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2024 Yamaha "40 Under 40" educator Kimberly McLemore

Kimberly Kraft McLemore

Vice President of Education and Community Engagement
Nashville Symphony
Nashville, Tennessee

The Nashville Symphony’s education programming is designed to support the city’s students and educators and provide experiences that supplement and enhance the school curriculum. “We are always eager to collaborate and design new programming with our city to better serve the community,” says Kimberly Kraft McLemore, Vice President of Education and Community Engagement.

A popular program is Music In My Neighborhood, an annual week-long residency that is designed to bring the Nashville Symphony’s programming out of the concert hall and into a new neighborhood each year. Musicians, staff and board members visit local schools, community organizations and neighborhood associations to grow existing partnerships, build new relationships and spend time listening and learning from the community about how best to highlight the amazing work already happening in their neighborhood. “We then curate a week-long schedule of programming to showcase our partnerships in that neighborhood,” McLemore says. “We want to collaborate with the community to make music for the community. It is an amazing week full of partnership and music-making!”

Another program, Accelerando, which launched in 2015, is focused on diversifying classical music. Selected students receive full scholarship support to take weekly private lessons with Nashville Symphony musicians, participate in the youth orchestra, take music theory courses, access masterclasses and workshops led by world-renowned guest artists, and attend summer music festivals. “We also help students navigate the collegiate audition process in addition to covering visits and auditions at potential colleges or conservatories. All program activities and curriculum are designed to prepare students to study music in college and eventually go on to pursue a career in orchestral music,” McLemore says.

The first Accelerando had six students. Currently, annual enrollment stands at 24. The program is designed for students to remain in Accelerando for multiple years, with many participating from middle school through high school graduation. “I am so proud of our Accelerando alumni who have gone on to study music at schools like Eastman School of Music, New England Conservatory, Colburn Conservatory, Northwestern Bienen School of Music, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music, to name a few,” McLemore says.

In February 2024, Nashville Symphony will be partnering with Carnegie Hall to produce the Link Up program with 3,000 students, who will bring their recorders to the concert hall to play and sing with the Nashville Symphony during the performance. “This program is a true collaboration with Metro Nashville Public Schools that provided students with recorders and helped coordinate educator professional-development sessions,” McLemore says. “This program is an opportunity to do more than just expose young students to orchestral music. I hope this program will show them that our concert hall is a space for them to come and make music. That they belong here on our stage.”

Another partnership is with We Are Nashville, a student festival that prioritizes access to high-quality performance opportunities and learning experiences. The festival teaches 300 choir and orchestra students that they have a voice and deserve a space in our music ecosystem. “It was an easy decision to partner with the festival as their host organization. Our city’s students deserve to perform on the Schermerhorn stage, and I’m proud to provide space for them to share their voice,” McLemore says.