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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.”
Read article here.
German composer Reiko Füting, a composition faculty member and department administrator at MSM, is releasing the world premiere recording of his opera Mechthild with libretto by poet and theologian Christian Lehnert on New Focus Recordings.
Füting’s subject, Mechthild of Magdeburg, was a 13th-century female Christian mystic whose influential writings were rediscovered in the 19th century. Füting and Lehnert’s score explores topics of faith and asceticism in the context of the musicality inherent in language, connecting different eras of artistic expression through time and memory.
Learn more about the recording here.
Purchase the album here.
Watch a video feature in German about the recording here.
MSM faculty member violinist Peter Winograd, a member of the American String Quartet, is the concertmaster for The Discovery Orchestra’s performance of Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony conducted and presented by George Marriner Maull, airing on April 22 at 11 AM on WNET’s (New York PSB affiliate) online All Arts channel.
Recorded by this Emmy-nominated and Telly Award-winning symphony orchestra and its 91 musicians last October, the interactive, educational concert will also be distributed nationally by American Public Television (APT) on May 1 for broadcast on U.S. public television stations (check local listings).
More info here.
MSM Precollege faculty member Judith Insell has been awarded an advocacy award of “Jazz Hero” from the Jazz Journalist Association, the jazz industry’s most respected association. She earned this honor for her work leading the Bronx Arts Ensemble. Judith has been executive director of the Bronx Arts Ensemble since March 2021, and was formerly its artistic director.
On April 7, MSM piano faculty members Jeffrey Cohen (in center of photo) and MSM strings faculty member Lucie Robert (violin) will perform Brahms and Schubert in a chamber recital at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary, along with Gábor Farkas (in photo on left).
Admission is free.
More information about the concert here.
The new work by MSM theory and composition faculty member Paolo Marchettini is called Armoniosi accenti and was commissioned by the Orchestra Haydn of Bolzano in Italy. It will be premiered on May 16 and 17 in the cities of Bolzano and Trento in Italy under the baton of the famous conductor and harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone.
“Armoniosi accenti features the same unusual instrumentation of Mozart Gran Partita, which will be also in the program together with Haydn Symphony 96,” says Paolo.
MSM Musical Theatre “Acting the Song” instructor LaDonna Burns is an understudy performing in White Girl in Danger, the latest musical from Tony- and Pulitzer-Prize winner Michael R. Jackson.
The Off-Broadway production will have its world premiere when it opens on April 10 in New York City at the Tony Kiser Theater and is a co-production by Second Stage Theater and Vineyard Theatre.
An article by MSM alumna and piano faculty member Lisa Yui’s entiled “Piano Music by Composer’s from Asia: A History of the Piano in Asia” has been published in the spring 2023 edition of Piano Magazine.
Dr. Yui is a long-time faculty member at MSM and hosts the ongoing performance series in Greenfield Hall called Lives of the Piano.
Read the article in Piano Magazine here.
MSM Contemporary Performance Program faculty member Todd Reynolds is the concertmaster for the upcoming Broadway production of Parade, which is moving to Broadway after a sold-out run at New York City Center last fall.
The production is directed by Tony-nominated Michael Arden, with book by Tony-, Pultizer-, and Academy Award-winner Jason Robert Brown. It is co-conceived by Tony Award winning legend Harold Prince.
Parade opens in previews on February 21, with opening night on March 16. The show will have a limited run to August 6.
More info about Parade here.
Learn more about Todd Reynolds here.
MSM piano faculty member, alumnus, and MET orchestra member Bryan Wagorn (DMA ’13) is performing onstage in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Fedora, as a pianist.
The New York Times writes about this exceptional highly visible role for a MET orchestra member here.
MSM Musical Theatre program Music Director David Loud is vocal arranger for the upcoming Broadway show New York, New York which opens in previews on March 24.
David recently authored his autobiography, Facing the Music.
Learn more about the new musical here.
MSM faculty member and internationally renowned pianist Yefim Bronfman (HonDMA ’15) returns to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from November 2 to 5 to perform Mozart’s jubilant Piano Concerto No. 22.
Also on the program, Music Director Jaap van Zweden leads the Orchestra in Anton Bruckner’s monumental Symphony No. 7.
More about the concert here.
More about Yefim Bronfman here.
Jazz pianist, composer, and MSM faculty member Phil Markowitz has released Solo Piano Live in Rome, a nearly 90-minute live recording of a concert held at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome. The three-encore performance includes original compositions and re-imagined standards. The album is Mr. Markowitz’s first solo release in his long and storied career.
