A vibrant group of active alumni who serve as ambassadors for the School.
The purpose of the Alumni Council is to serve both the needs of Manhattan School of Music and alumni with the overall goal of improving and developing greater connections among alumni and with the School.
New York City resident Justin Bischof is one of the most eclectic artists of his generation. He is an internationally acclaimed orchestral & opera conductor as well as concert organist, pianist, and improviser. He has performed in some of the world’s great venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Tonhalle of Zurich, Eli Broad Theatre of Los Angeles, St. Paul’s Cathedral London, Notre Dame Paris, Cologne Cathedral, to name a few. He has collaborated with some of the world’s most prominent artists including Joshua Bell, Bright Sheng, Tan Dun and Roberta Peters. As an orchestral conductor, he was worked with numerous ensembles including National Arts Center Orchestra, The Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Vancouver Symphony, the Royal Symphony of Oman, the State Philharmonic Kavkazskiye of Russia, the WAAPA orchestra in Perth Australia, and the National Orchestra of Haiti. He is the Founder & Artistic Director of MOO The Modus Opera Orchestra of New York City which has presented an Annual Children’s Benefit to help at risk children that has raised over US$1,000,000. He made his Australian Opera Conducting Debut in Perth at the WAAPA leading a critically acclaimed production of the Australian Premiere of Robert Ward’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Crucible. This nationally celebrated artistic event was a highlight of the Australian classical music season. Other important opera premieres include the Hawaiian premiere of Menotti’s The Medium and The Telephone, working with members of The Honolulu Symphony and Hawaii Opera Theatre. As Artistic Director of Modus Opera, he has led several full productions including Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni. With international mezzo-soprano Ariana Chris, Maestro Bischof has conducted and led from the piano several benefit concerts entitled Opera Trash at Carnegie Hall and Le Poisson Rouge receiving rave reviews. He led a production of Britten’s Rape of Lucretia in 2019 at the newly renovated historic Flea Theatre. He is one of the profession’s most respected organists and has concertized extensively. He won the First Prize at the 2000 AGO International Organ Improvisation Competition and is a leading proponent of the craft with his all improvisation performances have been met with critical acclaim throughout the world. Bischof has performed and recorded with numerous orchestras including the Zurich Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, and the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt. He will be performing the Middle East premiere of Samuel Barber’s Toccata Festiva for Orchestra and Organ in February 2019 at the Royal Opera House in Muscat Oman with the Neue Philharmonie Frankfurt.
Wendy Talio is an Independent Data Analyst for Living Artist Analytics, LLC. She enjoyed a multi-faceted career that began as a piano teacher and accompanist and then organically morphed into the field of data science. After 25 years holding varied positions across a gamut of data and marketing services to a wide variety of clients, Ms. Talio embarked on a solo project to find the intersection between music and data. Through Living Artist Analytics, she provides marketing support and mentorship to artists navigating the internet and social media platforms to cultivate their audiences.
Cuban-American soprano Elaine Alvarez burst onto the international opera scene in 2007, making a break-out company debut with her soulful portrayal of Mimi in Puccini’s La bohème at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Alvarez has since gone on to debut at some of the world’s most leading opera houses including Oper Frankfurt, with celebrated performances of La Rondine alongside Joseph Calleja; a Bayerische Staatsoper debut as Violetta in La Traviata alongside Jonas Kaufmann and Simon Keenlyside; a return to La bohème for Opera National de Bordeaux, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, Virginia Opera, Oper Leipzig, Oper Frankfurt, Arizona Opera and the Metropolitan Opera; and a company debut as Aïda under the baton of legendary Maestro Riccardo Muti, marking her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Alvarez previously joined Maestro Muti on tour with the Orchestra e Coro Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in concert performances of Rossini’s Stabat Mater. Other notable engagements include Tosca with Choregies d’Orange and Opera de Oviedo; Kat’a Kabanova with Boston Lyric Opera; Florencia en el Amazonas for San Diego Opera; major Verdi debuts as Elvira in Ernani, Hélène in the rarely-produced Jerusalem, and the title role of Aïda for Opera Royal de Wallonie; and a return to ORW for her first foray into the bel canto repertoire as Donizetti’s infamous Tudor Queen, Anna Bolena.
