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Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI)

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Made possible by a $3.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the mission of the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI) is to identify and develop gifted and motivated orchestral students from underrepresented backgrounds for acceptance into a top-tier conservatory, college, or university classical music programs in preparation for careers as professional musicians.


CMPI is focused on supporting students from ethnic backgrounds that are under-represented in the professional orchestra field, including African-American, Latinx, American Indian, Alaskan Native, and/or South Asian and Pacific Islander. Students who are not part of one of those ethnic groups may also qualify if their family is low-income or if the student will be the first in their family to attend college.

Students must play a standard orchestral instrument:

  • Violin, viola, cello, double bass
  • Flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon
  • Trumpet, horn, trombone, bass trombone, tuba
  • Percussion
  • Harp

Dedicated and Driven

CMPI is a highly selective and intensive musical training program. We treat all students in our program as though they plan to pursue music as their major in college. In 11th grade, CMPI fellows must commit to majoring in music to continue in the program. CMPI expects its students to practice a minimum of ten hours each week (unless otherwise determined by the student’s private teacher) on the music assigned by the student’s private teacher. This practice time is outside of ensemble rehearsals and lessons. CMPI students and their families will also be expected to regularly attend family meetings, concerts and workshops on a monthly basis.

Music Experience

Students of all levels are encouraged to apply for CMPI if they are passionate about their music and willing to work hard. Please carefully review the suggested repertoire below. Know that the pieces on this list are suggestions; applicants may audition with whichever music best represents their playing.


  • Your application must be submitted via Acceptd by Tuesday, February 1, 2022.
  • All applicants must attend a mandatory information session in order for their application to be considered:
    • Monday, February 7, 6:00-7:30pm
    • Friday, February 11, 6:00-7:30pm
    • Saturday, February 12, 10:00-11:30am
  • Your pre-screening video must be submitted via Acceptd by Friday, February 25, 2022.
  • All applicants selected as semi-finalists must participate in a home visit between March 1, 2022 and March 21, 2022.
  • Semi-finalists must submit a final audition video via Acceptd by Friday, March 25, 2022.


General information

  • You may use a smartphone, tablet, computer with a webcam, or any other device that can record both audio and video. 
  • Video length should not exceed 10 minutes. You do not have to perform complete works; we encourage you to work with your private teacher to identify excerpts from your repertoire. You are also welcome to reach out to CMPI staff at with specific questions.
  • Audition videos must be shot in one continuous take and include your scale, 2 contrasting solo pieces and orchestral excerpts (depending on your grade level).
  • Absolutely no editing or sound enhancements of any kind are permitted.
  • You will also need to submit scans or photographs of your sheet music for our judging panel. We recommend using an app such as Genius Scan to scan your music.

What should be on your recording

  • Announce your full name and current grade at the beginning of the video
  • Before playing each solo or excerpt, announce the title and composer.
    • Example: “This is Concertino Basso by Richard Lieb” or “These are excerpts from Wagner’s Die Meistersinger Overture”
  • Please play your audition requirements in the following order:
    • Scale (one scale of your choice)
    • Etude (grades 9-11)
    • 2 contrasting solo pieces
    • Orchestral excerpts, if applicable.
If you would like to apply for a Financial Fee Waiver, click HERE to learn about next steps. 

Organization contact information:

For technical questions please check out our Acceptd Applicant Support Help Desk for frequently asked questions.