Check out the recent activities and accomplishments of former classmates.
Dianne Danese Flagello (BM/MM ’52, HonDMA ’99) received the 2020 Distinguished Music Educator Award from JCC Thurnauer School of Music at their 30th Gift of Music Gala Benefit Concert. Read more about the event here. From 1974–1999, Dianne was Director of MSM Precollege, known then as MSM’s Preparatory Division. Dianne is currently an active member of the Alumni Advisory Council.
Ron Ricketts (BM ’54, MM ’55, trombone) — see In Memoriam section.
Lynda Ciolek (MM ’76, voice) — see In Memoriam section
Adolphus Hailstork (BM ’65, MM ’66, HonDMA ’19) is writing A Knee on the Neck, contributing a new work to a large number of compositions that reflect his engagement with black history. “There are lots [of black composers] out there,” says Hailstork. “They just don’t get the chance to be performed. We need artistic administrators and conductors and performers to be interested.” Read more about the piece here. Theodore Front Music Literature, Inc., a leading sheet music and music book dealer, named Hailstork its composer of the month in August 2020.
Joseph Rescigno (MM ’69) has written the book Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music which has been published by the University of North Texas Press (May 2020). The book is featured here.
Carl Topilow (BM ’68, MM ’69) has retired as conductor at the Cleveland Institute of Music after 37 years. He continues to serve as conductor of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the National Repertory Orchestra (for the summer festival in Breckenridge, Colorado), and the Firelands Symphony (based in Sandusky, Ohio).
Flavio Varani (BM ’68) recorded twice at the Glenn Gould Studios, CBS, in Toronto this past year, the first session devoted to the works of Chopin, Cesar Franck, and Prokofieff, and the second to the major piano works of Paul Paray. Recently Flavio expanded his involvement with the visual arts and took courses in architecture, painting, and ceramics at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia. One of his oil paintings was shown at an exhibition at Greenville Center for Creative Arts in Greenville, South Carolina.
Paul-André Bempéchat (BM ’73, MM ’74) performed Beethoven’s last three Sonatas, Op. 109, 110, and 111, broadcast on the digital concert hall konzertsaal.at from June 28 – July 5, 2020.
Esther Elizabeth McCready (BM 1966, MM 1970, voice) — see In Memoriam section.
Randall Svane (BM ’77) has been commissioned along with five other composers, (one from each continent) to compose a segment of a large choral cantata titled Shadow and Hope, dealing with with worldwide pandemic. The work was premiered November 15th, 2020 on the Ickinger Konzertzyklus in Ebenhausen, Germany. A musical theme was provided that spells out the word “corona”. Each composer has developed it in their unique style. The entire work is scored for mixed choir and string quartet.
Carol Wincenc (BM ’71) celebrated the 50th anniversary of her moving to New York City, commencing her studies at Manhattan School of Music and debut with the MSM Orchestra as Concerto Soloist. Carol has built a renowned career as a world-class soloist and chamber music collaborator, has commissioned new compositions, and has performed around the world with major symphonies and at numerous series and festivals. To commemorate her career, she performed a series of recitals in the New York area during 2019– 2020 at such venues as the Morgan Library and Museum, Merkin Concert Hall, and Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts.
Rez Abbasi (BM ’89) has released “Django-shift,” a set of re-imaginings, playing the nimble music of guitar great Django Reinhardt with a trio. Read the Wall Street Journal review here.
John K. Blanchard (MM ’89) created a video, about the legacies of former MSM piano faculty members Dora Zaslavsky and Constance Keene, that has been awarded two 2020 Silver Telly Awards. It was created for Lisa Yui’s “Lives of the Piano” series, as part of the MSM Centennial Season. The awards were in the categories of “Use of Music” and “Work Within a Low Budget.” You can view this award-winning video on YouTube.
Sharon Daley-Johnson (BM ’88, MM ’89), a Manhattan School of Music Alumni Council member, was Spectrum News NY1’s New Yorker of the Week in February 2020. Watch their video of Sharon at work here. Sharon is a performing arts teacher at The Riverside School for Makers and Artists, and the founder of non-profit after-school program Reaching for the Arts Daley-Johnson also helps students prep their portfolios for their applications to specialized arts high schools and colleges, and it doesn’t cost a penny. “Youth development is poorly represented in this area, and you’re talking about the performing arts mecca of the world basically, in this area, and to not have that available was just unacceptable,” said Daley-Johnson. “To go see them now acting, singing and performing, it’s all worthwhile. It’s just amazing to see and to keep the progress going and growing. Nothing’s going to stop us, nothing is going to stop us.”
Brian Doherty (BM ’84, MM ’85) earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Manhattanville College in 2019. His area of dissertation research was technology as it relates to music education. He also wrote a piece for the May issue of Allegro (Local 802) magazine on teaching music with technology during the current pandemic.
Leon Lee Dorsey (MM ’86) has reimagined the iconic Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, released as Wolff Clark Dorsey Play Sgt. Pepper on the Jazzavenue 1 label. Dorsey is Assistant Professor of Jazz Composition & Arranging at Berklee College of Music. More info from an All About Jazz feature here.
Karen Greer (MM ’85) took over on June 1 as president of the South Shore Conservatory, a regional music and art school in Massachusetts. Geer has been executive director of the Interschool Orchestras of New York, and was previously executive director of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Before that, she was a music teacher and administrator at the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music. Read the full news story from The Boston Globe here
Tian Jiang (graduate studies, ’87–89) performed Beethoven’s Emperor piano concerto at Carnegie Hall on December 19, 2019 as part of “250 Years of Beethoven, Celebrated!”
Evan Kent (BM ’82) and his husband are featured in an article published in March by the Los Angeles Times about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their “pastoral mission.” Kent is a Los Angeles cantor who moved to Jerusalem seven years ago with his husband, Rabbi Donald Goor. In the article, Evan is described as “a mainstay of the Westside’s Temple Isaiah, as well known for charisma and compassion as for the hauntingly melodious tones he brought to his role as cantor.” Read the full article here.
Shara Sand (BM ’83) was the recipient of the 2019 American Psychological Association Diversity Award.
Toyin Spellman-Diaz (MM ’87, PS ’89), oboist of Imani Winds, was featured on at the International Double Reed Society Virtual Symposium (July 30, 2020), speaking on her life as a chamber music musician.
