MSM History

Virtual Yearbooks: 2000s

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This information is arranged by year and includes MSM historical and other highlights of New York City’s music history.


The Pan-African Student Union presents a Tribute to Betty Allen, faculty member and trustee, in February.

man in tux playing percussion in front of musicians

The Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra is created, Bobby Sanabria, Director.

A gala benefit, Salute to Glenn Dicterow, is celebrated on April 10 in cooperation with the New York Philharmonic to recognize Dicterow’s profound influence on the worlds of orchestral music and music education.

A Mendelssohn symposium takes place on October 6 and features Kurt Masur conducting the Manhattan School of Music Symphony in Avery Fisher Hall. This is the third annual event of its kind organized by the School.

Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin performs in John C. Borden Auditorium in October, offering the concert for the faculty, students, and supporters of the School. Kissin is awarded an honorary doctorate the following spring (see 2001).

black and white photo of orchestra rehearsing
In May, more than 100 MSM student musicians travel to Caracas for a musical and cultural exchange with the National Children’s Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

Manhattan School of Music begins construction on an additional multi-use building directly north and adjacent to the School’s existing building. This long-awaited facility will permit the School to house students and provide expanded facilities for both practice and performance.

December — The Opera Theatre presents The House of Seven Gables by Scott Eyerly. A live, premiere recording is later released (Albany label).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Isaac Stern is honored at Carnegie Hall with concerts celebrating his 80th birthday and his 40th anniversary as president of Carnegie Hall.
  • Alumna Dawn Upshaw (MM ’85) is Musical America’s “Vocalist of the Year.”
  • Alumna Jane Monheit (BM ’99) releases her debut album, Never Never Land, which remaines on the Billboard Jazz chart for over a year and is voted Best Debut Recording by the members of the Jazz Journalists Association.
  • A Pulitzer Prize is awarded John Corigliano (MSM alumnus and former faculty) for his Symphony No. 2 for String Orchestra.
  • EchoTempo for soprano, percussion, and orchestra by Susan Botti (MSM alumna and faculty) is given its world premiere on November 1 by the New York Philharmonic, which commissioned the work. Bottis is soloist along with percussionist Christopher Lamb (MSM faculty).


At the May commencement ceremonies, faculty member Adele Addison is awarded an honorary doctorate; Stanley Bednar (Class of 1949/54) and Lucile Lawrence are recipients of the President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service. In a special ceremony on May 4, pianist Evgeny Kissin is awarded an honorary doctorate at ceremonies in Hubbard Recital Hall (pictured).

May — Over one hundred student musicians from Manhattan School of Music travel to Caracas, Venezuela, for a musical and cultural exchange with the National Children’s Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

concert with symphony and pianist

The first concert of the 2001–02 Manhattan School of Music concert season on September 21, 2001, celebrated the opening of the Chris G. and SungEun Andersen Residence Hall and brought our community together after the events of 9/11. Zdenek Macal conducted the MSM Symphony with alumnus Kirill Gerstein as soloist in Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto.

The G. Chris and SungEun Andersen Hall is dedicated and opened in the fall. Housing over 350 students, this wonderful new facility also provides students with much-needed practice rooms, doubling the practice space previously available. Future plans include an expanded library and two new performance spaces. SungEun Andersen is a member of the Board of Trustees and a Manhattan School of Music graduate, having studied piano with Constance Keene.

The Opera Theatre presents a double-bill of Amelia Goes to the Ball by Gian Carlo Menotti and Roman Fever by Robert Ward. A live, premiere recording is later released of the Ward opera (Albany label).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • “Concert for NYC” airs on VH1, featuring Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, The Who, and Billy Joel.


Master classes include: violinist Pamela Frank, pictured; oboist Eugene Izotov; chamber musician Michael Tree; collaborative artist and pianist Joseph Seiger (Class of 1951); mezzo-soprano Fedora Barbieri; soprano Lauren Flanigan (Class of 1984); cellist Mstislav Rostropovich; collaborative artist and pianist Brian Zeger (Class of 1987); David McGill, principal bassoon, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and violist Helen Callus.

