Created with Sketch.

June 27, 2018

Alumni Stories: Paths Taken Part IV

Paths Taken: A Personal Tour Part IV

by Alumni Advisory Council Chair Louis Alexander (MM ’79)

Most people I discover and present here, surface through random searches in the Online Alumni Directory.

Featured in this installment of Paths Taken: A Personal Tour

  • Nancy Zipay DeSalvo (MM ’72)
  • Edward Bilous (BM ’79)
  • Lecolion Washington (MM ’01)
  • John-Morgan Bush (MM ’11)
  • Alissa Brodsky (MM ’95)

In this on-going series of articles, we get glimpses into the rich pathways that our fellow alumni have taken since leaving the School.

Alumni Advisory Council Vice-Chair, series author


Music is powerful, and in every culture there are stories attesting to its influence over us. Much has been written about music’s ability to calm the mind, inspire the soul, or heal the body. There seems to be little doubt about its power to deeply affect us. A story I once heard about Albert Schweitzer points this up. While listening to a recording of the Andante movement of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, he glanced out the window of his clinic in Lambaréné and saw that a crowd of villagers had gathered by his porch. They too had come under the spell of Beethoven and were listening in rapt silence to that haunting dialogue between orchestra and piano. There is not a one of us who cannot share the experience of those villagers in Lambaréné. Music is our dream space and the force that inspires us. Yet it does not come without challenges for those of us who follow its call. We share the experience of living in the tension between musical inspiration and its translation in the worlds we inhabit. In all of our lives, there is this dynamic between inspiration and realization.

  • Louis

Nancy Zipay DeSalvo

Educator, soloist, accompanying pianist, and chamber music collaborator

There is probably not a musician who does not have a story of that moment when music first took hold. For Nancy Zipay DeSalvo (MM ’72), that moment happened in the second grade when a piano in her school caught her eye and beckoned her to come closer. Having begun her musical journey in a classroom, perhaps it is only fitting that Nancy has spent the better part of her life in education inspiring others. She is Associate Professor at Westminster College, where she teaches piano and music history and has served as Chair of the Department of Music.

The classroom is not the only place she shares her music with others. Nancy leads an active performance life as a soloist, professional accompanying pianist, and chamber music collaborator. Currently a pianist with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, she has been a guest soloist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and with various university orchestras across the United States and Artist-in-Residence at the Bay View Music Festival in northern Michigan.

She has just recently released a recording of two new piano sonatas by Daniel Perttu and Jason Howard. Among her honors are two from the Cleveland Institute of Music: first prize for a performance with Jason Fuh of Four Claudel Poems in the Darius Milhaud Performance Auditions, and the Gwendolyn Koldofsky Award. Since 2002, Nancy has been a Steinway Artist.  To hear her in performance, check out her album Small Stones: Modern Piano Music.

Edward Bilous

Composer, artistic director, and educator

As vital as keeping music education alive and healthy is, so too is it essential to explore new musical avenues and to make an impact beyond the halls of academe. In this regard, Edward Bilous (MM ’79) comes to mind.

A year before he graduated from MSM, Edward was one of the first teaching-artists at the then newly created Lincoln Center Institute. Founding Director of the Center for Innovation in the Arts at Juilliard and Artistic Director for Virtua Creative, he has spent his life as a composer, artistic director, and educator. At Juilliard, Edward played a significant role in creating the basic canon of aesthetic education practices, which continues to inspire students and teachers around the world. He developed many of Juilliard’s most innovative programs and, in recognition of his lifelong contributions to arts education, was awarded the William Schuman Scholar’s Chair in 2012.

He is a leading advocate for the arts in education and has led discussions and workshops with business leaders, lawmakers, teachers, and administrators around the nation and in Europe and Asia. In his TEDx talk Nurturing Creative Intelligence Through Music, Edward eloquently describes his vision of the crucial role of music education.

Yet his creative influence does not stop there. Edward is a composer and music director with a long history of successful productions. Check out his web site to get a better sense of just how innovative he is.