Kathleen Suss (MM ’89) was appointed to Vice President for Major Gifts at Concordia College New York. Kathleen continues to serve as Executive Director of Concordia Conservatory at the College, a position she has held since 1997.
Sonja Williams (MM ’87) is the Southern Division president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), a term that began in June 2020.
Sara Davis Buechner (DMA ’94) was a featured performer on 𝗪𝗤𝗫𝗥’s Second Annual Pride show celebrating the 𝗟𝗚𝗕𝗧𝗤+ community on June 18, 2020.
Marlon Daniel (BM ’93) was heard on the ‘Mostly Mozart on WQXR’ evening broadcast show with Terrance McKnight on August 12, 2020, discussing Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), an iconic figure in Black history and classical music.
Lisa DeSpain (MM ’97) is the winner of the 2020 Zepick Modern Opera Commission – Opera Kansas. Lisa will be composing a new opera, Staggerwing, about the historical flight of Louise Thaden and Blanche Noyes as they compete and win 1936 Bendix Trophy Race — the first year the prestigious aviation competition allowed all-female teams to compete. The opera will blend the music of the 1930s — blues, syncopated jazz and Tin Pan Alley song, with classical voice and opera.
Stefon Harris (BM ’95, MM ’97) was interviewed by John Burnett of National Public Radio about performing, being an educator, and teaching empathy from the bandstand. “The vibraphone, in my opinion, is just a bunch of metal and wood,” he says. “It’s not that important. Instruments are just tools. What’s important is the mission behind the individual who’s utilizing the tool. My ultimate passion is about the proliferation of empathy.” You can listen to the interview here.
Angelo L. Favis (DMA ’99), guitarist, performed a couple of virtual concerts – as part of the Linden Duo with flutist Kimberly M. Risinger for the Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s Sunday at Six Concert Series, and as guest soloist in Vivaldi’s Concerto for Guitar, RV 93 with the Muscatine Symphony Orchestra. He started his 26th year of teaching at Illinois State University, where he is Professor of Guitar and Graduate Coordinator for the School of Music.
Olivier Fluchaire (BM ’95, MM ’97) was recently appointed as Chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Division at the Manhattanville College (Purchase, New York), where he serves as an Associate Professor. The Division counts Dance, Music, Theatre and Studio Arts disciplines.
Stacey Fraser (MM ’96) has produced and performed in the film Still Life After Death which has been released on Amazon Prime Video. More info here.
Gila Goldstein (MM ’90) performed on March 5th, 2020 Olivier Messiaen’s “Oiseaux Exotiques” with the Boston University Wind Ensemble at the Tsai Performance Center in Boston. In Summer 2020 she gave an online master class for the Music Conservatory at Count Basie Center for the Arts in NJ and was a faculty member at the summer program of the Philadelphia Young Pianists’ Academy (online). In October 2020 she was one of the guest pianists at the online Sonus International Music festival celebrating the music of Argentinian composer Carlos Guastavino, and played his piano solo version of “Las Niñas“.
Kelly Hall-Tompkins (MM ’95, HonDMA ’17), an MSM faculty member, was featured on WQXR on August 21 performing Lili Boulanger. Watch here.
Judith Insell (BM ’92, MM ’93) previously served as Bronx Art Ensemble (BAE)’s Director of Curriculum and Artist Development. In the role of Artistic Director, Judith will oversee BAE’s artistic programs in Bronx public schools and onstage. “I am thrilled to be amplifying my level of service to the borough where I was born and raised; the borough that first exposed me to the arts in an educational setting. I look forward to continuing my support of the communities of the Bronx by spearheading the artistic vision of BAE’s Arts Education Programs & Concerts,” said Insell. Visit the Bronx Arts Ensemble’s website to learn more.
Jeffrey Jamner (DMA ’96) designed and performed in an educational lecture-recital connecting music and the Holocaust, called Juliek’s Violin. It was filmed by Kentucky Educational Television (KET) in front of a live student audience at the Kentucky Center for the Arts and is now available to see online (in three parts) on PBS Learning Media. The link to the first part is here.
Kelly Kuo (MM ’98) made his Seattle Opera conducting debut leading a production of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird by Daniel Schnyder in February 2020, making Kelly one of the first Asian conductors to lead a mainstage production for the company.
Carl MaultsBy (MM ’90) presented Playing Afro-Centric Hymnody on the Pipe Organ (watch here) for the July 2020 maiden voyage of The Hymn Society’s Organ Initiative. Earlier in May 2020, he played the premiere of his organ composition Toccata on Fire Deep Down in My Bones as the postlude in “Evensong for the Day of Pentecost” at the St. Richard’s Episcopal Church in Winter Park, Florida. To listen, visit here.
Anthony J. Mazzocchi (BM ’95, MM ’97) is the new director of the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. “I am honored and humbled to accept the Directorship of the Cali School of Music – an institution that I love so very much and full of people whom I love, as well,” Mazzocchi told the Cali School community in an email message. “We all share a great passion for this place; its past, its current state, and especially what we all believe could be its bright and rewarding future. It is also clear that we are all ready to play our own unique part in moving the Cali School forward together, and that excites me beyond measure.” Most recently, he has served as the associate director of the Cali School as well as the executive director of the Kinhaven Summer Music School in Weston, Vermont. Read the full press release here.
Lori Brown Maribal (MM ’94) performed her play with music, Charmed Life: From Soul Singing to Opera Star, at Urban Stages Theatre March 12–29, 2020. Directed by Vincent Scott, Charmed Life takes you on a musical journey from Mirabal’s hometown of Nashville, to opera stages across the world. She toasts entertainment luminaries, including Oprah, Cab Calloway, and Pavarotti, that had a hand in her rise and salutes the black opera singers that paved the way. With comedy, storytelling, and show-stopping musical numbers, Mirabal brings you inside the world of opera and her efforts to spread the art form to the next generation. More info at Urban Stages website.
Alumni power couple Jason Moran (BM ’97) and Alicia Hall Moran (BM ’00) received a very favorable review from The Atlantic for their sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall this past March entitled “Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration”. The concert was designed by the Morans to explore the songs and sounds that accompanied black lives throughout the Great Migration. “The Morans are devoted to elevating voices that have not often been heard, and to articulating connections between the highest levels of black society and the lowest. “Two Wings,” which spans nearly three hours, featured performances from some of the leading voices in gospel, jazz, folk, and Western classical music; for the Morans, it was an opportunity to put a version of the black American musical canon into venues that, even today, seldom make space for its full breadth.”