Born to Swedish parents in Zurich (Switzerland), Claesson is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and professional polyglot. A graduate of MSM’s inaugural class of Musical Theatre, she is known for blurring lines between genres and constantly finding new ways to tell stories. Ticketcorner Magazine describes Helena as “A Swiss Army knife made in Sweden: Versatile and flawless.”
Eisenbach received a B.A. in modern European history from Columbia University; an M.A. in history education from Teachers College, Columbia University; and an M.A. in American history from the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he is currently earning a Ph D. In addition to teaching courses on American history, Shakespeare’s tragedies, and the literature of the 1960s at Manhattan School of Music, Mr. Eisenbach is a teaching fellow at Columbia University and an adjunct professor at City College of New York. He has been a Manhattan School of Music faculty member since 1995.
Mike Fahie is a jazz trombonist, composer, and educator living in Brooklyn. His current projects include a collaboration with legendary trumpet player John McNeil (represented on the Destiny Records release, Plainsong), the Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra (represented on the current Greenleaf Music release, Urban(e)), and the Mike Fahie Quintet (heard on Mike’s debut album, Anima, released on the Brooklyn Jazz Underground label). He is also an in-demand sideman in New York City, playing with many highly recognized groups. He is the lead trombonist of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, a three-time Grammy nominated ensemble. He is the principal trombonist of the Gramercy Brass Orchestra of New York, and a member of the Gramercy Brass Quintet. He is also a regular member of the Dan Pugach Nonet, the Emilio Solla Tango Jazz Orchestra, and the Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra. As a composer, Mike has received numerous commissions, including 3 for premiere at the Festival of International Schools at Carnegie Hall: The Odyssey (2016) for wind band, The Planets (2019) for jazz band and strings, and Bogotà (2019) for wind band with euphonium soloist. As a commercial musician, Mike has played several Broadway shows including the Lion King, Porgy and Bess, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Ragtime, In The Heights, and Elf. He performs with various rock and pop bands and has appeared on a number of recordings and movie soundtracks. He is also a dedicated educator and is the jazz trombone instructor at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Mike has also been on the faculty of the United Nations International School for over 15 years. He has also worked across the US as a trombone and composition clinician. Mike was a finalist for the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Trombone Competition and was the first ever Canadian Fulbright Scholar in jazz.
Capt. Kenneth Force served as Director of Music of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for over 45 years, having begun that position in 1971. He was previously an influential music teacher at the Port Chester High School in Westchester. His performance career included playing in the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra; on Broadway in such shows as My Fair Lady; and touring with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus Band. He is the author of the book British Band Concepts in America and is frequently called on to give clinics, write articles, and guest conduct ensembles throughout the U.S. and Europe. He has been honored with a lifetime achievement award from the USDAN Center for the Performing Arts and honorary membership in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association (one of only eight individuals to hold that distinction). In May 2004, he was presented with the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution for his dedication and service to the “Arts, Historic Preservation, and for his Patriotism” and, in 2009, was awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award from Manhattan School of Music.
Dr. Heather Amlin Hamilton, Ed.D., a native of Fairfield, CT, is the Director of Music at Saugatuck Church, UCC in Westport and is also the owner of Hamilton Music Services, where she teaches piano, theory and history to students of all ages and abilities. Hamilton has attended the Mannes College of Music and holds two master’s degrees from Manhattan School of Music. She has the distinction of being the first fellowship recipient as pianist in the Orchestral Performance Program at MSM, studying with Harriet Wingreen, former pianist with the NY Philharmonic. In 2010 Heather received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Bridgeport, CT. Dr. Hamilton has performed as pianist, accompanist, organist, percussionist and conductor throughout the United States and Europe. She has performed in many venues in NYC including Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, Town Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center. She performed in 2018 at the Metropolitan Club with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Branford Marsalis in a piece by Miles Davis Arr. by another alum., Charles Coleman. As a graduate student, she premiered over eighty new works and was fortunate to work with acclaimed composers Aaron Jay Kernis, Richard Danielpour and John Corigliano. Heather was a piano fellow and attended the National Orchestral Institute, The Waterloo Music Festival, was assistant to Jeaneane Dowis at the Music Studies Abroad Program in Provence, France for two summers and was a conducting student at the Tanglewood Music Center in 1987 learning from Leonard Bernstein, Gustav Meier, and Seiji Ozawa. Dr. Hamilton has performed under the batons of Marin Alsop, Leonard Slatkin, Kurt Masur, Gerard Schwartz, and Gunther Schuller, among others. In her free time Heather is an avid tennis player and serves on many boards and committees in Fairfield County and NYC.
