Walter Bitner

Home » Nashville Symphony Programs » Accelerando » Mellon Foundation Awards $959,000 to Accelerando

Mellon Foundation Awards $959,000 to Accelerando

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AccelerandoThe Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $959,000 grant to provide major funding for the Nashville Symphony’s Accelerando music education initiative over the next six years.

“This grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation represents a major investment in providing talented Middle Tennessee students of diverse backgrounds with access to high-quality arts education,” said Alan D. Valentine, Nashville Symphony president and CEO. “For our orchestra to remain relevant to our community, we must ensure that it reflects the community’s full richness and diversity. This is the guiding principle behind Accelerando, and funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will play a critical role in making this possible.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a private foundation headquartered in New York City.


Founded in 1969, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies by supporting exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work.

“We are deeply honored to be recognized by the Foundation, which has been instrumental in shaping cultural life in the United States over the past five decades,” Valentine said. “Today, arts organizations across the country are confronting the very same questions that we face in Nashville, and this grant affirms that the Accelerando program has the potential to make meaningful impact on our community and beyond.”

AccelerandoPhoto1Set to launch in September 2016, Accelerando will engage individual students from underrepresented communities over a multi-year period with extensive training, performance and learning opportunities, and will also offer guidance, counseling and assistance in applying for collegiate music programs. Participants will be selected through an audition process and will receive year-round instruction from a Nashville Symphony musician or highly qualified local instructor, along with summer workshops, camps, and classes.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.52.10 PMAccelerando was announced on September 28, 2015, and is being developed in partnership with Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, Music Makes Us (Metro Nashville Public Schools), Conexión Américas, and Choral Arts Link, with initial funding support in part from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra League.

The Nashville Symphony will host a series of open meetings at venues throughout Nashville in January and February 2016 to inform students and their families about Accelerando, and auditions will be held on March 12, 2016 at W.O. Smith Music School.  The complete schedule of information meetings as well as many links to articles about the launch of Accelerando from a variety of media sources may be viewed here.

Full details about Accelerando are available at including the timeline for the launch of the program, audition eligibility and guidelines, and the application to audition.

The same information may be found in Spanish at

Download the full-color bilingual Accelerando brochure here: Accelerando2015.

Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero works with a student during Side-by-Concert rehearsals, May 20, 2015

Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero works with a student during Side-by-Concert rehearsals, May 20, 2015

“America was founded on the idea that people of all backgrounds can achieve their dreams.” said Nashville Symphony Music Director Giancarlo Guerrero. “Accelerando will ensure that young musicians can pursue the dream of performing in a major American orchestra – and that our orchestras will one day soon reflect the diversity of our communities.

*       *       *

Needless to say, I am thrilled to be able to share this news with you: preparing to launch Accelerando has occupied Kelly, Kristen, and me for much of the last year. It has been a tremendous effort both by many here at the Nashville Symphony as well as by representatives from our community partners, and we are all very grateful and humbled by the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This award only strengthens our conviction of the importance of this program, its timeliness, and its potential for making a profound impact on the lives of young musicians as well as on the future of music not only here in Nashville, but across the country.

Music Teachers: please help us find the right children for this program by sharing about Accelerando with students who may be qualified to audition, and encourage them to attend one of our upcoming information sessions and apply to audition.

There will be much more to come…stay tuned to Off the Podium for updates as we prepare for our first auditions on March 12!

~ Walter


  1. Camilla Hester says:


  2. […] The Nashville Symphony was awarded a $959,000 grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which will provide 75% of the funding for Accelerando over the next six years. We are actively seeking other grants and donations to raise the additional $350,000 needed to operate the program at full capacity for 2018-2021. […]

  3. […] new Accelerando initiative really “took off” this year beginning in January, when we were awarded a $959,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to provide leadership funding for Accelerando over the next six […]

  4. […] Mellon Foundation Awards $959,000 to Accelerando […]

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