Jeff Scott (BM ’90) has been appointed to the Oberlin Conservatory’s Brass Faculty beginning in 2020. “Jeff is extraordinary not only in the depth of his accomplishments—particularly as a performer and teacher—but also in the sheer breadth of his skills, and his unparalleled versatility as a musician,” says Dean of the Conservatory William Quillen. Read Oberlin’s announcement of Jeff’s appointment here.
Diana Solomon-Glover (MM ’90) and composer Chandler Carter were commissioned by Opera for All Voices, a consortium of American opera companies headed by Santa Fe Opera, to write This Little Light of Mine. The opera, which dramatizes the contributions of civil rights activist and icon Fannie Lou Hamer, will premiere in 2021.
Craig Terry (’99) is a 2020 Grammy Award winner for his work on opera star Joyce Didonato’s album Songplay.
Ankush Kumar Bahl (MM ’03) made his New York Philharmonic conducting debut in 2020 during Fun at the Phil: Sleepover at the Museum, a special concert for families with children.
Fleur Barron (MM ’07) sang on a program of Beethoven and Mahler at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center that also featured bass-baritone Eric Owens and pianist Julius Drake. More info here.
Amanda Blaikie (PS ’09) was interviewed by Noa Kageyama, Ph.D for Bulletproof Musician as a part of their “What Audition Preparation Strategies Work Best for You?” series. In the episode, which can be found here, Amanda talks about “believing in yourself, letting Go of attachments, and giving yourself permission to be kind to yourself”. Flutist Amanda Blaikie has been a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since 2016, and is also on the faculty at Oakland University.
Laura Bohn (MM ’08) made her Benaroya Hall solo debut on January 11, 2020 with ROCCA (Romanian American Chamber Concerts and Arts) and members of the Seattle Symphony.
J’Nai Bridges (BM ’09) made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2020 as Nefertiti in Philip Glass’ Akhnaten, which was broadcast on PBS.
Chihyu Chiang (MM ’03) has started her own company to teach people how to make delicious healthy food at home easily. Her blog is here.
Gerald Clayton (BM ’05) was appointed Artistic Director and conductor of the Monterey Jazz Festival “Next Generation Jazz Orchestra” in February 2020. Clayton first appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2000 and 2001 as a member of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Vocal Ensemble which won the High School Vocal Division at the Next Generation Jazz Festival. Clayton attended both USC Thornton and the Manhattan School of Music, and in 2006, he received the second place prize in the Thelonious Monk Institute Piano Competition. For more information on Clayton and his appointment, click here.
Anna Clyne (MM ’05) has written a cello concerto, entitled DANCE, that was included in the NPR Music’s 25 Favorite Songs Of 2020 (So Far). NPR writes: “Anna Clyne has written perhaps her most ambitious and appealing work so far. It’s hard to resist the gorgeous opening of DANCE, her new cello concerto performed with singular commitment by cellist Inbal Segev and conductor Marin Alsop … [Clyne is] fearless in filling the concerto with melodies of undisguised beauty … All linger in the ear, begging to be heard again.”
Anthony Roth Costanzo (MM ’08) was a featured performer on 𝗪𝗤𝗫𝗥’s Second Annual Pride show celebrating the 𝗟𝗚𝗕𝗧𝗤+ community on June 18, 2020. Anthony Roth Costanzo (MM ’08) was a featured performer on 𝗪𝗤𝗫𝗥’s Second Annual Pride show celebrating the 𝗟𝗚𝗕𝗧𝗤+ community on June 18, 2020. Costanzo has partnered with the New York Philharmonic to bring music all around NYC via the “Bandwagon” project that he conceived.
Brenda Earle Stokes (MM ’04) debuted “The Motherhood Project,” a collection of songs Brenda composed about her experiences as a mother, on January 26, 2020, at Rockwood Music Hall. The project features Brenda on piano/vocals/compositions along with musicians including MSM faculty member and fellow mom Ingrid Jensen. More info here.
Rachel Easterwood (BM ’06), who is now an I.C.U. doctor at New York Presbyterian Hospital, reached out to her fellow alumni Andrew Janss (BM ’06, AD ’12) and Molly Carr (’07), who serve as co-directors of the non-profit Project: Music Heals Us. Easterwood, Janss, Carr and pianist Anna Petrova (BM ’08, MM ’11, DMA ’16) are all featured in this story by The New York Times about the initiative. Dr. Easterwood said that she hoped to continue the performances for patients and the staff. “We go into this profession to help people,” she said. “And this music had the ability to at least help a little bit.” To support Project: Music Heals Us, please visit projectmusichealsus.com.
Stanford Felix (MM ’01) released his new book on vocal technique on November 15, 2020. “Beautiful Singing: A Singer’s Guide to Improving the Voice” (beautifulsinging.org) offers a fresh approach to bel canto technique and addresses the physical, mental, and aesthetic elements of singing in a style designed for vocal teachers and students of all levels. Dr. Felix is the founder and former executive director of Kansas Concert Opera and Minnesota Concert Opera, and teaches out of his voice studio in Minneapolis-St.Paul, MN.
Rolando Garza Rodríguez (MM ’02) has won the position of Studienleiter and Casting Adviser at Germany’s Theater Bremen, having previously been head of music at Luzerner Theater and Theater für Niedersachsen, and before that the Music Director of the Young Artist Program OperAvenir at Theater Basel.
Kirill Gerstein (BM ’99, MM ’00) performs works by Chopin, Adès, Liszt, and Gershwin on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. Watch the video here. NPR’s Tom Huizenga writes,”Even if we had handed him a pint-sized instrument, I’m sure Gerstein could make it sing. Just listen to how Chopin’s lyrical melodies, built from rippling notes and flamboyant runs, flow like a song without words in Gerstein’s agile hands.” Learn more about the Russian-American pianist on his website.
Devin Gray (MM ’08) wrote an article entitled “Musicianship for Drummers: How To Practice Along With Recordings” that has been published in the March 2020 edition of DownBeat Magazine. You can read the article here on pages 102 and 103.
