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The Cleveland Institute of Music - Pursuing "The Cleveland Standard" and its Next 100 Years of Musical Education

Posted on 09/16/21 by Becky in Circle Institutions

When the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) opened its doors in 1920, its founders envisioned a place where talented students could pursue their passion for the musical arts. A century later, CIM counts composers, orchestra and symphony musicians; chamber musicians, voice and opera singers; conductors, and audio recording professionals among its distinguished alumni. These alumni work and perform with major orchestras and musical organizations across the country and around the world. Having achieved such remarkable success in its first 100 years, CIM is turning its attention to the future of the school and its students. What will the next 100 years look like?

CIM President and Chief Executive Officer, Paul W. Hogle, has a clear vision: “Being the future of classical music means being an artistic leader on stage, a servant leader in the community, and a thought leader in the world.”

CIM plans on achieving these admirable goals by investing in representative classical music, preparing its students for an ever-evolving professional landscape, and collaborating with peer University Circle institutions.

Representative Classical Music

Seeking to promote healthier racial diversity in classical music, CIM created the Musical Pathway Fellowships in 2017. The Musical Pathways Fellowship is CIM’s talent development program for Cleveland-area Black and Latinx students interested in pursuing a career in classical music. Students entering grades 5-10 are invited to audition for the program. If accepted, they are given full scholarships to pursue musical studies and attend classes at CIM. “The fellows’ motivation speaks for itself,” said Jerrod Price, Dean of Musician and Community Advancement. “All six of the inaugural program graduates were accepted into top music programs.”

CIM launched the Future of Music Faculty Fellowship in June 2021, bringing together a national cohort of 35 Black and Latinx music professionals who aspire to be academic leaders in the field. The virtual program, powered by the Sphinx Venture Fund, is offered at no cost and provides fellows with expert perspectives on topics such as navigating tenure and succeeding in highly competitive environments. Cohort members are also paired with a career mentor for deeper, one-on-one conversations. Price added about these programs, “From advancing outstanding young talent to mentoring future leaders in the higher education space, CIM is delivering tangible progress towards a classical music culture that champions diversity.”

The Cleveland Institute of Music - Pursuing
Musical Pathway Fellows (L to R): Damian Goggins, Jackson Marshall, Mariana Castenada, Hannah Rowland-Seymour, Travis Phillips, Jamiyah Dotson. Courtesy of the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Professional Preparedness

In the digital age, what skills position classical musicians for success? CIM tackles this question head-on with the Center for Innovative Musicianship (CIM²). CIM² supports lifelong learning by providing students and alumni with resources on monetizing their craft and becoming adept social entrepreneurs, all while serving their communities through the power of music. “My goal as an instructor is to develop informed, confident digital communicators,” said Ali King, Director and Faculty of Digital Media. “From optimizing at-home audio recording, to cultivating remote audiences, every CIM student should graduate feeling equipped to meet real-world demands, both in person and online. The Catalyst Quartet is a great example of a CIM-associated ensemble building its brand with savvy digital media use.”

In addition to the digital emphasis, CIM² dives deep into the business of being a musician. In CIM's Senior Seminar and Master’s Seminar, students explore contracts, finance and tax preparation for independent artists, grant writing, and copyright law and music licensing, all taught by preeminent experts. Students can also participate in ‘Pitch Night’ to receive support and resources for entrepreneurial ideas.

The Cleveland Institute of Music - Pursuing
Catalyst Quartet members (L to R) Abi Fayette, Paul Laraia, Karla Donehew Perez, Karlos Rodriguez. Perez is a CIM alumna and Rodriguez is Director of Artistic Affairs for the Sphinx Performance Academy at CIM. Courtesy of The Catalyst Quartet.

Local Collaboration is Key

Unique to a CIM education is its walking-distance proximity to dozens of other educational, arts, and cultural institutions in University Circle. Notable is its history with The Cleveland Orchestra, “A third of The Cleveland Orchestra are on faculty at CIM; this relationship is part of our DNA.”, said King. These partnerships and collaborations offer enriching experiences to both CIM students and the surrounding community.

CIM’s Joint Music Program with Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) allows each school’s respective students to attend specialized classes at both institutions. CIM also works with the Cleveland Museum of Art to offer free community concerts in the galleries on the first Wednesday of each month, which were temporarily paused due to the pandemic. Tom Welsh, Director of the museum’s performing arts, music, and film programs, shares, “Our partnership with CIM and the Joint Music Program with CWRU has been such a great marriage of music and art. These monthly concerts in the galleries are beloved by our many regular patrons and have been sorely missed this last year. I know I speak for the entire museum when I say how excited I am to bring back this ongoing series.”

The Cleveland Institute of Music - Pursuing
Music in the Galleries. Courtesy of Robert Muller

A Bright Future

It’s clear that CIM is poised for a second century every bit as successful as its first. The ultimate goal of equity-advancing programs, future-thinking classes, and continued local partnerships is to cement the organization as a beacon of excellence in classical music. In President Hogle’s words, “We invite students to achieve their most ambitious dreams in pursuit of the ‘Cleveland standard’ – we seek musicians who are adventurous, innovative, diverse, and sustainable global leaders in classical music.”

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