The 2023 Kurt Weill Book Prize for an outstanding scholarly book on music theater since 1900 has been awarded to Making Broadway Dance, by Liza Gennaro, Dean of Musical Theatre at the Manhattan School of Music, who is also a choreographer.
Her book, published by Oxford University Press, was selected by the Kurt Weill Book Prize advisory panel as the unanimous top choice for this year’s distinction.
The panel praised Liza’s book as a “remarkable work, that is as approachable and engaging as it is carefully researched,” and lauded the inclusion of “many illuminating and overdue corrections to misconceptions about the authorship of some pieces of choreography, and the provocative questions raised about the legacies of certain Golden Age musicals as a result.”
Learn more about the book here.
Cellist Niles Luther (BM ’20) has been hired as Composer-in-Residence at Brooklyn Museum. For the next year, he will be partnering with the Museum’s art division to produce ‘Art Music’ inspired by pieces in the museum’s collection. This is a new position at the museum and is supported by a fellowship Niles received from the Ford Foundation.
Learn more about Niles Luther here.
Dynamic Maximum Tension, the new album on Nonesuch records by MSM Jazz Arts faculty member Darcy James Argue and his group Secret Society — the recording also features Dean of Jazz Arts Ingrid Jensen — has been featured recently in two national media outlets: The New York Times writes about the album in its column “5 Classical Music Albums You Can Listen To Right Now” and the album is featured on NPR‘s program Fresh Air.
Read The New York Times article here.
Listen to the NPR program here.
MSM alumni and students were prominently featured in the annual concert of Sphinx Virtuosi at Carnegie Hall on October 20, representing five of the 18 core players, three of whom were principal artists in the performance.
The performers featured are: Thierry de Lucas (BM ’25), second violin; Maithéna Girault (BM ’20, MM ’22, PPD ’24), second violin; Celia Hatton (MM ’13, PS ’14), principal viola; Christopher Johnson (MM ’08), principal double bass; Tommy Mesa (DMA ’23), principal cello.
Additionally, on the program was a work by MSM alumnus Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (BM ’53, MM ’54). Maithéna Girault introduced the Perkinson work, making mention of the fact that she and Perkinson were both double alumni of MSM.
The Sphinx Virtuosi is an exemplary chamber orchestra and the “flagship performing entity” of the Sphinx Organization.
Learn more about the concert here.
MSM faculty member violinist Ilmar Gavilán will be performing in a special concert event with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra on October 28 and 29, Strings without Borders. Also performing is with violist Jaime Amador. Both are currently artists in residence at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.
Learn more here.
MSM Jazz Orchestra was the featured group on October 16 at Merkin Hall in NYC for the concert”Swing! The Great Big Bands of the Swing Era” at the Kauffman Music Center.
The concert was part of the critically acclaimed series: “What Makes It Great?” conducted by Ron Kapalow.
Photo by MSM President James Gandre.
Learn more about the series here.
MSM Jazz Arts alumnus Jahari Stampley of Chicago has been named first place winner of the 2023 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition.
Four of eight semi-finalists in the competition are MSM Jazz Arts alumni and a current student: Alan Bartuš (MM ’25) of Lučenec, Slovakia; Esteban Castro (PC ’17) of Hackensack, New Jersey; Dabin Ryu (MM ’20) of Seoul, South Korea; and Jenny Xu (MM ’19) of Surrey and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Jahari stands next to Herbie Hancock in the photo above.
The competition held by the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, the world’s preeminent jazz education organization, in association with the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PACNYC), awarded major scholarships and prizes including a $50,000 first place award.
World-renowned pianists Bill Charlap, Orrin Evans, Herbie Hancock, Hiromi and Danilo Pérez served as the Competition judges.
Read more here.
MSM alumnus Jinwoo Lee (AD ’09, DMA ’16) is the newly appointed 2023-2024 concertmaster and lead violinist at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He was most recently the first concertmaster of the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen in Germany. He was a violin faculty at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf from 2018 until 2022.