Suzanne Kantorski (’09) performed the role of Franca in December 2019 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago alongside Renee Fleming in The Light in the Piazza.
Geoffrey Kiorpes (MM ’02, DMA ’07), having co-founded New York City Charter School of the Arts in 2016, has been busy teaching piano to all incoming students, and advanced classes to the older kids. In addition, he serves as Artistic Director, managing a diverse team of 11 teaching artists in various disciplines. This summer, City School of the Arts ran a successful Keyboards for Kids campaign, to ensure that every student who needed a piano has access.
JoAnn Lamolino (MM ’02) received tenure as Associate Principal/Second Trumpet of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra in Honolulu. JoAnn is also a member of the Honolulu Brass Quintet, performing recitals and education outreach concerts throughout the Hawaiian Island chain.
Remy Le Boeuf (MM ’09) was featured in Downbeat Magazine on February 6, 2020, profiling the artist and his recent big band album Assembly Of Shadows. Le Boeuf remarked, “I molded and shaped the story over the past couple of years,” on the topic of his recent release. ”I wanted it to be flexible, something that could maybe be turned into a ballet.” The artist has fulfilled commissions from the BMI Foundation, SFJAZZ, the New York Youth Symphony, and vocalist Sachal Vasandani. To learn more about Le Boeuf, read the full article.
Jacám Manricks (DMA ’07) marks his arrival as a full-fledged auteur on Samadhi, released on his own Manricks Music Records. Already an accomplished composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and improviser, Manricks’s sixth album adds recording, engineering, producing, and mixing to his skill set.
Carrie-Ann Matheson (PS ’00) will begin her new position with the San Francisco Opera Center in January 2021. She is currently a conductor, pianist and coach with the Zurich Opera where she has been since 2014. Prior to that she was on music staff at the Metropolitan Opera for some eleven years after her training in the Lindemann Young Artist program there. “This is a very exciting day for San Francisco Opera, and I am thrilled about (this appointment),” says Matthew Shilvock, General Director of the San Francisco Opera.
Ronnita Miller (MM ’03) performs Randy Newman’s I Think It’s Going to Rain Today in Cincinnati Opera’s Apartment Arias series. You can watch the moving performance here. Miller was slated to perform the role of Amneris this summer in Cincinnati Opera’s production of Aida, but the performances were cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more about Ronnita Miller here.
Alumni power couple Alicia Hall Moran (BM ’00) and Jason Moran (BM ’97) received a very favorable review from The Atlantic for their sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall this past March entitled “Two Wings: The Music of Black America in Migration”. The concert was designed by the Morans to explore the songs and sounds that accompanied black lives throughout the Great Migration. “The Morans are devoted to elevating voices that have not often been heard, and to articulating connections between the highest levels of black society and the lowest. “Two Wings,” which spans nearly three hours, featured performances from some of the leading voices in gospel, jazz, folk, and Western classical music; for the Morans, it was an opportunity to put a version of the black American musical canon into venues that, even today, seldom make space for its full breadth.”
Conor Nelson (BM ’03) has been appointed to the faculty of the Mead Witter School of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as Assistant Professor of Flute. Nelson will also serve as flutist of the Wingra Wind Quintet. He leaves a position at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Whirlwind Recordings announced the June 12, 2020 release of Lagos Pepper Soup, the new album from Michael Olatuja (MM ’06). On his third release as a bandleader, Olatuja presents his spectacular blend of West African Afrobeats and jazz, with the support of a string orchestra — arranged by iconic film score orchestrator Dave Metzger — alongside an international all-star cast which features Regina Carter (MSM Faculty), Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, Brandee Younger, Lionel Loueke, Joe Lovano, Laura Mvula, Gregoire Maret and Becca Stevens. Read the full press release on Bass Musician magazine’s website here.
Aaron Parks (BM ’02) is a Fellow at the 2020 Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Lab in collaboration with Skywalker Sound and supported by Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). Sundance Institute and Skywalker Sound today announced the composers and directors selected for the Film Music and Sound Design Lab, reimagined and expressed digitally this year on Sundance Co//ab. The Lab provides Fellows with firsthand experience of the collaborative process with the goal of nurturing the development of music in film. Read the full press release here.
Charlie Porter (BM ’08) is a 2020 Grammy Award winner for his work as pianist on opera star Joyce Didonato’s album Songplay.
Maria-Teresa Sepulveda (MM ’02, PS ’03) has been appointed Director of the Music Conservatory from Universidad Mayor in Santiago, Chile.
Damien Sneed (’06) has been appointed an artist-in-residence at Michigan State University. According to a press release, Sneed will work with Wharton Center and MSU’s College of Music, helping to bring social impact programming to both institutions. “I’m excited about returning to Michigan State University and the Wharton Center,” said Sneed. “We will be able to touch the lives of so many different people through the lyrics and messages in the music.” Sneed was also selected as one of BET’s “Future 40,” which highlights a new generation of inspiring leaders and changemakers across entertainment, activism, sports and more. “As a pianist, vocalist and composer, Sneed’s resume is lengthy as an emerging Black leader in classical music,” writes BET. You can watch the video feature here.
Lecolion Washington (MM ’01) was appointed Executive Director of the Community Music Center of Boston.
Miguel Zenón (MM ’01) — saxophonist, composer, and jazz faculty member — has been named as a 2020 Artist-in-Residence at Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. Miguel will spend the next year collaborating with scientists at the Institute in an endeavor that immerses artists in the cutting-edge field of neuroscience. “My goals for this residency are two-fold: I am excited to learn from neuroscience’s best minds about how the brain innovates, how it creates something from nothing, such as a rhythmic pattern or a melodic line,” said Miguel. “I am also eager for this opportunity to connect with musically-minded youth in nearby Harlem and the Bronx — as well as Washington Heights, where I call home — and explore together the shared wonder of music and science.” Read the full press release here.
Andy Zimmerman (MM ’04) won a 2020 Music Academy of the West Alumni Enterprise Award of $20,000.
Darnell Abraham (MM ’13) was featured on the Bay Area’s CBSN to discuss his role as George Washington in Hamilton San Francisco and what it means to him—as well as where to score the hottest tickets in town. To watch the full interview with Abraham, visit the SF-CBSN website. (He is picture above, left, with Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.)
