NEW YORK, April 20, 2023 – Renowned international music conservatory Manhattan School of Music (MSM) today announced four new faculty appointments. The newly announced faculty – Metropolitan Opera Orchestra principal trombonists Demian Austin and Sasha Romero and esteemed pianists Michelle Cann and Jiayin Li – will join the School beginning in the Fall 2023 semester.
“It is with great delight we share the news about these exciting new faculty appointments,” says MSM Executive Vice President and Provost Joyce Griggs. “I have enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with each of these accomplished artist-teachers and to discuss their educational philosophy and perspectives. Each of them has expressed an outlook that aligns with MSM’s dedication to fostering excellence, a rich educational environment that values students’ creative risk-taking, and a commitment to expanding the musical canon to reflect a more inclusive world view.”
Demian Austin’s appointment to the MSM faculty comes as he continues to enjoy a busy schedule of performances. In addition to his role as principal trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (MET Orchestra), he is also a member of the MET Chamber Ensemble, which performs regularly at Carnegie Hall.
Sasha Romero, one of the principal trombonists of the MET Orchestra, brings MSM perspectives as an orchestral musician and has an accomplished record of national and international solo and chamber music competition wins to her name. Notably, she was a semi-finalist in the first Brass Division of the 2019 XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Pianist Michelle Cann is lauded as “technically fearless with…an enormous, rich sound” (La Scena Musicale) and has performed as a soloist with prominent orchestras such as the Atlanta and Cincinnati symphony orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. She is the recipient of the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization, and the 2022 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. She is currently also on the faculty of The Curtis Institute of Music.
Jiayin Li has been on the MSM Precollege faculty since 2017 and received her doctorate in Piano Performance at Manhattan School of Music under the guidance of Solomon Mikowsky. She has a rich career as a passionate performer-educator, with more than 10 years of teaching at the collegiate level in China. She has been invited as guest artist-teacher at the Perugia Music Festival in Italy and performed, taught master classes, and contributed pedagogical articles at the Bydgoszcz Academy of Music in Poland, the Rodolfo Halffter Conservatory in Madrid, and elsewhere.
These four appointments follow several other high-profile faculty additions announced by MSM in recent months, including violinists Eugene Drucker (Emerson Quartet founding member) and Ilmar Gavilán (Harlem Quartet founding member, MSM alumnus); collaborative pianists, MSM alumni, and members of the Metropolitan Opera artistic staff Myra Huang (MM ’01), Thomas Lausmann (PS ’00), and Bryan Wagorn (DMA ’13); and, also beginning in fall 2023, GRAMMY-nominated flutist and composer Valerie Coleman, and violinists and MSM alumni Xiao Wang (BM ’13, MM ’15, AD ’16) and Chloé Kiffer (MM ’14, PS ’16). In addition to these and other notable faculty appointments, longtime concertmaster of the MET Opera Orchestra David Chan assumed the mantle of leadership of MSM’s renowned Graduate Program in Orchestral Performance in July 2022.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Demian, Sasha, Michelle, and Jiayin, to the MSM College faculty,” says MSM President James Gandre, who recently led the School through a series of major campus improvements, including the renovation of MSM’s principal performance space, Neidorff-Karpati Hall, and the opening of a grand new main entrance on Claremont Avenue. “This is an exciting time to join MSM; our applications for 2023–24 topped 3,000 and represented the most the institution has ever received for a single academic year; we’ve experienced record giving over the past four years; and in the last two years, we’ve welcomed more than two dozen new artist-faculty to the School. These four new artist-teachers will add luster and excellence to an already deeply accomplished faculty.”
Bios and further information about Manhattan School of Music, can be found below.
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ABOUT DEMIAN AUSTIN
Demian Austin is principal trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra (1994 –), and a member of the MET Chamber Ensemble which performs regularly at Carnegie Hall’s Weill and Zankel halls.
He also performs regularly with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center and has performed with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Mr. Austin has played on numerous recordings, including “Solos with Piano” for the Buffet-Crampon Group, the Metropolitan Opera Brass CDs, over 30 movie soundtracks, Dialogues with Double Bass with Jeremy McCoy on Bridge Records, the GM Recordings issue of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Brahms’ First Symphony conducted by Gunther Schuller, and many recordings with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, including Strauss’ Tod und Verklärung.
He can also be heard regularly on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Live at the Met broadcasts, the Saturday Matinee Broadcasts of the Met, and on The Met: Live in HD worldwide movie simulcasts. Mr. Austin is also on the faculty of Mannes School of Music, Bard Conservatory of Music, and Juilliard’s precollege division.
After spending his youth in the greater Cincinnati area, his family moved to San Francisco where he attended the San Francisco School of the Arts High School and studied privately with Don Kennelly from the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. In 1992, he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1992 from Oberlin College, where he studied with Raymond Premru, and his Master of Music degree was completed in 1995 from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Per Brevig.
Aside from his career in music, Mr. Austin has a keen interest in film and has attended several intensive seminars on screenwriting.
Lauded as “technically fearless with…an enormous, rich sound” (La Scena Musicale), pianist Michelle Cann made her orchestral debut at age 14 and has since performed as a soloist with prominent orchestras such as the Atlanta and Cincinnati symphony orchestras, The Cleveland Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, and The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Ms. Cann’s 2022-23 season includes an appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, return engagements with the Cincinnati and New Jersey symphonies, and debut performances with the Baltimore, National, New World, Seattle, and Utah symphonies. She makes her debut at Carnegie Hall with the New York Youth Symphony and performs recitals in New Orleans, Little Rock, Sarasota, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.