Savannah Harris is a New York City-based drummer, composer, and producer. She has performed alongside Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran, Kenny Barron, Aaron Parks, Terence Blanchard, Geri Allen, and Georgia Anne Muldrow. She currently tours with Etienne Charles’ Creole Soul, José James, Peter Evans’ Being + Becoming, the María Grand Trio, Or Bareket, and avant-garde art collective Standing on the Corner. Savannah is an active collaborator creating interdisciplinary works with The Second City improv group, Vail Dance Festival Artistic Director Damian Woetzel, and visual artist Mark Fox. As a bandleader, Savannah has taken her trio to Wine and Bowties’ Feels V festival as well as the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. She was awarded the Harlem Stage Emerging Artist Award in 2019 and holds her master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music, under program director Stefon Harris. She is also a teaching artist for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz for Young People programs.
American conductor Brian Holman has performed on five continents to great acclaim. He is Music Director of New Rochelle Opera and Associate Conductor of Modus Opera Orchestra. Recent credits include the world premiere of Larry Delinger’s ShadowLight (Marble City Opera), Les contes d’Hoffmann (Opera Orlando), Le nozze di Figaro (Inland Northwest Opera), La traviata, La bohème (New Rochelle Opera), Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, La Cenerentola (Red River Lyric Opera), Amelia Lost (Cleveland Opera Theater, Marble City Opera), and Rape of Lucretia (New Camerata Opera). Festivals: Harare International Festival of the Arts, Mediterranean Opera Festival, Film Fest Tucson. Orchestras: Orlando Philharmonic, Lebanese Philharmonic, Spokane Symphony, Tucson Symphony, Tucson Pops, Baroque2000 Chamber Orchestra Durban. Assistant Conductor: New York City Opera, Opera Africa, Treasure Coast Opera, Montclair State University Opera. An accomplished pianist, Brian has appeared with a singers across a broad musical spectrum: Nelly Miricioiu, Laquita Mitchell, Aprile Millo, Stella Zambalis, Francisco Casanova, Hans-Pieter Herman, John Mac Master, James Valenti, Lester Lynch, Daniel Borowski, Nini Cáffaro, Dawn Padmore, Kofo the Wonderman. Brian has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Salle Cortot, Teatro Nacional de Santo Domingo, Feinstein’s 54 Below, MGM Grand Detroit, Casino du Liban, The Duplex, Don’t Tell Mama, The Rainbow Room, the UN, and has been featured on international radio and television (WQXR, Classic FM, Sirius XM, Esimora Cultural RAC Colombia, Alhurra, LBCI, TeleOccidente Sicilia).
Bolivian soprano Shelén Hughes passionately believes in education, social service, and music as a core value in life. Previous credits include Inez from Mercadante’s I Due Figaro (Manhattan School of Music), Snegurochka from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegurochka (Manhattan School of Music), Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen (Chautauqua Institution), Magda in Puccini’s La Rondine, and her Carnegie Hall soloist debut in April of 2019. Ms. Hughes was a finalist in the 2020 Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition in the southeastern region. She was awarded 1st place and people’s choice award in the Harlem Opera Theater competition in 2017 and was a winner in the SAI competition at the Chautauqua Institution in 2018. Ms. Hughes was a young artist at the 2019 Gstaad Menuhin Festival under the direction of Silvana Bartoli and she was a 2020 Gerdine Young Artist at the digital season of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. She is the founder of “Voices for Bolivia,” an international non-profit organization for children, women and elderly in need in Bolivia, fully funded by classical music. She graduated with her MM and BM, receiving the honorary Hugh Ross award, from Manhattan school of Music, was a recipient of the 2019–20 Mae Zenke Orvis Opera Scholarship, and is studying with Ashley Putnam.
