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April 20, 2023

News release: Manhattan School of Music announces four new appointments to its prestigious faculty

Demian Austin and Sasha Romero will join the School’s trombone faculty; Michelle Cann and Jiayin Li will join the piano faculty.

All four appointments begin in Fall 2023.

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.

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

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