Jinwoo Lee grew up in South Korea, the United States, and Germany and began playing violin at the age of four. He told CBS Sunday Morning in Milwaukee that being a concertmaster is a great responsibility. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra hasn’t had a new concertmaster for more than a quarter century.
“This is not a completely new job for me but it’s a different orchestra, different colleagues, different conductor and of course, it’s a different country, so there are some cultural and traditional differences,” Lee explained.
Watch the CBS Sunday Morning report here.
MSM alumnus Scott Altman (MM ’96) has been named Los Angeles Master Chorale President & CEO. Mr. Altman will assume this new role on January 2, 2024 after eight years as President & CEO of the Cincinnati Ballet. He previously served in directorship positions with Arizona Opera, Opera New Jersey, and Ballet West.
Altman’s decorated career of nearly 30 years in nonprofit administration and the performing arts includes 20 years as an international opera singer, including 40 roles.
During her studies at MSM, Sophia Lee (MM, OP ’23) worked at MSM as Assistant Performance Library Manager. Since Sept 2022 she has been Assistant Librarian of the New York Pops, and she has worked previously as Associate Head Librarian of the Brevard Music Center.
Sophie begins her appointment with the Florida Orchestra on October 1.
Jasmine Amy Rogers (’19) is being called a “rising star” by the Associated Press after being cast as the iconic flapper Betty Boop in a new musical BOOP! The Betty Boop Musical set for an initial run in Chicago from November 14 to December 24.
“I always dreamt that I would get to do something like this and bring to life somebody as important and as loved as Betty,” says Rogers. “But I never dreamt that in a million years that it would be Betty herself. So it’s really crazy!”
The musical has songs by multiple Grammy Award-winning composer David Foster, Tony Award-nominated lyricist Susan Birkenhead and a story by Tony Award-winning book writer Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone, The Prom).
The musical is directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, who discovered Rogers while he was directing the musical Becoming Nancy at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta in 2019.
Mitchell is a two-time Tony Award-winning choreographer and director whose shows include Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hairspray and La Cage aux Folles.
Learn more about the casting of Jasmine Amy Rogers here.
Shortly before his MET Opera debut in Nabucco on Sept 26, SeokJong Baek (BM ’16, MM ’18) is interviewed by The New York Times in his native South Korea about his career transition from baritone to tenor.
SeokJong Baek will also be performing at the MET later this year in Turandot.
Read article here.
MSM faculty member Valerie Coleman and MSM alumnus cellist Thomas Mesa (DMA ’17) are both featured soloists on the new album Songs for Our Times by Sphinx Virtuosi released on the Deutsche Grammophon label.
Ms. Coleman is featured on two songs, Tracing Visions for String Orchestra I: Till. and Tracing for String Orchestra II: Amandla!
Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa, first prize winner of the 2016 Sphinx Competition and the Astral Artists 2017 National Auditions, is soloist on the concerto Divided, written for Thomas and Sphinx Virtuosi by Jesse Montgomery.
Sphinx Virtuosi is a groundbreaking self-conducted American string ensemble comprised of 18 exceptional young Black and Latinx string players.
More about the album here.
Listen to the album on Spotify here.
The Village Trip GuitarFest features talented guitarists from the tri-state region for a three-day festival of new and old music for guitars.
Sept 14 showcases a tribute to the late Scott Johnson with a performance of his “Bowery Haunt” for two electric guitars, performed by MSM guitar faculty member Oren Fader, joined by William Anderson.
On Sept 16 at 6 PM, the Bowers Fader Duo will perform “Beyond the Line of Blue”, by Damon Ferrante, and Oren is joined by guitarist Jack Ward in Martin Rokeach’s “Fantasy on Twelve Strings.” And at 8 PM, the Bowers Fader Duo performs Richard Cameron-Woolf’s “Gazelle in my Garden.” The Bowers Fader Duo will also perform on Sept 19 and 29.
Festival information is found here.
