About Us

2019 NIMAN Convening Participants. Photo by Mark Lyons


In the fall of 2018, Walter Bitner invited organizations and individuals interested in forming a network dedicated to the advancement of youth classical musicians of color to convene and discuss strategies for leveling the playing field in classical music. At the time, Mr. Bitner was the Director of Education for the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and was instrumental in launching the orchestra’s Accelerando program with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Building on Mr. Bitner’s idea of creating a network, Stanford Thompson proposed the establishment of a national association of organizations and individuals that would align resources and collaborate on strategies to empower musicians of color as they traverse the path from their formative musical years through advanced training and to a career in classical music.

The National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network (NIMAN) is the culmination of years of planning, meeting, and a multi-day convening to form the association that strengthens the trajectory of classical instrumentalists of color throughout the United States. It is our goal to achieve racial equity in the field of classical music.  


NIMAN’s founding is the outcome of tireless work and expertise invested by many leaders, educators, and musicians who generously volunteered their time for various working groups. NIMAN is especially grateful to the the following individuals:

Lucinda Ali-Landing, Hyde Park Suzuki Institute
Rebecca Bogers, New England Conservatory
Abra Bush, The Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University
Hilary Dow Ward, Sewanee Summer Music Festival
Carol Dunevant, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Angelica Durrell, INTEMPO
Quanice Floyd, Arts Education in Maryland Schools
Charles Grode, Merit School of Music
James Hall, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative
Andrew Lee, DC Strings Workshop
Garrett Lefkowitz, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Jonathan Martin, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Maria Mathieson, Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University
Ahmad Mayes, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Kimberly McLemore, Nashville Symphony, Accelerando
Jazmin Morales, Colburn School
Toni Paz, Independent Fundraising Professional
Jerrod Price, Cleveland Institute of Music
Richard Scerbo, National Orchestral Institute
Edgar Smith, World Pac Paper, LLC
Adrienne Thompson, Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative
Stanford Thompson, Play On Philly
Ciyadh Wells, Margins Guitar Collective

“For much of its long history, Peabody was part of an ecosystem that has been unwelcoming, exclusionary, and resistant to change. The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University stands in support of the work of the National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network as an extension of our commitment to change in the field.”


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