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Flutist professor diversifying the ranks, repertoire of chamber music

Michael R. Malone

Aug 25, 2022

Jennifer Grim, board president of Chamber Music America and Frost School of Music associate professor, aims to continue to diversify, innovate, and expand chamber music.

Jennifer Grim, an associate professor with the University of Miami Frost School of Music, fell in love with the sound of the flute when she was in third grade and listened to it at a school assembly. She practiced and played joyfully for years, but it wasn’t until she was midway through her pre-med degree studies at Stanford University that Grim pivoted—shifting her studies and committing to pursue a career as a professional classical musician.

That transformation was so long in coming in large part because Grim, today a renowned soloist and chamber performer, never saw other musicians that looked like her across the landscape of classical music. “I never really thought I could become a successful classical musician—it wasn’t something my parents advocated for or against,” she explained. “I identify as Black and biracial, and I just never saw anyone who looked like me play classical music.”

Grim began teaching at the University in 2019. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she also serves as artistic advisor and has been instrumental in developing the Frost School of Music’s involvement in Festival Napa Valley, a summer music academy for advanced collegiate musicians.

This past July 1, she was named the new president of the board of Chamber Music America (CMA) and became the first woman of color to head the organization in its 45-year history. Grim’s focus for the organization parallels that of her teaching and administrative responsibilities at the University: to encourage musicians of color to enter and sustain careers in the field of classical music and especially chamber music—her passion.“

There is an air of excitement in the classical music field, and part of it is coming out of the pandemic and being able to play again, yet also with the increased awareness of inclusivity,” Grim said. “It’s very encouraging seeing more organizations starting to hire people of color. The field is still very white, but we’re seeing progress and momentum, not only in who gets hired but also for the repertoire for these concerts.”

Grim, who earned a Master of Musical Arts and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Yale University, has performed both as a soloist and with renowned chamber ensembles around the world. She has given master classes at some of the most prestigious music schools in the country. She is the flutist of the award-winning Zephyros Winds and president of the National Flute Association in addition to her new leadership position with CMA.  


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