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November 22, 2021

Singular Talents Isabel Leonard and Myra Huang Join Manhattan School of Music’s Faculty

Myra Huang (left) and Isabel Leonard (right)

The Multiple Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and leading collaborative pianist Myra Huang join the prestigious music conservatory’s Vocal Arts and Collaborative Piano divisions, respectively.

Renowned international music conservatory Manhattan School of Music (MSM) welcomed Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, “one of the brightest talents on the American opera scene” (San Francisco Classical Voice), and Grammy-nominated pianist Myra Huang, “among the top accompanists of her generation” (Opera News), to its faculty this fall.

The two appointments – to the School’s Vocal Arts and Collaborative Piano divisions, respectively – are representative of a revitalized approach to Vocal Arts at MSM, one that ensures a cohesive learning environment within all areas of voice studies, extending from the teaching studio to the foundational collaboration that is at the core of the relationship between singer, collaborative pianists, and music coaches.

These high-profile appointments follow the arrival of esteemed educator, director, and arts ambassador Dr. Carleen Graham, who joined the Vocal Arts division in July as MSM’s inaugural Associate Dean and Director of Vocal Arts. In her short time at the School, Dr. Graham has already had a profound impact on the department, providing a unifying leadership role overseeing all aspects of the Vocal Arts student experience and the four areas of the department: voice, related vocal studies, choral, and opera.

“Dr. Graham has brought a deep commitment to training and preparing exceptional young artists to forge future careers as artists, teachers, leaders in the arts, and as global citizens who will contribute creatively and sensitively to the world we all share,” says MSM Executive Vice President and Provost Joyce Griggs. “Those efforts are profoundly enhanced with the addition of world-class artist-teachers like Isabel and Myra whose collective achievements as performing artists and educators, as well as their commitment to our Cultural Inclusion initiatives, will enhance the students’ experiences and readiness as they embark on the professional world.”

For Ms. Leonard, who last spring was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from MSM and is herself a distinguished alumna of MSM’s prestigious Precollege program, those artistic achievements include three Grammy Awards; frequent roles at the Met Opera and the world’s leading stages; appearances with many of the foremost conductors of our time; and a reputation as one of the defining operatic performers of the 21st century. “I am thrilled to be back home at MSM and look forward to working with Dr. Graham and Provost Griggs in continuing the School’s commitment to a world-class and fully rounded music education,” says Ms. Leonard.

Ms. Huang, who the New York Times has called “a coloristic tour de force,” performs in recitals and chamber music concerts around the world and is highly sought after for her interpretation of lieder and art song as well as her depth of musicianship and impeccable technique. An alumna of MSM, she studied collaborative piano with Warren Jones and graduated with her Master of Music in 2001. She regularly performs with highly acclaimed opera singers, including Eric Owens (HonDMA ’16) and Lawrence Brownlee. A two-time Grammy Award nominee, Ms. Huang was nominated in 2018 for her album Gods and Monsters with tenor and MSM alumnus Nicholas Phan (’02) and in 2021 for her album Clairières, also with Nicholas Phan. She is Head Coach at The Aspen Opera Theater and VocalARTS, and Head of Music for the Met Opera’s Lindemann Young Artists Development Program.

“I found my musical voice and conviction during my time as a student in Collaborative Piano at MSM, and it is only the greatest joy and honor for me to come full circle and join the faculty now,” says Ms. Huang. “My past work with MSM as faculty in Opera Theatre underscored the potential of a unifying approach to all elements of vocal studies. That cohesion includes all aspects of vocal performance, including the critical collaboration of singer and pianist. I am delighted this fall to join my accomplished faculty colleagues in MSM’s Collaborative Piano department.”

Ms. Leonard and Ms. Huang are part of a wave of MSM appointments that has seen 19 recent faculty hires, including Mamie Duncan-Gibbs and A. Scott Parry within Vocal Arts, as well as other appointments in Musical Theatre, Strings, Jazz Arts, Composition, Contemporary Performance, Related Vocal Studies (Movement), Music History, and the Center for Music Entrepreneurship.

“Central to the work of our accomplished faculty is to shape an approach to artistic training that stays responsive to our current societal challenges and provides students the opportunity for exploring a more inclusive canon as part of the conservatory curriculum,” says MSM President James Gandre. “This ongoing focus on the important work of creating a more complete education for our talented students is bolstered by the addition of fresh approaches and new faces in our already superb faculty. I am thrilled this fall to welcome Isabel, Myra, and the entire cohort of newly appointed MSM faculty.”

A full list of recent MSM faculty appointments can be found below.

For further information, please contact Jeff Breithaupt, Vice President for Media and Communications, at or (917) 493-4702.


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