MSM guitar faculty member David Leisner will be a featured soloist in the final of three GuitarFest concerts in the Village Trip Festival in New York City. David will play the second performance works he recently commissioned and premiered:
Chester Biscardi Finding Beauty in Small Places
Laura Kaminsky Ruminations
Bun-Ching Lam Five Contemplations
The concert takes place Sat., Sept. 16 at 8 PM at St. John’s in the Village, 218 W. 11 St. At 6 PM in the same venue, Sebastián Molina, a current student of David Leisner, will perform the world premiere of a piece commissioned for him by a Chilean foundation, Volver a los 19 by Felipe Pinto d’Aguiar, and will also play David’s composition Freedom Fantasy no. 1 (“Go Down, Moses”).
More information about these events and the festival can be found here.
MSM faculty member Lisa Yui says she is releasing these two recordings because for her, the compositions “are examples of the greatest legacies of the human mind and heart.”
The CD was recorded over three days in New York City in 2017. Ms. Yui writes about her reasons for waiting six years to release in an article here.
Schumann Fantasie in C major; Liszt Sonata in B minor is available on Bandcamp and was released on Sep. 7, 2023 on all major streaming platforms.
The nonprofit organization and performance center SFJazz in San Francisco has named trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard its executive artistic director.
A six-time Grammy winner, Blanchard has written and recorded over 40 film scores, including for most of Spike Lee’s movies.
“Despite being a conservatory dropout himself, he has become a leading educator, helping shape programs at U.C.L.A., the University of Miami and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz,” writes The New York Times. “And in recent years, he has made headlines for the back-to-back Met premieres of his two operas, Fire Shut Up in My Bones and Champion.”
SFJazz began as a jazz festival and traveling presenter around San Francisco. It convened a house ensemble of all-star musicians, the SFJazz Collective, in 2004, and opened the $64 million, state-of-the-art SFJazz Center in 2013.
Joanne Polk‘s CD of solo piano music by 19th-century French composer Louise Farrenc (1804-1875) is released today on the Steinway & Sons label.
Entitled The Silence Between the Notes, the CD features, according to Joanne, “gorgeous poetic moments, as well as etudes that are quite challenging. Most of the music has never heard before.”
The CD is available on on streaming platforms; MSM students, faculty, and staff may listen to the CD on MSM’s NAXOS page in the MSM Library.
More about the CD and Joanne Polk here.
More about Louise Farrenc here.
Alumnus Caleb van der Swaagh (PS ’13, PS ’14) recently joined the critically acclaimed Aizuri Quartet which is about to launch its 12th season. Caleb studied at MSM with David Geber and is currently a professor of cello at SUNY Purchase. A champion of new music, he is a member of counter)induction and Ensemble Échappé.
Read more here.
Learn more about Caleb here.
Jinwoo Lee (AD ’09, DMA ’16), who studied at MSM with Robert Mann, has been appointed concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony. He was a violin faculty member at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf from 2018 until 2022.
Learn more about Jinwoo Lee here.
MSM Jazz Arts master’s student Motswedi (Moe) Modiba has advanced to the finals in the Sing! China competition program on Chinese television, watched by hundreds of millions of spectators. The South African native is singing in Chinese; she speaks the language having lived in the country previously. MSM faculty member Jean Baylor is coaching Moe for her performances. The program is modelled after the US TV program The Voice.
Clips of her performance have been trending on both Chinese and South African social media platforms, and Moe has been invited to perform during an upcoming state visit to China by the South African president. She is the first Black and first performer from South Africa to appear on the show, and news of her appearance is being reported by major news outlets in China and in South Africa.
Watch a clip of Moe’s performance here at the 20-minute mark.
Read a news story from South Africa here.
Recent MSM graduate Nikolas Rodriguez (MM ’23) won the position of Piccolo with the Bogota Philharmonic Orchestra in Colombia on June 16, 2023.
Originally from Ibagué, Colombia, Nikolas studied at MSM with Robert Langevin.
Nikolas has won many awards including first prize at the First Colombia National Competition for Flutists and second prize at the Third RC International Flute Competition, as well as the III Competition for Young soloists of the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra.
Learn more about Nikolas Rodriguez here.