Lecolion Washington

Bassoonist, educator, advocate of music as an agent for social change

Another dimension of the power of music is the large and lasting impact on societies it can have. Bassoonist Lecolion Washington (MM ’01) has been a staunch advocate of music as an agent for social change. In 2017 he became Executive Director of the Community Music Center of Boston, an organization that values the transformative power music has in our lives.

Before moving to Boston, Lecolion was a leading figure in Memphis, where he was Cofounder and Executive Director of the PRIZM Ensemble, an organization whose mission was to build a diverse community through chamber music education, youth development, and performance. Among PRIZM’s activities are community engagement and youth development programs such as the OMusic Project, a music program in Orange Mound, the first neighborhood in Memphis to be built by African Americans.

PRIZM is also active in the schools and established the PRIZM International Chamber Music Festival. Among his many educational pursuits, Lecolion served as the Director of In-School Programs for the Memphis Music Initiative, which sponsors teaching-artist programs at public, charter, and parochial schools throughout the city.

In addition to his efforts to bring creative approaches to music education, Lecolion maintains a busy schedule as a performer in solo recitals as well as in ensembles. He has held master classes at conservatories and universities such as the Eastman School of Music, University of Texas at Austin, Bruckner Conservatory, and the University of Cape Town to name only a few. As a member of the faculty of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival in South Africa, he was featured in many performances and taught master classes.

His performance and teaching career has also taken him to Canada and Brazil, as well as to cities across the U.S. A committed educator, Lecolion served as a bassoon professor over the course of 14 years at the University of Missouri and the University of Memphis, where he was tenured in 2008 at the age of 33. For a sense of Lecolion’s life as a performer, check out this excerpt from his CD Legacy: Music for Bassoon by African-American Composers.

John-Morgan Bush 

French horn performer, arts administrator, and educator

Maintaining classical music’s relevance in the 21st century is a challenge we all share. John-Morgan Bush (MM ’11) leads a busy life as a French horn performer, arts administrator, and educator. Currently Director of Learning and Leadership Programs at the League of American Orchestras, he provides innovative programming and resources for orchestras at the national level.

As a performer, he can be heard playing with orchestras as well as in solo and chamber music recitals. As an educator, he holds an adjunct faculty position at the New School in its innovative Arts Management and Entrepreneurship Program and has served as Executive Director of the String Project at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he has been a member of the music faculty for four years.

Also experienced in community engagement, he has served as a teaching artist in the Harmony Program at PS 129 in Harlem and as the Director of Education for the Little Orchestra Society, where he managed music education and community outreach. One of John-Morgan’s goals has been to redefine the role of artist-as-administrator.

In 2012, he founded Tuxedo Revolt—an arts consultancy and think-tank—to open up new ways to connect audiences today with live music. A part of this effort is his Tuxedo Revolt Blog, which is read by thousands worldwide. To get a better sense of John-Morgan’s work, visit his homepage and check out the Tuxedo Revolt.

Alissa Brodsky

Senior Director of Games at Defy Medi

Even for many of us whose professional lives have been outside of music, the sense of magic and power that music inspires in us has influenced our work. One such alumna is vocalist Alissa Brodsky (MM ’95), who is Senior Director of Games at Defy Media. Her focus is online and downloadable game development. From singer to game developer is definitely an interesting journey, and one that Alissa credits to her musical training.

In addition to performing as a singer, she has worked as a puppeteer (for both children and adults) and as a voiceover actor. It was precisely performing experiences such as these that gave her unique insights into visual storytelling and that fuel her passion to create a deep, engaging, and entertaining digital experience.

Alissa was senior producer with Disney’s Imagicademy when they launched their Digital Learning Department and lead producer of the video game Where’s My Perry? She also managed the development of the kids’ sports and entertainment site FunGoPlay, which was nominated for a Webby Award.

“In one way or another, all of us have been shaped by MSM, though the journeys that led us into MSM and then out into the world are as varied as we are. Many are the ways in which music works through us and casts its influence into the world!”

Alumni Advisory Council Vice Chair, series author

    Email This Page

    Email Message

    Page Reference
    (will be sent in email)