A champion of the music of Florence Price, Ms. Cann performed the New York City premiere of the composer’s Piano Concerto in One Movement with The Dream Unfinished Orchestra in July 2016 and the Philadelphia premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in February 2021, which the Philadelphia Inquirer called “exquisite.” Her recording of the concerto with the New York Youth Symphony received a GRAMMY Award in 2023 for Best Orchestral Performance. Her recording Revival: Music of Florence Price and Margaret Bonds, releases in May 2023 on the Curtis Studio label. She also recorded two Price piano quintets with the Catalyst Quartet as part of the quartet’s UNCOVERED anthology.
Ms. Cann is the recipient of the 2022 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, the highest honor bestowed by the Sphinx Organization, and the 2022 Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award. Embracing a dual role as performer and pedagogue, Ms. Cann frequently teaches master classes and leads residencies. She has served on the juries of the Cleveland International Piano Competition and at the Music Academy of the West. She has also appeared as cohost and collaborative pianist with NPR’s From The Top.
Ms. Cann studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, where she serves on the piano faculty as the inaugural Eleanor Sokoloff Chair in Piano Studies.
Jiayin Li received her doctorate in Piano Performance at Manhattan School of Music under the guidance of Solomon Mikowsky and has been a piano faculty member of MSM’s Precollege Division since 2017. She has been invited as guest artist-teacher at the Perugia Music Festival in Italy and has performed, taught masterclasses, and contributed pedagogical articles at the Bydgoszcz Academy of Music in Poland, the Rodolfo Halffter Conservatory in Madrid, the Lancaster International Piano Festival, Millersville University in Pennsylvania, the International Piano Festivals in Havana, the Central Conservatories in Beijing and Xiamen, the Florence Culture and Arts Exchange Center in Dalian, and at the Royal Conservatory of Scotland, where she was also the adjudicator of the school’s annual Mozart Concerto competition.
In MSM’s Precollege, Dr. Li’s student won the Manhattan School of Music Precollege Concerto Competition and performed as soloist with the Symphony Orchestra, while a second student was the alternate winner. Her students also won the Steinway Award, and top prizes in the MTNA New York State competition, the American Music Teachers League competition, the Piano Teachers Congress competition, and a Special Prize at Claudette Sorel Piano Competition at the State University of New York in Fredonia.
Previously, Dr. Li’s students had won top prizes in many national competitions in China (Steinway, Young Chang, Kayserburg, Hailun, and Xinghai), including the Prime Golden Bell Music Award, and in international competitions in Italy (Imola), Germany, Estonia, Singapore, Malaysia, and in the U.S. She appeared on educational television in China and was recognized with various honorary pedagogical diplomas. Her pupils were accepted to some of the leading schools in the US, such as Princeton, Yale, Indiana, Juilliard, and the New England Conservatory.
The Office of the Historian of the City of Havana is releasing 2 CDs, Jiayin Li in Havana, a recital she performed at the UNESCO landmark Basílica, following an appearance with the Cuban National Symphony and a recital at the Ignacio Cervantes Hall. Another forthcoming CD will comprise Cuban piano music from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, which is the subject of Dr. Li’s doctoral dissertation, to be published as an introduction to piano teachers and students worldwide.
Sasha Romero was appointed principal trombone of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2018. Prior to her appointment at the Met, she held the position of principal trombone with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra from 2016 to 2018.
Hailing from Longview, Texas, Sasha grew up within the acclaimed and robust Texas band system and achieved great musical success at a young age. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Music degree at Baylor University, where she studied with Brent Phillips; and her Master of Music degree at Rice University, studying with Allen Barnhill.
In addition to a lengthy list of national and international solo and chamber music competition wins to her name, Sasha is honored to have been a semi-finalist in the first Brass Division of the 2019 XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Sasha is a passionate educator and currently serves on the trombone faculties at Rutgers University, Mannes School of Music, and Bard College Conservatory of Music. A highly sought-after teacher, soloist, and clinician, she has presented solo recitals and master classes at numerous colleges, universities, music conservatories, and industry conventions across the United States.
Sasha is occasionally invited to perform as a guest trombonist with the world’s major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Dallas Symphony, Houston Symphony, and others. She can be heard on Weezer’s OK Human album, as well as the film soundtracks to The Good Liar (2019) and Joker(2019).
Sasha currently makes her home in New York City, where she spends an embarrassing amount of time catering to the demands of her absurdly adorable cats and searching endlessly for decent Mexican food.
Sasha Romero is an S.E. Shires Performing Artist and she has a signature mouthpiece line with Long Island Brass Co.
Founded as a community music school by Janet Daniels Schenck in 1918, today MSM is recognized for its more than 1,000 superbly talented undergraduate and graduate students who come from more than 50 countries and nearly all 50 states; its innovative curricula and world-renowned artist-teacher faculty that includes musicians from the New York Philharmonic, the Met Orchestra, and the top ranks of the jazz and Broadway communities; and a distinguished community of accomplished, award-winning alumni working at the highest levels of the musical, educational, cultural, and professional worlds.
The School is dedicated to the personal, artistic, and intellectual development of aspiring musicians, from its Precollege students through those pursuing doctoral studies. Offering classical, jazz, and musical theatre training, MSM grants a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees. True to MSM’s origins as a music school for children, the Precollege program continues to offer superior music instruction to 475 young musicians between the ages of 5 and 18. The School also serves some 2,000 New York City schoolchildren through its Arts-in-Education Program, and another 2,000 students through its critically acclaimed Distance Learning Program.
Manhattan School of Music acknowledges that we gather on the traditional land of the Lenape and Wappinger past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit as well.
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