Naoko Nakajima (PPD ’24), currently studying with Sylvia Rosenberg at MSM, has won a position with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra beginning in fall 2023.
More information about the San Francisco Opera Orchestra here.
Venezuelan violist and MSM alumnus Ramón Carrero-Martinez (BM ’19, MM ’21) has been selected as a 2023-2025 fellow for Ensemble Connect. While at MSM, Ramón studied with Daniel Avshalomov.Ensemble Connect is a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. This two-year fellowship program prepares extraordinary young professional classical musicians for careers that combine musical excellence with teaching, community engagement, advocacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership.Learn more about Ramón here.Learn more about Ensemble Connect here.
The New York Times classical music critic Zachary Wolfe reviewed Treemonisha praising MSM alumnus and faculty member Damien Sneed’s reworking of Scott Joplin’s opera.
“Sneed gamely inhabited a Joplin-like idiom in the newly composed material,” writes the critic.
Zachary Wolfe also hailed MSM alumnus Justin Austin (BM ’14, MM ’17) who has a lead role in the production: “Baritone Justin Austin vibrated with passionate life as Joplin and Remus.”
MSM Jazz Arts alumnus the Grammy-nominated Jimmy Greene (DMA ’18) has been named to a full professor position at Western Connecticut State University.
A native of Connecticut, Greene is considered one of the most respected saxophonists of his generation. Greene and his groups perform regularly in jazz venues, festivals and clubs worldwide. In addition to his recordings and appearances as a leader, Greene appears on over 75 albums as a sideman, and has toured and/or recorded with Horace Silver, Ron Carter, Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, and Harry Connick, Jr., among many others.
Learn more about Jimmy Greene here.
Bass Baritone Nan Wang (MM ’22, PS ’23) has been named one of six new resident artists of the prestigious institution the Academy of Vocal Arts. Nan Wang is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music and the Central Conservatory of Music in China, and has collaborated with Glimmerglass Festival and the Chautauqua Institute, among others. He studied at MSM with Marlena Malas.
“We are thrilled to welcome these extraordinary artists to the Academy of Vocal Arts. They represent the future of opera and embody the passion, dedication, and artistry that we strive to foster at our institution,” says Scott Guzielek, President and Artistic Director of AVA about the new residents.
Opera Wire reports on the news here.
Read MSM’s profile of Nan Wang published in December 2022 here.
Ambrose Akinmusire (BM ’05), who studied Jazz Trumpet at MSM with Laurie Frink, has been named the Artistic Director of UCLA’s prestigious Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance in residence at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. He is a 2007 graduate of the program.
In 2007, Akinmusire won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, two of the most prestigious jazz competitions in the world.
The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance is a tuition-free two-year program that accepts one ensemble of musicians for each class.
Learn more about the program here.
The release by Christopher Cerrone (BM ’07, DMA ’00) In a Grove, is a new opera in two parts available as a digital download and limited CD release. Christopher studied composition at MSM with Nils Vigeland and Reiko Fueting. He was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2014, and has won numerous ASCAP awards.
In a Grove is a meditation on trauma and the fallacies of human memory, with Christopher Cerrone and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann taking their inspiration from a 1922 short story by Japanese author Ryonusuke Akutagawa.
The album features the voices of Lindsay Kesselman, Chuanyuan Liu, Andrew Turner, and John Taylor Ward, as well as the respected instrumentalists of Metropolis Ensemble. The album was produced by Christopher Cerrone, alongside his colleagues Mike Tierney and Andrew Cyr.
More about the CD and Christopher Cerrone here.
Opera Wire review of In a Grove here.
Lauren A. Marchand, Precollege student of Giuseppe Spoletini won “Best Performance by an Actress”at the 2023 National High School Musical Theatre Awards, also known as the Jimmy Awards. She received a $25,000 scholarship.
The Jimmy Awards are the highest honor forHigh School musical theater students in the United States.
In photo: Lauren Marchand (on right) poses with Best Actor Langston Lee (on left), and Jimmy Awards host Corbin Bleu (in middle). Photo by Tricia Baron.
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