Anthony Barfield (MM ’10) was commissioned to write a 15-piece brass ensemble work that was recently premiered and filmed on the Lincoln Center campus. “Invictus” (or “unconquered”) pays tribute to the resilience of New York and its people, “reflecting hope and the anticipation of a better future on the horizon.” Weaving together elements of classical, gospel, jazz and hip hop, “Invictus” brings together brass players of different stylistic backgrounds from across Lincoln Center’s campus. You can read more about the piece in this Forbes article. The new piece premiered last week on Facebook and on Lincoln Center’s website, and is available on demand here.
Raehann Bryce-Davis (MM ’12, PS ’13) premiered a music video on August 25, 2020 that features her performance of “All’afflitto è dolce il pianto” (“To the Afflicted”) from Donizetti’s opera “Roberto Devereux.” Raehann writes: “I got my last paycheck five months ago, like many of us. I turned away in horror yesterday as the gunshots reverberated yet again, like many of us. ‘To the Afflicted’ is a solemn remembrance, a celebration, a clenched fist around the reigns of destiny, an open hand raised in praise. I dedicate this to the afflicted, those in opera and those fighting on the front lines for justice and equity.” Watch the video here.
Jeremy Chan (MM ’16) announces the release of a new EP featuring thee music of Grieg, Mahler and Bolcom titled Still. Chan releases the EP in collaboration with Mezzo Soprano Kristin Gornstein in an album of romantic love songs that invites listeners to sit and be still. “As a freelance pianist whose career up until now has mostly relied on live gigs, the cancellation of the 2020-21 concert season and being under quarantine inspired me to think of new ways to continue making music. The quarantine experience has allowed me to reflect on the themes of these songs with a renewed appreciation”, says Jeremy, “I hope this album can be a kind of musical balm for listeners given this time of uncertainty.” To listen to the album, visit here.
Dominic Cheli (BM ’14) is one of the five pianists chosen as finalists in the American Pianists Association’s Piano Competition. The Association behind the awards decided to grant each of the five finalists a cash prize of $50,000 now, rather than wait for the winner to be crowned in June 2021. The organization sees the need for these artists to receive assistance now since they aren’t currently performing due to COVID. You can watch Dominic Cheli’s performance on the APA Facebook page.
Josu De Solaun (DMA ’11) is the Artistic Director of the new Musical Arts Madrid, announced in The Strad.
Noragh Devlin (BM ’13, MM ’15, PS ’16) has been selected as Young Artists for the prestigious Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY. While the COVID-19 pandemic will not permit them to perform their anticipated roles during the 2020 Festival, they will be working with the Festival throughout the summer in new virtual ways.
Angelo Di Loreto (MM ’13) was named recipient of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) 2020 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. The program was established in 2002 to encourage young gifted jazz composers up to the age of 30.
Gabriel Escudero (DMA ’13) has joined the Piano faculty at the new Musical Arts Madrid, announced in The Strad.
Miho Hazama (MM ’12) is featured in the New York City Jazz Record’s February issue. The Artist Feature, written by Michael Cobb, is available to read online here. You can listen to her latest release, Dancer in Nowhere, on her website.
The Voice UK coach Meghan Trainor selected classical voice alumna Claudillea Holloway (BM ’17) to move on to the next round of the reality competition. Each Voice coach has selected ten singers from the blind auditions to battle against each other for audience votes beginning this Saturday, February 22nd on ITV. You can view her unique performance of Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” aria during the blind auditions on YouTube.
Frank L. Humphrey III (BM ’17) was cast as Papa Ge in 54 Below’s concert presentation of Once On This Island. The production was postponed due to the pandemic and is scheduled for November 12.
Beomjae Kim (AD ’17) is featured in the Winter 2019 issue of Symphony distributed by the League of American Orchestras. In the article called “Pathfinders” by Vivien Schweitzer, Kim was one of six emerging artists to discuss their visions for the classical music world, to which the MSM flautist described his main goal as a musician “is to tell a story and not just play an instrument.” For more inspiring words and the full article, click here.
Coreisa Lee (BM ’17), who graduated from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) with her Master’s in music performance after MSM, shares her journey in this interview with the institution. This Fall, the flutist Lee will pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at West Virginia University this fall, where she earned a provost fellowship.
Minhae Lee (PS ’14) has been selected as a collaborative piano fellow (the only candidate chosen) at Yale School of Music.
Sarah Markle (MM ’13), a cellist in the Charlotte Symphony, has created a video featuring Coruss synthetic bow hair. The video consists of a performance of a Joplin rag arrangement for cello/piano, followed by a brief interview highlighting why synthetic bow hair is important to me as a vegan/environmentalist as well as a professional musician.
Jana McIntyre (MM ’16) was awarded a $10,000 top prize of the 49th annual George London Foundation Awards Competition for young American and Canadian opera singers. For more information, visit the article.
Brian Morales (MM ’17) was commissioned by the Peace Studio to write Smoking Lounge at the End of the World for “100 Offerings of Peace.” The virtual campaign is “bringing together both known and emerging creatives in visual, performing, literary, spiritual, and musical arts to generate new works about what peace means to them, how they practice it, and where they see it could rise up and flourish amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the impassioned protests over centuries old racial injustices and inequalities occurring across many continents. The 100 Offerings, from 20 countries, are intended to foster relationships and healing, ultimately moving toward a more peaceful world.” Morales’s composition was broadcast on September 2 and is available for viewing here.
Raphael Pannier (MM ’17) jazz drummer and leader. releases his first album “Faune”. Praised as “an imaginative colorist” and “a force in Jazz”, Pannier produced this album with MSM alum and 6x Grammy nominated Miguel Zenon, and performs with Aaron Goldberg, Francois Moutin, and MSM Alum Giorgi Mikadze (MM ’16). The album was elected in the 2020 NPR polls for the “Best Debut” Category, made it to the Slate “10 Best Jazz Albums of 2020”, and received 5/5 stars in the BBC Music Mag. Video here.
Ezra Potash (’16) and his twin brother Adeev host the new original series, Takeout Twins, on the Food Network Kitchen app. In the series, the twin brothers show viewers how to make budget-friendly versions of classic take-out dishes at home. “Food is fun, but food with friends is better,” said Ezra and Adeev Potash. “It’s been a blast spending our quarantine teaching our friends how to build their skills in the Food Network Kitchen and help them thrive in this unsettling time.” Download the Food Network Kitchen app here to stream the show.