Pianist Eunbi Kim (pronounced OON-bee, like book) is creating new ways of experiencing concert music as a performer, speaker, and arts advocate. Her adventurous recitals, cast in venues across the United States, are characterized by their vividly personal themes ranging from mental illness to familial memories, and have received international recognition in television and in print. Most known as the creator of music-theater work Murakami Music, she has also recorded an album of Fred Hersch’s rare concert music, premiered work by Emmy-nominated composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) and gave a TEDx talk in 2017. Off-stage, Kim’s entrepreneurial efforts include launching a music mentorship program for women, transgender, and nonbinary musicians, bespoken, alongside co-founder Gina Izzo in addition to speaking engagements at organizations, universities, and institutions across the country.
Yahan Liu is the Asian Business Development Representative for Steinway & Sons. An award-winning pianist, she enjoys a multifaceted career as a performer and teacher. She holds a Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music and is a winner of the Clifton Foundation’s Emerging Artist Award, the National Young Maestro Competition, and the Rowan Soloists’ Competition. Her primary teachers include Joanne Polk, Lydia Boguslavsky, and Pei Sun. A passionate educator, she has taught piano extensively throughout the New Jersey and New York areas as well as in China. Liu has undergone extensive training in the history and education of Steinway & Sons’ legendary pianos. Through her role at Steinway, Yahan also supports a team of Steinway Teachers and Educational Partners, with whom she organizes student recitals, promotes competitions, and exchanges relevant updates about teaching and playing piano in the 21st century.
Chris Nappi has performed and/or recorded with Steve Reich and Musicians, SEM Ensemble, Newband, North Carolina Symphony, and Ben E. King. As a composer he has created music for the dance, theater, and multimedia installations. He has recorded for the record labels Asphodel, BIS, Dog w/a Bone, Ear-Rational, EMI, Mode, New Tone, New World Records, René Block Editions, Tzadìk, and Wergo. As Music Director for the Erick Hawkins Dance Company he has conducted at major dance venues in the U.S., including the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina. He serves on the percussion faculty of the Manhattan School of Music Precollege and the Ostrava Center for New Music in the Czech Republic. He has been guest soloist at the Ostrava Center since 2001, performing European and world premieres of percussion solo and chamber music by such composers as John Cage, Morton Feldman, Alvin Lucier, and Christian Wolff.
Penny Prince has been connected to her beloved Manhattan School of Music since age 11 when she began piano studies with Zenon Fishbein. Professor Fishbein was a pivotal influence in her life, and after attending the Preparatory Division, Penny earned her BM and MM in piano at MSM. She has concertized and taught in the N.Y.C. area ever since. Penny went on to earn her PhD in Music Education at NYU Steinhardt School, and is an Associate Professor at Lehman College, CUNY, teaching music education, piano for music educators, and various other courses. Penny Prince is a prolific composer of musicals, and produces collaborative musical theatre plays at Lehman and for the community. Her next musical is an online production of “Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet,” airing in September 2020. Dr. Prince is an advocate for criminal justice/prison reform. She founded the Reentry Committee at Lehman College which serves to educate the community and welcome and support formerly incarcerated students and families.
Vocalist Shannyn Rinker is a recent graduate of Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Program, as well as a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Vocal Performance Program. Continually inspired by collaborative spaces, Shannyn looks forward to working with the Alumni Council to further musical engagement and achievement among the MSM community. Shannyn was appointed the Alumni Engagement Associate at Manhattan School of Music in 2020.
A native of Queens, Jeff Scott started the French horn at age 14, receiving an anonymous gift scholarship to go to the Brooklyn College Preparatory Division. An even greater gift came from his first teacher, Carolyn Clark, who taught the young Scott for free during his high school years, giving him the opportunity to study music when resources were not available. Mr. Scott continued his studies at Manhattan School of Music and SUNY @ Stony Brook, studying horn performance with David Jolley and William Purvis, as well as Scott Brubaker and Jerome Ashby. Mr. Scott’s performance credits are many and varied. They include The Lion King orchestra (on Broadway, New York) from 1997–2005, and the 1994 revival of Showboat from 1994–97. He has performed numerous times under the direction of Wynton Marsalis with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Mr. Scott is the French hornist in the internationally acclaimed wind quintet “Imani Winds” and is a prolific composer/arranger. Jeff Scott was recently appointed as Associate Professor of Horn at Oberlin College.
