ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Students at Rochester City Schools got a front-row seat to a unique performance by members of The Gateways Music Festival. Professional classical musicians from across the country are in Rochester this week for the annual event. It’s a partnership with the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music.

For 30 years musicians have been invited to entertain audiences here and in other cities. In addition to spreading joy, they say part of the objective is to expose audiences to an orchestra full of accomplished musicians who happen to be black. They’re also excited they say to participate in outreach events such as the performance at The School of The Arts Thursday morning. Artists like Prudence McDaniel a Cellist, say it allows them to encourage and affirm younger musicians.

“Really its about helping them find their voices and ways of communicating because music really does transcend language. It is another language” McDaniel explains.

Alexis Hatchet is a Senior at SOTA. She plays the cello also and says seeing four professional black classical musicians performing was inspirational.

“It also gave us a great opportunity to keep going on with our career as orchestra majors.” Hatchett adds, ” It actually inspired me to keep playing my instrument after I graduate.”

The full orchestra consists of over 100 artists. The Gateways Music Festival performances in Rochester continue through Friday. Then the festival moves on to New York City with a performance at Carnegie Hall. Click here for a complete schedule and ticket information.