Andrew Rathbun (DMA ’11), jazz saxophonist, has recently released two CD projects: Impressions of Debussy and Northern Noir. The first CD, released on the Centaur Records label, is a collection of improvisations that reimagine Debussy’s Preludes for piano. The second project, released by SteepleChase, is a duo project with Ran Blake that delves into his universe of film noir, plus versions of standards and Thelonious Monk.
Georgina Rossi (BM ’15), violist, and Silvie Cheng (BM ’13, MM ’15), pianist, released ‘Mobili’, an overview of Chilean repertoire featuring viola on the label New Focus Recordings, founded by Dan Lippel (DMA ’06). Chronicling five decades of Chilean music including five world-premiere recordings, the recording highlights the rich tapestry of influences that have shaped Chilean concert music, from European high modernism to Indigenous music of the Andean region. The collection is given added weight by the passing of Juan Orrego-Salas, the composer of the title work, sixteen days prior to the first recording session. Rossi and Cheng have dedicated the album to his memory, a fitting homage to a man who was a lifelong ambassador for Chilean music in the United States.
Christian Sands (BM ’11, MM ’15) as piano Artist-in-Residence for the 63rd Monterey Jazz Festival in 2020. To read more about Sands and his recent accolades, visit the full article.
Eitan Silkoff (undergraduate, 2009–11) — see In Memoriam section.
Kyle Werner (MM ’11, DMA ’14) has had his composition for solo guitar, Cyclades, performed by fellow alumnus and guitarist Jordan Dodson (MM ’11) as part of the Works & Process Artist (WPA) project at the Guggenheim. Choreographer Silas Farley chose the first movement of Kyle’s work for the new virtual commission. More here.
Samuel White (PS ’18) was selected as Young Artists for the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY. While the COVID-19 pandemic will not permit them to perform their anticipated roles during the 2020 Festival, they worked with the Festival throughout the summer in new virtual ways.
Sean Alexander (BM ’20, MM ’22) talks about how he’s finding inspiration during the pandemic with KCLU’s Lance Orozco in this interview which aired earlier this month. Sean has been working on a unique original arrangement of a song, a version of Merry Go Round of Life, the theme from Howl’s Moving Castle. You can listen to his arrangement here.
Paco Andreo (MM ’20) won the Hungarian Trombone Camp 2020 online competition. You can view his award-winning performance on the Hungarian Trombone Camp’s YouTube channel here.
Morgan Davison (BM ’19) was featured in The New Yorker about her Instagram practice account. Read the article here.
I-Jung Huang (PS ’20, Orchestral Violin) won a section violin audition at the New York Philharmonic.
Rico Jones (BM ’20) is a 2020 winner of the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program (YYPA).
Tereza Lee (BM ’05, MM ’07, PS ’10, DMA ’20), who inspired the original DREAM Act nearly twenty years ago, is featured in Part 3 of Asian Americans, a new documentary series airing on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). You can view the episode here, with Tereza’s story beginning at the 38:17 mark.
Eli Pandolfi (BM ’20) won a 2020 French horn fellowship position with the New World Symphony in Miami.
Pinghua Felix Ren (MM ’19 and PS ’20) won the Assistant Principal Bassoon position of the Hartford Symphony announced February 2020.
Rin Seo (MM ’20) was named recipient of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) 2020 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. The program was established in 2002 to encourage young gifted jazz composers up to the age of 30.
Santosh Sharma (BM ’20) and his twin brother Ravi have been featured in the Seattle Times for their popular front porch jazz concerts. The two young musicians began performing for their neighbors after leaving NYC in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. “We just got tired of sitting in our house and playing by ourselves,” said Santosh. “So we decided we might as well go outside and play if we can safely do that.” Read the full article here.
Yuting Zhou (MM ’16, DMA ’20) placed second in the 2020 American Prize in Piano Performance (solo, professional division). More info here.
We honor the memory of alumni, former faculty, and staff members who have passed away in 2019 and 2020:
(PD ’63, Conducting)
February 11, 1934 – March 25, 2019
Luis O. Biava was a violinist, a conductor, a teacher and a loving father and husband. His legacy will live on in his recordings and the performances of thousands of students that he taught all over the world. After Luis attended MSM and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, he joined the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington D.C. He served as principal second violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra and made his conducting debut with the orchestra in 1990. Luis then served as acting assistant conductor and was conductor-in-residence from 1994 to 2004. He also became artistic director and conductor of the Temple University Symphony Orchestra and music director of Temple Music Preparatory Division’s Youth Chamber Orchestra. ‘“He had a remarkable ability to bring out the best in everyone, musically and otherwise,” said Temple emeritus faculty member Richard C. Brodhead. “He really became a revered and beloved figure in the college.”’ ‘As a violinist, Mr. Biava’s “contributions and leadership were substantial,” said retired orchestra violinist Larry Grika. “Luis’ beautiful singing sound always was illuminated with enthusiasm and fervor.”’ Read more about Luis here.
(MM ’76, Voice)
June 24, 1952 – May 30, 2020
Lynda’s fellow alumnus Michael Davis (MM ’76) wrote the following: “Lynda L. Ciolek died of natural causes in her New York home on May 30, 2020, three weeks shy of her 68th birthday. She had been in declining health. An only child, she was born and raised in Chicago. Lynda brought her ample mezzo-soprano to MSM in 1974 after getting her undergraduate degree at Indiana University. At MSM she studied voice with Ellen Faull and coached opera with then-MSM President George Schick. In 1976 she was memorable as the gossipy Mrs. Jones in the historic MSM production of Street Scene, conducted by Maestro Anton Coppola (MSM ’63), who died in March. Because of health considerations, Lynda curtailed her singing career in the 1970s and founded STEORRA Enterprises, the Public Relations/Advertising Consulting firm that she led for more than 40 years until her death. Her clients included the Cassatt Quartet and the late Jean Redpath. Lynda was the most devoted and incisive friend, blessed with integrity and moral rectitude in her personal and professional life. She brought radiant light into the world.”