Eganam “ÉGO” K. Segbefia got his start busking at the Grand Central Shuttle “S” train station and has since performed at premiere venues in New York City such as The Greene Space, Trinity Wall Street Church, The Riverside Church, Cathedral of St. John The Divine, Symphony Space, and Carnegie Hall. Throughout his education, Eganam has received multiple awards and scholarships including the Manhattan School of Music Educational Assistance Program Scholarship, EALGreen Scholarship, South Carolina State University Marching Band Scholarship, and Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music’s Most Improved award. Eganam is also the winner of Manhattan School of Music’s prestigious Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition. Eganam received his master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music and his bachelor’s degree from South Carolina State University. Devoted to his mantra, “Inspiration Without Perspiration is Hallucination,” Eganam is now pursuing his dream of becoming a premier soloist and using his growing platform to provide clinics and workshops to high school and college students, highlighting the value of working hard, and working smart towards actualizing dreams.
Chandler Sinks is a current musical theatre major at Manhattan School of Music. Born and raised in Dallas, he moved to New York after graduating high school in the hopes of becoming an actor, and he’s been lucky so far. Chandler started theatre when he was 16 being cast as Flotsam and Jetsam in his high school’s production of The Little Mermaid alongside his twin brother, Chad. In the 5 years since he started performing, Chandler has led multiple shows at Manhattan School of Music, such as Clifford Bradshaw in Cabaret (dir. Don Stephenson, MD David Loud), Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd (dir. Ted Pappas, MD David Loud), and played Pierre Curie in the 2018 Fred Ebb Grant winning show, Radioactive (dir. Sammi Cannhold). He also made his Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist in the Spring of 2019 at Manhattan School of Music Centennial Gala, conducted by Leonard Slatkin and hosted by Alec Baldwin (but Chandler was too scared to introduce himself!). In his spare time Chandler loves to travel, make music, and spend as much time as possible outdoors. He also teaches private voice and acting for the non-profit organization Reaching for the Arts and believes it is one of his proudest achievements.
Alexa Smith is the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President at Manhattan School of Music. She oversees MSM’s Board of Trustees, the Cultural Inclusion Initiative, and strategic partnerships on behalf of the Office of The President. In partnership with Values Partnership and Gauge, she led a campus-wide survey on efforts around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Following feedback from the Community, she created school-wide programming including discipline specific workshops, round tables, and panel discussions with guests including WQXR’s Terrance McKnight, Metropolitan Opera soprano Harolyn Blackwell, and others. Previously, she served as Marketing Director at New York City Opera where she led marketing efforts and special events with partners including The Mexican Cultural Institute, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, Rosa Mexicano, The Ucross Foundation, and Passport Magazine. After earning her master’s degree from MSM in voice, she pursued a career in performance with highlights including Respighi’s La Campana Sommersa; Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Rachmaninoff’s Aleko (New York City Opera); Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (dell’Arte Opera); Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance); and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Barn Arts Theatre). Equally at home on the theatre stage, she has also been seen as Sharon Graham in Terrence McNally’s Master Class with BarnArts Theatre, Beatrice in the off-Broadway revival of Michael John LaChiusa’s Marie Christine (Columbia Stages/3LD), and Sarah in Ragtime (CNR Drama). She has received awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, was a finalist in the Giulio Gari Foundation and Arkadi Foundation competitions and a recent semi-finalist in the Joy in Singing Art Song Competition. She is a member of the 2020–2022 SphinxLEAD, a 2-year professional empowerment program designed to evolve the landscape of arts leadership.
Phyllis Beeson Susen Barbash (deceased)
John K. Blanchard
Blanche Heisler Blitstein
Anthony de Mare
Salvatore Di Vittorio
Dianne Danese Flagello
Dennis Jeter III
Irwin Katz (deceased)
Cornelius Claudio Kreusch
John Lewis (deceased)
Shirley Manuel (deceased)
Steven Nugget (student representative)
Charles Bryan Nelson, Jr.
Marilyn (Teitler) Tyler (deceased)
Elizabeth R. Van Arsdel
Lola Cummings Weiss
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