September 12, 2018

Our Centennial Programming at Manhattan School of Music: A Road Map

by John K. Blanchard (MM ’89)
MSM Institutional Historian & Director of Archives

After months of planning, our 100th anniversary season is upon us!

In considering how best to celebrate our history, the Centennial Committee — members of the faculty, administration, Board, and MSM alumni — explored six areas of programming:

  • Compositions that had their first performances at MSM
  • Works by noted MSM alumni and former faculty
  • Programs that showcase our current talented College and Precollege students
  • Celebrated pieces that are linked to the time of the School’s founding
  • A rich roster of guest alumni soloists and master class artists
  • Special events that tell the story of MSM’s past, present, and future

Over the course of the institution’s distinguished history, more than 200 compositions have had their first performance at MSM.

Institutional Historian

“Re-premieres” for new audiences

Over the course of the institution’s distinguished history, more than 200 compositions have had their first performance at Manhattan School of Music (not including hundreds of student works), and several others were commissioned for the School’s special events and anniversaries.

In celebration of this heritage of creative output, a touchstone of the 2018–19 Season has been the idea of giving some of these pieces new life — a “re-premiere” as it were — to expose them to a new audience. Those works include Anniversary Fanfare for orchestra by David Noon; A Rush of Wings for orchestra and American Pilgrimage for string quartet by Robert Sirota; Harlem River Reveille for brass by Aaron Jay Kernis (BM ’81); Five Meditations on Music from Luigi Rossi’s Collection for piano by Reiko Füting (DMA ’00); Fanfare for brass by Giampaolo Bracali; and <<rewind<< for orchestra by Anna Clyne (MM ’05), to name a few.

Alumna Anna Clyne — who has been Composer-in-Residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn's National Sawdust, and currently the Berkeley Symphony — will see her work <<rewind<< performed by the Precollege Philharmonic in February.

A spotlight on MSM former faculty and alumni

The season will also feature works by distinguished former faculty and alumni such as Vittorio Giannini, John Corigliano (’63), Ludmila Ulehla (BM ’47, MM ’48), Nicolas Flagello (BM ’49, MM ’50), Adolphus Hailstork (BM ’63, MM ’65), Tobias Picker (BM ’77), Ursula Mamlok (BM ’57, MM ’58), John Musto (BM ’76, MM ’80), Rupert Holmes (’67), Ned Rorem (HonDMA ’00), and Elias Tanenbaum, among others.

Jane Glover will conduct Epitaph for a Man Who Dreamed (for Martin Luther King, Jr.) by Adolphus Hailstork, 2017 recipient of the MSM Distinguished Alumni Award, on a February 15 Chamber Sinfonia concert.

Events inspired by the past, and MSM’s founder

Music written and/or premiered around the time of the School’s founding in 1918 — including Stravinsky’s Ragtime, Delius’s A Song Before Sunrise, and Puccini’s Suor Angelica — is programmed.

MSM’s Percussion Ensemble Guest Co-Director Mike Perdue (MM ’11) is following in the tradition of former faculty member Paul Price by writing new works for the ensemble. Perdue was inspired by Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat (A Soldier’s Tale), to write L’Histoire du diable, to be premiered on September 28, exactly 100 years to the day that Stravinsky’s piece was premiered in Switzerland.

Music by Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial birthday is also being celebrated this year, will be featured, as will that of Claude Debussy, who died in 1918.

MSM’s founder, Janet Daniels Schenck, who studied with pianist Harold Bauer in Paris, was a member of the piano faculty for decades and her students included renowned pedagogue Dora Zaslavsky Koch. Faculty member Lisa Yui (DMA ’05), in her “Lives of the Piano” series, presents “Legacies,” a program exploring the lineage of piano at MSM, with special focus on Dora as well as Constance Keene.

Lisa Yui (faculty, DMA ’05) will explore the legacies of Dora Zaslavsky Koch (middle picture with Harold Bauer) and Constance Keene on October 18.

MSM students and faculty in concert

Tributes to the School’s history will be presented in several special Student Project in Performance presentations and faculty recitals:

  • Piano student Thomas Feng’s “Transcending Tradition: Music Outside The Box” program will feature works by MSM composers that extend performance practice into unique instrumentations, spoken word, and visual media.
  • Tuba student Brandon Cazden’s “Electrotuba” concert will include a premiere set to a multimedia tribute to MSM’s history.
  • Two conducting students, Ken Yanagisawa and Joseph Carlomagno, will present orchestral music from the period of MSM’s founding, including works by Delius, Ravel, and Sibelius.
  • Musical Theatre faculty member Andrew Gerle has created “A Century in the City” — a program of songs by John Musto (BM ’76, MM ’80), Leonard Bernstein, and former MSM faculty members John Corigliano (’63, HonDMA ’92) and Vittorio Giannini, with world premieres by Mr. Gerle and Rupert Holmes (’67).
  • A concert by Saxophone faculty member Paul Cohen (MM ’76, DMA ’85) will feature works by alumnus Steve Cohen (BM ’76), and former MSM faculty members Nicolas Flagello (BM ’49, MM ’50), Elias Tanenbaum, and Ursula Mamlok (BM ’57, MM ’58).

Saxophonist Paul Cohen (MM ’76, DMA ’85) will present a faculty recital on January 24.

There will be further alumni/faculty/student collaborations in a February concert presented by the MSM Black Student Union, MSM’s longest standing student-run tradition; a re-opening concert of the expanded Solomon Gadles Mikowsky Hall, featuring performances by some of his acclaimed former students; and a musical celebration of faculty member Pinchas Zukerman’s 70th birthday.

Which brings us back to the beginning. The very beginning.

Our Centennial Season will open on Friday, September 28, with a day-long series of concerts that showcase the breadth of the MSM community of artists.

  • The day will start with a concert of solo and chamber music and it is fitting that the first work on our first concert would be for solo piano, in honor of our founder, Janet Schenck.
  • The program will also include Schubert’s An die Musik, a Precollege trio playing Mendelssohn, a College sextet playing Tchaikovsky, and the Third Rail Duo performing a flute and guitar work by Nicolas Flagello.
  • World premieres by current student Elliot Roman — who has used the School’s motto, Macte virtute sic itur ad astra, in a choral setting — and Mike Perdue (his Stravinsky-inspired work discussed earlier) will round out the hour-long concert.
  • Two more afternoon concerts follow, one featuring our Musical Theatre students and the other devoted to Jazz.

The Opening Day Celebration will conclude in The Riverside Church at 7:30 with two works: To Music, by former faculty member and alumnus John Corigliano, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The Corigliano work was written for the Cincinnati Symphony’s Centennial and quotes Schubert’s An die Musik (which will have been heard early in the Solo and Chamber Music Showcase). The MSM Symphony, Symphonic Chorus, and Chamber Choir will be joined by alumni and faculty soloists — all conducted by guest conductor Roderick Cox.

Amassed forces for the January 1970 dedication concert of John C. Borden Auditorium. David Diamond, President George Schick, Peter Mennin, and Aaron Copland wait in the Grand Foyer for the concert to begin.

The 7:30 concert has a doppelgänger in our School’s past. The program for the dedication of John C. Borden Auditorium in January 1970 also consisted of two works: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and a new work by then-faculty member David Diamond titled (you guessed it) To Music.

And so, as Schiller’s and Beethoven’s words of unity, friendship, joy, and what dwells “beyond the stars,” ring out on September 28, we will be looking back, looking up, looking at each other, and looking forward to a glorious Centennial Season.

Please visit our Centennial page to navigate these and other Centennial-linked works, people, and events:

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