The Gateways Music Festival was founded in 1993 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina by pianist Armenta (Hummings) Dumisani. Its purpose is to celebrate the contributions and increase the visibility of classical instrumentalists of African descent. Participants in the Gateways Music Festival include young professional musicians from across the country, as well as established musicians from such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Phoenix Symphony and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Held in North Carolina in 1993 and 1994, the Festival has been held biennially since 1995 in Rochester in collaboration with the Eastman School of Music. The Festival includes a large number of community engagement concerts at houses of worship, schools, senior citizen homes, homeless shelters, as well as in renowned concert halls. All concerts are free and open to the public. The Festival performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio, and have been met with critical acclaim. Gateways Music Festival places a particularly strong emphasis on nurturing young talent, and through its youth workshops, youth concerts and master classes, seeks to reinforce in young musicians the desire to learn and achieve.