At the May commencement ceremonies, the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, honoris causa, is awarded to mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick (MM ’83). She treats the graduates to a performance (pictured) of “La luce langue” from Verdi’s Macbeth.

The Fall opera production features the New York premiere of The Seagull, a setting of the Chekov play by Thomas Pasatieri and Kenward Elmslie.

A select group of students in the Orchestral Performance program work with members of the Berlin Philharmonic.

concert hall with piano on stage

Hubbard Recital Hall is given major renovations over the summer and renamed Gordon K. and Harriet Greenfield Recital Hall, in honor of the long-standing trustee and his wife.

Dr. Joanne Polk (Class of 1990) is appointed to head the Preparatory Division, which is later renamed Precollege.

Justin DiCioccio (Class of 1971) becomes Assistant Dean/ Chair of the newly renamed Jazz Arts Program, formerly the Jazz/Commercial Music Department. He is later appointed Associate Dean (2011).

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • John Adams composes On the Transmigration of Souls for New York Philharmonic in commemoration of first anniversary of September 11, 2001.
  • MSM alumnus Shuler Hensley (BM ’90) wins a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Jud in Oklahoma!.


The School’s orchestras are led in concert by such conductors as Graziella Contratto, Sergiu Comissiona, JoAnn Falletta, Jean-Bernard Pommier, Jerzy Semkow, and Julius Rudel, with readings given by David Robertson and Charles Dutoit.

A symposium on Berlioz is held in Borden Auditorium. Charles Dutoit, pictured with the MSM Symphony, conducts.

The Claremont Ensemble celebrates the music of faculty member Ned Rorem in honor of his 80th birthday.

Master class artists include Lauren Flanigan (alumna), David Sanchez, Joseph Seiger (alumnus), Licia Albanese, Pamela Frank, Brian Zeger (alumnus), and Anna Moffo.

Justin DiCioccio (MM ’71), who was recently named Associate Dean of Jazz Studies, leads the Jazz Orchestra in two recordings released this year: Sketches of Spain, with guest soloist Dave Liebman, and a collection of contemporary jazz compositions dedicated to the memory of Manny Albam, jazz faculty member who passed away in 2002.

A new degree offering in the doctoral program is announced for the fall: the jazz department will offer a DMA in Jazz Arts Advancement. This degree is unique in its shared emphasis on composition, performance, and pedagogy.

May 18 — At the commencement ceremonies, the President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service is awarded to Richard Elder Adams (Class of 1961) and Ursula Mamlock (Class of 1957/58). Honorary doctorates are awarded conductor/music director Paul Gemignani and jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis, who gives an impromptu performance.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • The Judy and Arthur Zankel Hall opens at Carnegie Hall.
  • Hairspray wins Tony Award for Best Musical.
  • Herbie Hancock (MSM alumnus) wins a Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo on My Ship.


January — Manhattan School of Music is a strong presence at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference (IAJE) held in New York, including the debut of the School’s Jazz Philharmonic, and various performances by students, faculty, and alumni. An alumni reception is held, sponsored by the Alumni Council.

March — A weeklong conducting workshop is established featuring Maestro Kurt Masur, Music Director of the New York Philharmonic from 1991 – 2002.

May — At commencement, honorary doctorates are awarded to Sidney Harth, the acclaimed violinist and conductor, and Constance Keene, the renowned pianist and admired faculty member who is also a member of the board of trustees. The President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service is awarded to Leonard Davis, Rosetta Goodkind, and Nathan Stutch. The commencement speaker is Ara Guzelimian, artistic director of Carnegie Hall.

stone seal with music lyre

The hand-carved, stone replica of the School’s seal — which had been in storage since being removed in 1971 from the facade of the the School’s previous home on the East Side — is installed permanently in the main lobby.

Work is completed on the Peter Jay Sharp Library in the new building, and doors open for use in the fall.

