receiving a freshman orchestra recognition award and an OMEA certificate for achieving a top rating.