(BM ’57, MM ’58, Percussion)
1928 – April 5, 2019
Jack Jennings was born in Youngstown, Ohio and later moved to Brooklyn, NY and attended the Manhattan School of Music for his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in percussion performance. Jack had a very successful and varied career as a percussionist. He worked as a studio-recording percussionist in New York City and Los Angeles, appearing on a range of TV shows, movie soundtracks, and commercial jingles. Jennings performed with many famous musicians throughout his career including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, and many more. Additionally, he toured the U.S. and Canada with Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. and played for many years in the Broadway musical Cats. Jack later settled in Norwood, New Jersey and was a longtime member of the Immaculate Conception Church and St. Anthony’s Church, serving as co-choir director of the adult and youth choirs with his wife, Jayne. His family was the greatest joy of his life and he and his wife celebrated a marriage of 58 years and five children. Read more about Jack here.
Ada Kopetz Korf
(Former MSM Faculty)
April 27, 1919 – January 13, 2020
Ada Kopetz Korf was an international concert artist who performed as a soloist, accompanist and in chamber music concerts. Giving performances, master classes and as a respected adjudicator took Ada to Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and throughout North America. She was a faculty member of Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University and held B.S. and M.A. degrees from Teachers College. She was a fellowship graduate of The Julliard School, where she taught piano. Ms. Kopetz Korf played for Albert Spalding, Michel Piastro, Louis Persinger, Ruggiero Ricci, and was a winner of the Martha Baird Rockefeller Grant for Performing and Teaching. She was the official pianist with the Symphony of the Air under Stowkowski, Villa- Lobos, Metropolis, Pelletier, Halasz and Wallenstein. She appeared regularly as the soloist for Radio City Music Hall. As a member of the Philharmonic Piano Quartet, under Columbia Artists Management, she toured throughout the United States and Canada, recorded for Columbia Records and made many TV, radio and symphonic appearances. Ms. Kopetz Korf resided in New York City teaching privately and serving passionately on the Board of Directors of both the Musicians Club of New York and The Bohemians, championing individual artists and especially educating young children. In addition to classical performers, she taught many well-known jazz artists, which brought her great joy. On May 5, 2019, she was named the first Honorary Life Member of the Musicians Club of New York at the age of 100. More about Ada here.
(MSM Voice Faculty)
January 28, 1933 – June 23, 2019 The MSM Community lost one of its own — a remarkable artist and wonderful human being — in longtime Voice faculty member Spiro Malas. Spiro joined the Voice faculty in 1988 and leaves a legacy, having taught three decades of MSM students, developing both their musical and artistic talents as well as moving them towards a deeper understanding of themselves and their potential. Spiro also gave of himself as an artist during his years at MSM; he was a guest artist with the MSM Opera Theatre, singing the role of Falstaff in MSM’s production of Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor (pictured above). Among his many other accomplishments as a performer (Met Opera, Covent Garden, Chicago Lyric, New York City Opera), in 1992, Spiro won accolades and a Drama Desk Award nomination for his Broadway portrayal of Tony Esposito, the title character in The Most Happy Fella. Reviewing the revival for The New York Times, Frank Rich wrote that, “As acted by Mr. Malas, Tony’s inner growth and redemption become the very soul of musical drama, especially as delineated in one gorgeous Loesser song after another.” The italics are MSMs, and they help communicate what was so special about Spiro as both performer and teacher. He felt the presence of that “soul” and allowed others – audience members and students alike – to feel it for themselves. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Spiro’s loving wife, Marlena Malas, herself a member of MSM’s Voice faculty (since 1982), and to his immediate and extended family. We know that Spiro’s long, rich, accomplished life and the many wonderful memories it inspires will be a source of comfort and joy in the days and years ahead. Click here to read a tribute to this wonderful artist from Opera News.
Esther Elizabeth McCready
(BM 1966, MM 1970, Voice)
January 10, 1931 – September 2, 2020
Prior to attending MSM, McCready made history in 1950 when she became the first African-American to be admitted to the University of Maryland School of Nursing after a legal battle led by Thurgood Marshall. The resulting case helped lay the groundwork for the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. McCready’s nursing career included positions at Baltimore’s Druid Health Center, Morgan State University as Head Nurse, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center as head post-operative room nurse, Harlem Hospital’s Emergency Room, and at New York University. Her career also included years as a general education teacher in public school in New York, after earning a degree in elementary education from Hunter College. McCready sang in the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess and was a member of an ensemble of opera singers who toured the United States and Europe with the Metropolitan Opera diva Grace Bumbry.
Donald “Donal” Nold
August 11, 1928 – August 17, 2019
Donald, known as Donal to many, was a world-renowned pianist, vocal coach, and educator. He began playing piano at a young age, and went on to earn a Master of Science at The Juilliard School. Donald’s international career commenced with his European solo debut at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. He toured the world with highly acclaimed singers and instrumentalists, including Martina Arroyo, Grace Bumbry, Maureen Forrester, Graziella Sciutti, Justino Diaz, Michael Rabin, Tossy Spivakovsky, and Gloria Davy. After living in Europe for a decade, Donald returned to the US to serve on the music faculties of various schools, including Juilliard, his alma mater. From 1964-1994 he was on faculty at the school where he would play the most formative role, not only in the lives of his students, but in the history of the school itself; Manhattan School of Music. “I was one of Donal’s students, and I can confidently say he was the best teacher I ever had, at MSM and elsewhere,” said June Marano-Murray, an MSM alumna. For thirty years Donald was a member of the MSM faculty in the Opera, Vocal Literature, Music History, Ensemble, and Accompanying Departments. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment at the School came in 1970, when he contributed to the foundation of the Accompanying Department, which he chaired from 1980 until his retirement in 1994.
(BM ’54, MM ’55, Trombone)
December 31, 1932 – June 28, 2020
Ricketts was a long-time member of the Minnesota Orchestra, serving as second trombonist from 1960–1995. He also played bass trombone and baritone horn; notable baritone solos included Mahler Symphony No. 7, first movement, “Bydlo” from Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and Mars from Holst’s The Planets. He also played with the Minnesota Brass Quintet, and was a proud member of the American Federation of Musicians. Prior to Minnesota Orchestra, Ron played in the Asbury Park Band, where he met his late wife Shirley Cohen; the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Orchestra (US tour), Dallas Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (on tour), St. Paul Opera, Minnesota Opera, and many others. Ron was an avid nature lover and bird-watcher, walker, long-distance bicyclist, and reader. More info here.
