MSM Chamber Sinfonia Opens a New Season of Rob Kapilow’s What Makes it Great?
Monday November 7 at 7:30 PM
Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center

NOVEMBER 1 (NEW YORK) – On November 7, the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) Chamber Sinfonia opens the new season of Rob Kapilow’s acclaimed What Makes It Great? series with a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C Major. Kapilow, a PBS and NPR music commentator and ongoing host of this successful series, will conduct.

Described by TheatreMania as a “knockout combination of entertainment and education,” What Makes it Great? explores the importance of great musical masterpieces. Host Kapilow’s unique from-the-podium perspective and musicological knowledge have informed the discussion and fascinated audiences for over 15 years.

After MSM Chamber Sinfonia’s performance of the symphony that launched Beethoven’s career, Kapilow will host an in-depth discussion of the work, accompanied by an audience Q&A. Published in 1801 and begun as early as 1795, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 is often described as “[the composer’s] farewell to the 18th Century,” explains Kapilow. “In many ways, it’s also an introduction to the new world of the 19th century…the world of Beethoven.”

The evening will be recorded and broadcast at a later date on WWFM The Classical Network.

MSM CHAMBER ORCHESTRA & Rob Kapilow’s What Makes it Great?
Monday, November 7, 7:30 PM
Merkin Concert Hall, Kaufman Music Center
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1 in C Major, Op. 21
Rob Kapilow, Conductor
Tickets available at

For more information, please contact:
Caryn Toriaga | Manager of Public Relations
917.493.4429 /


Rob Kapilow’s What Makes It Great?® (WMIG) made its auspicious debut on NPR’s Performance Today over 20 years ago, and with its accessible ten-minute format it quickly attracted a wide base of fans and followers. Snowballing in popularity, it developed into a full-length concert evening and was soon snapped up by presenters looking to build new audiences. What Makes It Great?® has sold out regular subscription series in places as diverse as Kansas City, MO, Cerritos, CA, as well as at New York’s Lincoln Center, the Celebrity Series of Boston, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and the National Gallery of Canada. The latest installment of WMIG concerts is now being presented by the Toronto Symphony, and will include Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, the Beethoven Violin Concerto and Copeland’s Appalachian Spring.

In 2008, PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center broadcast a special What Makes It Great?® show, bringing it to TV screens throughout the US; worldwide audiences were also able to see and experience Kapilow’s trademarked presentations when Lincoln Center inaugurated a series of WMIG video podcasts. Kapilow designed a series of WMIG events especially for teenagers, and, in 2005, he introduced them to thousands of middle- and high-school children in collaboration with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, in a series that has continued on an annual basis and has been repeated around North America. Kapilow’s Bernstein “Songbook” event at Lincoln Center has been selected as one of the New York Times’s “Top Ten Moments” of theater offerings. In the fall of 2015, a new series will be launched by WWFM radio which will broadcast one live WMIG program a month during the 15-16 season.

Rob Kapilow’s What Makes It Great?® programs are available on CD, on the Vanguard Everyman Classics label. In discs devoted to Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusic and the “Jupiter” Symphony, Kapilow breaks the music down in a listener-friendly way – pulling themes apart, demonstrating how the tunes might sound in lesser hands, guiding listeners through the maze of melodies – and then finishes up with a complete performance of the work. In addition, in 2015, Kapilow began a new series of downloadable WMIG audiobook programs in partnership with Roven Records and Audible available worldwide at


For over 20 years, Rob Kapilow has brought the joy and wonder of classical music – and unraveled some of its mysteries – to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Characterized by his unique ability to create an “aha” moment for his audiences and collaborators, whatever their level of musical sophistication or naiveté, Kapilow’s work brings music into people’s lives: opening new ears to musical experiences and helping people to listen actively rather than just hear. As the Boston Globe said, “It’s a cheering thought that this kind of missionary enterprise did not pass from this earth with Leonard Bernstein. Rob Kapilow is awfully good at what he does. We need him.”

Kapilow’s range of activities is astonishingly broad, including his What Makes It Great?® presentations (now for over fifteen seasons in New York and Boston), his family compositions and Family Musik® events, his “Citypieces”, and residencies with institutions as diverse as the National Gallery of Canada and Stanford University. The reach of his interactive events and activities is wide, both geographically and culturally: from Native American tribal communities in Montana and inner-city high school students in Louisiana to audiences in Kyoto and Kuala Lumpur, and from tots barely out of diapers to musicologists in Ivy League programs, his audiences are diverse and unexpected, but invariably rapt and keen to come back for more.


Founded as a settlement music school by Janet Daniels Schenck in 1918, today Manhattan School of Music is recognized for its 950 superbly talented undergraduate and graduate students who come from more than 50 countries and nearly all 50 states; a world-renowned artist-teacher faculty; and innovative curricula. The School is dedicated to the personal, artistic, and intellectual development of aspiring musicians, from its Precollege students through those pursuing postgraduate studies.

Offering both classical and jazz training – and, beginning in fall 2016, a Bachelor's degree program in musical theater – MSM grants Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees, as well as the Professional Studies Certificate and Artist Diploma. Additionally, true to MSM's origins as a music school for children, the Precollege program continues to offer superior music instruction to young musicians between the ages of five and 18. The School also serves some 2,000 New York City schoolchildren through its Arts-in-Education Program, and another 2,000 students through its critically acclaimed Distance Learning Program.