November — The Opera Theatre presents A Month in the Country by Lee Hoiby. A live, premiere recording is later released (Albany label). Pictured are John Michael Ball and JennyRebecca Winans.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Alumna/mezzo-soprano Susan Graham (MM ’87) is named Musical America’s “Vocalist of the Year.”
  • Wynton Marsalis is named Musical America’s “Musician of the Year.”
  • Luciano Pavarotti gives his last performance in an opera, Tosca, at the Metropolitan Opera.
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center opens the Frederick P. Rose Hall, with the Rose Theater, the Allen Room, and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.


man speaking to woman with violin on stage

Composer, conductor, and founding director of IRCAM Pierre Boulez is in residence for a week  in April of lectures, rehearsals, and performances of his music — pictured here in Borden Auditorium coaching violinist Judy Kang.

Marta Casals Istomin, president of Manhattan School of Music since July 1992, announces her retirement. David A. Rahm, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, states: “Mrs. Istomin has presided over an extraordinary chapter in the history of Manhattan School of Music. During her tenure, Manhattan School of Music has grown in stature from a leading conservatory of music in the United States to a place of international eminence. She has provided a secure platform on which we can build a great future in the community.”

May — The School’s 79th Commencement ceremony, which for many years has been held in Borden Auditorium, is held at Riverside Church. Honorary doctorates are awarded to retiring President Marta Istomin and renowned pianist and pedagogue Claude Frank. The President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service is awarded to Joseph Robinson and Homer Mensch (in absentia).

The Preparatory Division is renamed the Precollege Division.

man in suit and tie

The Board of Trustees vote unanimously on June 21 to name the distinguished American composer Robert Sirota the School’s eighth president, effective October 2005. Dr. Sirota had been the director of Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory for the previous ten years.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • John Harbison’s Milosz Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, a New York Philharmonic commission, receives its world premiere.
  • MSM alumna Margaret Juntwait (BM ’80) succeeds Milton Cross and Peter Allen as host of the Metropolitan Opera Saturday Broadcast and begins presenting the Met’s broadcasts on Sirius radio.
  • Drummer Max Roach (MSM alumnus) is inducted into the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, the first living artist to be so honored.
  • Susan Graham (MSM alumna) wins a Grammy Award for her recording Ives: Songs (The Things Our Fathers Loved; The Housatonic at Stockbridge, etc.)


May — Held in The Riverside Church, the School’s 80th Commencement ceremony includes the presentation of an honorary doctorate to violinist Robert Mann. The President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service is awarded to David Noon and Constance Colby.

American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne is awarded an honorary doctorate during the School’s opening Convocation in September (pictured here signing souvenir MSM programs after one of her master classes).

MSM Jazz Orchestra gives world premiere of Gunnar Mosblad’s arrangement of John Coltrane’s Meditations Suite during MSM’s Coltrane Summit.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • New York Philharmonic is first major orchestra to sign an agreement to produce downloadable concerts on DG Concerts label and first recording immediately reaches No. 1 on the iTunes classical charts.
  • Peter Gelb becomes general manager of the Metropolitan Opera and offers opera to the masses, simulcasting Madama Butterfly in Times Square and on the plaza at Lincoln Center.
  • Thelonius Monk is posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Music.
  • Dawn Upshaw (MSM alumna) wins a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording for Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears).


Construction of two new performance spaces is completed in the Spring. Architects and planners Beyer Blinder Belle spearhead the design of the final phase of campus enhancement started in 2000. The new spaces include: the William R. and Irene D. Miller Recital Hall (pictured), an intimate jewel box space seating 153; and the Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Performance Space, a multi-faceted space for informal performances of chamber music, jazz, opera, musical theater, as well as rehearsal space for large ensembles. Also completed is a president’s residence atop Andersen Hall, which features an important and much-needed facility for donor cultivation.

