Nashville Symphony welcomes new Accelerando class

Accelerando classes 1 through 3. (photo by Sally Bebawy/Nashville Symphony)

Seven local students have been selected for the third class of Accelerando, the Nashville Symphony’s groundbreaking music education initiative designed to facilitate the studies of gifted young musicians from diverse backgrounds and to prepare them for careers in music.

The seven students were introduced during an event at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on Thursday, August 2, that was attended by current Accelerando students and their families, as well as Nashville Symphony staff members, including President and CEO Alan D. Valentine and Director of Education and Community Engagement Walter Bitner. The addition of the seven students brings the total number of participants in the program to 16.

All from Middle Tennessee, the third class of Accelerando students are: Icsis Church, clarinet: Grade 8, Bellevue Middle School, MNPS; Treasure Eckles, viola: Grade 10, Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School, MNPS; Angel Elbano, flute: Grade 4, Una Elementary School, MNPS; Rose Majett, cello: Grade 8, home-schooled student; Xavion Patterson, bassoon: Grade 10, Stewarts Creek High School, Rutherford County Schools; Mario Shaw, percussion: Grade 11, Stewarts Creek High School, Rutherford County Schools; and Alexander Vinson, cornet: Grade 7, MLK Jr. Magnet Middle, MNPS.

Aalia Hanif, a member of Accelerando’s inaugural class, offered remarks during the event.

“As musicians from underrepresented cultures, it is both our duty and our community’s duty to expand the realm of classical music to meet people from all walks of life,” Hanif said. “Accelerando has become a main part of my life, and I am eternally grateful that I am a part of this wonderful program.”

Earlier this year, nearly three dozen students took part in auditions for Accelerando, which were adjudicated by Nashville Symphony musicians. The seven participants were chosen during the summer and will begin private lessons this September. As part of the program’s intensive curriculum, each of the students will also participate in their local youth orchestras, will have the opportunity to participate in master classes, and will be provided complimentary tickets to the Nashville Symphony’s Aegis Sciences Classical Series.

Launched in 2016, in partnership with Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Conexión Américas and Choral Arts Link, Accelerando engages individual students over a multi-year period with extensive instruction, performance and learning opportunities and also offers students assistance with applying for collegiate music programs. The program places the Nashville Symphony at the vanguard of a national movement to create opportunities for young musicians from ethnic communities currently underrepresented in American orchestras. All services are provided free of charge. More information on Accelerando can be found on the Nashville Symphony website.

The GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony has earned an international reputation for its innovative programming and its commitment to performing, recording and commissioning works by America’s leading composers. The Nashville Symphony has released 29 recordings on Naxos, which have received 24 GRAMMY® nominations and 13 GRAMMY® Awards, making it one of the most active recording orchestras in the country. The orchestra has also released recordings on Decca, Deutsche Grammophon and New West Records, among other labels. With more than 140 performances annually, the orchestra offers a broad range of classical, pops and jazz, and children’s concerts, while its extensive education and community engagement programs reach 60,000 children and adults each year.