(Undergraduate studies, 2009–11, Violin)
Eitan’s passing was first announced on August 20, 2020, but the circumstances of his death and the date are not known at the time of this publication.
Stephen Timothy Stalker
(BM ’66, MM ’70, Cello)
May 18, 1943 – September 6, 2019
Stephen Stalker was passionate about music performance and education throughout his life. He taught at the Interlochen Center for the Arts then was principal cellist of the Oklahoma Symphony before moving to Binghamton in the mid-1970’s to join the string quartet residency program at Harper College. Over the years he taught at Binghamton University, Colgate University, Mansfield University, Ithaca College, Binghamton City Schools, and Broome Community College. He also maintained an active private teaching studio with students of all ages. He performed regularly with symphony orchestras and ensembles throughout the region, including the Prometheus Ensemble, the Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble, and the Catskill Chamber Players. He was an officer and a founder of the Binghamton Cello Festival and the Southern Tier Music Teachers Association. Stephen also served as Strings Chair for the New York State School Music Association and as President of the New York State Chapter of the American String Teachers Association. In addition to his passion for teaching and performing, Steve loved to travel. He enjoyed experiencing and learning about new foods, artwork, and cultures, and loved spending time with his family and grandchildren. More about Stephen here.
(BM ’76, Voice)
December 19, 1953 – January 29, 2019
The beloved American baritone Sanford Sylvan performed with the world’s leading orchestras under such conductors as Pierre Boulez, Herbert Blohmstedt, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Christopher Hogwood, James Levine, Roger Norrington, Simon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. In opera, Sanford worked with directors Peter Sellars, Robert Wilson, Sir Peter Hall, John Copley, Tim Alberry, and many others at companies including Glyndebourne, New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, and at the La Monnaie theater in Brussels. His portrayals of Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro and Alfonso in Così fan tutte had been seen on PBS’s Great Performances and are recorded on DVD for Decca. Sanford recorded the title role in John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, also on Decca. He sang the role of Chou-En Lai for the premiere of Adams’s Nixon in China which received a Grammy and an Emmy. With pianist David Breitman, Sanford had performed numerous recitals worldwide. Two of their three recordings on the Nonesuch label received best classical vocal performance Grammy nominations. In 2011, he was nominated again in the same category for his performance of Wilde: A Symphony by Charles Fussell. Sanford was on the voice faculty at The Juilliard School and Bard Conservatory and had previously been on the faculty of McGill University in Montreal. Read more on Juilliard’s in memoriam page here. ‘”Not only was he a professional singer,” said Sylvan’s sister Gwen, “as a teacher of voice, he allowed his students to emerge, to really find their own voices. I look at his life as such a full, total life. It’s extraordinary in terms of his gift as singer – his voice was absolutely healing. But his teaching, in the latter part of his lifetime — he was so devoted to his students, and they were to him.”‘ – from NPR’s Sanford Sylvan, A Baritone On His Own Terms, Dies At 65
(BM ’97, Voice)
October 26, 1967 – May 4, 2019
Allegra was immersed in music from her birth. She was named after the musical term for “lively” by her parents, who were professional musicians. Following her graduation from Ridgefield High School in CT, she pursued a performance degree in classical voice as a coloratura soprano and began a life-long passion of organizing and performed in concerts for a range of charities and events. After Alzheimer’s Disease struck her mother, Allegra became interested in the healing power of music. She attended Leslie College in Cambridge, MA; earned a Masters in Expressive Therapies; and became a Board Certified Music Therapist. Allegra worked in several clinics in the New York City area, ran her own private practice, and earned certifications as a Diplomat Psychotherapist and a Certified Reiki Practitioner. Allegra also served as a Board member at the American Music Therapy Associated for the New England Region, and was a member of the adjunct faculty at the New School in New York City. Allegra is also the author of Life in the Key of Allegra: A Personal and Professional Journey with the Healing Powers of Music, an extraordinary memoir that spans the decades of her growth as a young girl to a mental health professional. More about Allegra here.
Frank J. Timari
(BM ’70; MM ’71, Theory and Music Education)
July 17, 1948 – January 23, 2021
Frank had majored in Theory with a minor in Piano and Organ. He did graduate work in Music Education and earned his New York State Certification in Music and Supervision. One highlight was directing Handel’s Messiah with the Richmond Choral Society. He served as a middle school vocal music teacher in the New York City Public Schools (Brooklyn and Staten Island) for thirty-four years. The Middle school Chorus under his direction performed in Carnegie Hall. Frank was an Organist/Choir Director in many local churches in Staten Island and NJ, most recently at Stonehill Church of Princeton where he performed Handel’s Elijah with the Stonehill Choir. He was a loving husband to Roberta (Butler) for 47 years and proud father and grandfather to two children and six grandchildren. He wore his faith on his sleeve and everyone knew he was reliable and committed to honoring God and his family in life. In later years, in addition to travel abroad and regular exercise, he enjoyed bike riding, hiking, swimming, horseshoes and Pickle ball. His love of music and polished performance has been passed down to his family. He will be greatly missed.
Lawrence Elliott “Larry” Willis
(Undergraduate studies, ’61–64, Voice)
December 20, 1942 – September 29, 2019
Born in Harlem, New York into a music-loving family, Larry Willis spent his childhood aspiring to be a classical vocalist. During his final year at Music and Arts High School, Willis found himself interested in formally learning the piano. Later studying music theory at Manhattan School of Music with a growing passion for jazz, Willis was introduced to alto saxophonist Jackie McLean who, in 1962, invited him to join his band. From then on, Willis never went back to classical performance. Along the way, Larry Willis worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Clifford Jordan, Art Taylor, Art Blakey, Carmen McRae, and Shirley Horn. Willis, a Grammy-nominated jazz pianist, composer, and member of the jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears, created and released numerous albums spanning across multiple styles of music. He taught at the New School in New York and later at Florida Southern College. In the 90’s Willis settled in Washington D.C. as the music director of Mapleshade Records, working with drummer Paul Murphey recording five albums and, ultimately, developing a unique variety of avant-garde jazz. In September, Willis made his final recording with saxophonist Joe Ford, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, bassist Blake Meister, and drummer Victor Lewis. The recording’s release is forthcoming. More about Larry here.