Dr. James Gandre, an educator and musician with a deep commitment to students and the development of American conservatory learning, returned to Manhattan School of Music to assume the presidency in May 2013. He had served the School for fifteen years (1985–2000), most recently as Dean of Enrollment and Alumni. In 2000, Dr. Gandre became Dean of Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where he went on to serve concurrently as the Interim Dean of the College of Education, and ultimately as the University’s Provost and Executive Vice President.
President Gandre has broad knowledge of the history and discourse of the American conservatory, the subject of his doctoral dissertation, And Then There Were Seven: An Historical Case Study of the Seven Independent Conservatories of Music that Survived the 20th Century. He has also written about conservatories and music schools in Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories that Shaped Our Culture (ABC-CLIO, 2013). He presented his views of conservatory education and its impact on cultural life in America in the 2014 Musical America Directory.
As a performer, James Gandre has appeared as a tenor soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, London Classical Players, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and members of the San Francisco Symphony. His professional choral engagements include more than 175 performances with the New York Philharmonic, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (The Netherlands), Israel Philharmonic, Warsaw Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, American Symphony, Opera Orchestra of New York, and Voices of Ascension, and more than 20 commercial recordings and television appearances on EMI/Angel, EMI/Capital, Teldec, Delos, MusicMaster, Warner Records, and on NBC’s The Today Show, PBS’s Live from Lincoln Center, ABC, and CBS. In these performances, he has worked under such conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Sir Colin Davis, James Levine, Mstislav Rostropovich, Riccardo Chailly, Robert Shaw, Edo de Waart, Christopher Hogwood, Roger Norrington, John Nelson, Carlos Kalmar, Giuseppe Patane, Dennis Russell Davies, and Eduardo Mata.
Gandre is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (GRAMMYS) and a member of the Recommendation Board of the Avery Fisher Artist Program. He has been a judge for the Region Finals of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He was a panelist for the William Randolph Hearst Foundation/New World Symphony’s symposium on future multicultural recruitment for the orchestra and for the joint Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Aspen Music Festival panel about bridging the worlds of musical training and future music performance. He led the effort to create the National Performing and Visual Arts College Fairs presented by the National Association for College Admission Counseling and served as the first and third Chairperson of the Advisory Committee. Dr. Gandre also has presented numerous panels on issues affecting LGBT youth and college/high school professionals at educational conferences.
President Gandre has lectured at higher education institutions throughout the country, including the Curtis Institute of Music, New England Conservatory, Oberlin College, University of Michigan, Peabody Institute, Mannes College of Music, Stanford University, University of Michigan, the National Orchestral Institute at the University of Maryland, the University of the Arts, University of New Mexico, and Interlochen Arts Academy. For four years he served as the external adjudicator for graduation performance examinations at Australia’s University of Melbourne School of Music and he has been a regional selector for the Alberto Vilar Global Fellowship in the Performing Arts at NYU. He is the coauthor of a chapter in The New First Among Equals: The Role of the Chief Academic Officer (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) on the role of the provost and of the chief financial officer.
He has served on the Board of Directors of Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago High School for the Arts, and the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. He has also served on the Board of Visitors of the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, the Board of Advisors for Music in the Loft, and on the Diversity Working Group sponsored by the Elizabeth Morse and Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trusts.
Dr. Gandre has been a consultant to institutions as diverse as Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music, Chicago’s Institute for Clinical Social Work, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and has served as a site team member for the American Bar Association’s accreditation division at City University of New York, University of Pittsburgh, University of North Dakota, and Indiana University–Purdue University.
A Wisconsin native, President Gandre earned his Bachelor of Music degree with honors from Lawrence University, a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and his Doctor of Education from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He also attended the Harvard University Institute for Management and Leadership in Education and pursued postgraduate music study at the Blossom Festival School of Music/Kent State University.
He is married to Dr. Boris Thomas, a psychotherapist and executive coach in private practice.