March 5, 2021

News Release: Dr. Carleen Graham named inaugural Associate Dean and Director of Vocal Arts at Manhattan School of Music

The esteemed educator, director, and arts ambassador will lead the prestigious music conservatory’s respected Vocal Arts division effective July 1, 2021


NEW YORK, March 4, 2021 – Renowned international music conservatory Manhattan School of Music (MSM) announced today that esteemed educator, director, and arts ambassador Dr. Carleen Graham will join the Vocal Arts division as the School’s inaugural Associate Dean and Director of Vocal Arts beginning on July 1, 2021.

An experienced and respected educator – she is a Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita of the State University of New York at Potsdam – Dr. Graham is director of HGOco, Houston Grand Opera’s celebrated initiative that connects the company to its community through numerous learning and community programs serving over 80,000 Houstonians annually. In her new position at MSM, she will provide a unifying leadership role to oversee all aspects of the Vocal Arts student experience, ensuring a cohesive learning environment within the four areas of the division: voice, vocal related studies, choral, and opera.

She will lead a division that includes Chair of Vocal Arts Maitland Peters, Director of Opera Studies Tazewell Thompson, Director of Choral Activities Kent Tritle, and a host of distinguished faculty in advancing decisions related to academic and artistic programming that reflect and foster a culture of inclusion and a high level of collaboration among students, faculty, and administrative staff.

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Dr. Graham to MSM,” says Executive Vice President and Provost Joyce Griggs. “She brings a deep commitment to training and preparing exceptional young people 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. Her deep experience bringing opera to the Houston community, and her related work with many service organizations, reflects an interest in arts advocacy and the relevance and deep value of the performing arts, not just in the lives of students, but in the lives of audiences as well.”

Central to Dr. Graham’s work at MSM will be her leadership in shaping a future of artistic training at MSM that is responsive to our current societal challenges and provides students the opportunity for exploring new performance paradigms. Building on MSM’s legacy for artistic innovation, Dr. Graham and faculty colleagues will develop a curriculum for classical singers that sharpens their artistic preparation and readiness to enter a profession that has been profoundly changed by current and recent events.

“For over 100 years, Manhattan School of Music has been foundational in the musical education of countless world-class professionals across a wide spectrum of the performing arts and other industries,” Dr. Graham said in a statement. “Located in one of the most exciting cities in the world, it offers unprecedented educational, artistic, and civic opportunities to its diverse international student population. The newly structured Vocal Arts Division provides an exciting opportunity to reimagine what a 21st-century music education means for aspiring young singers. I am grateful to President Gandre and Provost Griggs for the opportunity to serve this historic institution and to work with its impressive faculty to provide an inclusive and safe space where all students can creatively explore, learn, and begin to lay their path in a rapidly changing performing arts industry.”

MSM’s voice department counts among its many high-profile alumni Susan Graham, J’Nai Bridges, Soloman Howard, Nicholas Phan, Sol Jin, Dolora Zajick, Shuler Hensley, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Dawn Upshaw, Simon O’Neill, Yunpeng Wang, and Lauren Flanigan. Its opera studies program has a long history of acclaim, having been hailed over the years by The New York TimesOpera News, and The New Yorker, among many other publications.

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



CARLEEN GRAHAM is director of HGOco, Houston Grand Opera’s celebrated initiative that connects the company to the community through numerous learning and community programs serving over 80,000 Houstonians annually.

During her tenure at HGO she has overseen the commissioning of new works for the Song of Houston and Opera To Go! touring programs as well as innovative programming for Seeking the Human Spirit, a six-year multi-disciplinary initiative that develops partnerships with community and service organizations reflective of the universal themes derived opera. HGOco learning programs include the Bauer Family High School Voice Studio, Teen Opera Club, numerous school and community residencies, professional development workshops, summer camp and student performances of mainstage operas.

Deeply committed to equity, inclusion and justice in the arts, she is a member the artEquity Houston anti-racist facilitator training cohort, Houston Coalition Against Hate, and serves on the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee at HGO.

Dr. Graham is Distinguished Teaching Professor of the State University of New York – Potsdam where she was director of the award-winning Crane Opera Ensemble for 24 years. Her productions of both traditional and new works received awards from the National Opera Association, The American Prize and the American College Theater Festival.

She is an active member of OPERA America’s Education and Community forum, Arts Connect Houston Leadership Committee, and a board member of the Fritz & Lavinia Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition.

Dr. Graham was born and raised in the beautiful Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio and holds degrees from Teachers College Columbia University, New England Conservatory of Music, and Ohio University.



Founded as a community music school by Janet Daniels Schenck in 1918, today MSM is recognized for its more than 900 superbly talented undergraduate and graduate students who come from 44 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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