A Concert Gala was held at the Mandarin Oriental in Midtown on May 1 to raise funds and inaugurate the School’s 90th Anniversary season. Honorees of the event were Pinchas Zukerman, Evgeny Kissin, and Thomas Hampson. Mr. Hampson was unable to attend due to illness; soprano Lauren Flanigan (Class of 1984) graciously agreed to step in on short notice and sing for the guests.

May — The School’s 81st Commencement ceremony, held in The Riverside Church, includes the presentation of honorary doctorates to jazz musician Dave Brubeck and Manhattan School of Music Board of Trustees Chairman David Rahm. The President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service is awarded to Sylvia Rosenberg and Justin DiCioccio (Class of 1971).

Manhattan School of Music inaugurates graduate degree program in Contemporary Performance, the first of its kind.

A dual-degree program in music education is begun. Graduates will earn a master’s degree in performance, a master’s degree in education (from Teacher’s College at Columbia University), and 1-12 certification to teach n the New York City public school system.

Manhattan School of Music launches its 90th Anniversary: “Manhattan Takes Manhattan,” the kick-off to an 18-month calendar of special performances and events. Two performances — one in Times Square and one on 125th Street — take place on Thursday, October 18, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaims “Manhattan School of Music Day” in the City of New York.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Ornette Coleman receives Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Pulitzer Prize for his quartet album, Sound Grammar.
  • Margaret Garner by Richard Danielpour (MSM faculty), with libretto by Toni Morrison, receives New York debut at New York City Opera. A preview prgram is held at MSM.
  • Alan Gilbert appointed music director of New York Philharmonic to succeed Lorin Maazel
  • Dawn Upshaw (MSM alumnus) is awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called “Genius Award.”


The Opera Theatre mounts a production of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene as part of the 90th Anniversary Celebration.

Commencement ceremonies feature a once-in-a-life-time experiece for graduates: honorary doctorates are awarded to Pete Seeger (who leads the audience in a sing-a-long), Billy Joel (who adds his own verse to Mr. Seeger’s song), and alumna Susan Graham (who gives the commencement address). The President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service is awarded to Solomon Mikowsky and Toby Hanks.

Kent Tritle joins the faculty as Director of Choral Activities and conducts the MSM Symphony and Symphonic Chorus in Orff’s Carmina Burana that November.

An All-Alumni Reunion is held October 16–18. Distinguished Alumni Awards are given to Clem De Rosa ’55, George Manahan ’67, Aaron Jay Kernis ’81, Sung Han-Andersen ’87, Richard E. Adams ’61, and Jane Monheit ’99.

The Opera Theatre mounts a production of John Musto’s Later That Same Evening in the fall.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • Jazz saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón (MSM alumnus) is awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called “Genius Award.”
  • The Manhattan Saxophone Quartet is formed by students at Manhattan School of Music.


The Opera Theatre mounts a production of Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus in the spring.

At the May commencement ceremonies, honorary doctorates are awarded to baritone Thomas Hampson and critic Alex Ross. Conductor JoAnn Falletta, who was also to have received an honorary doctorate, was unable to attend the ceremony; her recognition will happen in September. The President’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Service is awarded to Maitland Peters and Marc Silverman (Class of 1977/1983).

A series of annual alumni reunions is continued with an October event. Distinguished Alumni Awards are given to Joe Wilder ’53, Elliot Goldenthal ’79, Capt. Kenneth Force ’65, Laquita Mitchell ’01.

man with violin, string quartet surrounded by audience

In December, a tribute to violinist Robert Mann is held to celebrate his contributions to the music world in general and chamber music specifically. A founding member of the Juilliard String Quartet, the all-day event included a public discussion between Robert Mann and Joel Smirnoff, moderated by then-President Robert Sirota; and performances by the Cavani, Brentano, Tokyo, Pacifica, American, Shanghai, Juilliard, and Mann string quartets.

Other Highlights of New York City Musical History:

  • John Corigliano (MSM alumnus and former faculty) wins a Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for his Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan.

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