Available at Amazon Music and iTunes. More about the album here.
In late October, Dean Graham will present two masterclasses at Brigham Young University and speak about the process of auditioning for graduate school programs in voice.
Dean Graham has also been invited to present with Darren Woods at the plenary session for the National Opera Association Conference in Houston in January 2023.
Conductor and baritone Malcolm J. Merriweather (DMA ’15), an MSM alumnus and faculty member, has been appointed the first-ever director of the newly formed New York Philharmonic Chorus. The ensemble will have its premiere performance during the David Geffen Hall opening galas beginning on October 26 at 7 PM in a concert that will feature some of opera and Broadway’s biggest stars, including Renée Fleming, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bernadette Peters, and Vanessa Williams.
Learn more about the appointment here.
Learn more about Malcom here.
Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa, recently honored MSM vocal arts faculty member Mark Schnaible with the institution’s respected CODA Legacy Award for lifetime achievement in the field of the performing and visual arts.
The internationally renowned bass-baritone and vocal technician has enjoyed a distinguished career in the classical music world for the past 35 years.
The award is given to graduates of Morningside University who have demonstrated academic and performance excellence, unusually high leadership and service on a local, regional, and/or national level.
More about Mark Schnaible here.
MSM Jazz Arts faculty members Damien Sneed and Theo Bleckmann are both featured in a groundbreaking series at New York City’s Town Hall celebrating four women composers who have shaped American culture over the decades.
Theo Bleckmann is part of Meredith Monk‘s Vocal Ensemble on Saturday, October 15, for the New York premiere of Memory Game. On January 7, composer/producer/arranger Damien Sneed will be music director in a program celebrating the Grammy-winning Gospel singer, songwriter, record producer, musician, and evangelist Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark.
Also being celebrated as part of this Town Hall series: legendary singer-songwriter Judy Collins and composer Laura Kaminsky.
More information on the series here.
MSM faculty member and alumnus Shmuel Katz has been named Associate Principal Violist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. Shmuel had been for many years an associate member of the MET Orchestra for a decade before this step up. He also serves as Principal Violist of the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center and the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra.
Shmuel is on the viola faculty and the orchestral performance program faculty at MSM. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MSM, where he studied violin and viola with Pinchas Zukerman, Michael Tree, and Patinka Kopec.
Learn more about the appointment here.
In his new recording out on Albany Records, MSM Precollege faculty member and pianist Adam Kent performs music for piano by 2021 Pulitzer Prize-winner Tania Léon, which she composed over a span of almost 50 years.
On July 28, The New York Times featured the recording as its top pick in its choice of “Five Classical Albums You Can Listen to Right Now.”
Adam Kent has performed in recital, as soloist with orchestra, and as a chamber musician throughout the United States, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Latin America. A winner of the American Pianists Association Fellowship and Simone Belsky Music Awards, Dr. Kent has also received top prizes in many prestigious competitions.
Learn more about the CD here.
Learn more about Adam Kent here.
Jazz Arts faculty member Damien Sneed received a rave review for his conducting and arrangement of the June performance of The Ordering of Moses at Riverside Church. The Harlem Chamber Players presented R. Nathaniel Dett’s 1937 oratorio in honor of the centennial of the Harlem Renaissance, for the Juneteenth weekend.
MSM Alumna Krysty Swann (BM ’08)was the mezzo soprano soloist.
“Sneed’s harmonization gave it a discordant underbelly reflective of struggle — a reminder that it has been only two years since protests for George Floyd swept the globe, and one year since Juneteenth, an annual observation of Emancipation dating to 1866, was consecrated as a federal holiday,” writes NY Times critic Oussama Zahr.
Read the review here.
The feature article in Opera News by Karen Chilton with photography by Darío Acosta spotlights MSM faculty member Damien Sneed conducting The Ordering of Moses at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City on June 17, presented by the Harlem Chamber Players.
Read the article here.
Learn more about the production here.
Congratulations to MSM faculty and alumni who won 2022 GRAMMY Awards for classical, jazz, and composing/arranging!
The awards were presented on April 3, 2022 in Las Vegas. Winners include MSM alumni Anthony Roth Costanzo (MM ’08) (in photo on left) and J’Nai Bridges (BM ’09) soloists in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Philip Glass’ Ahknaten which won Best Opera Recording.
View the full list of winners here.
View all MSM faculty and alumni nominated for the 2022 awards here.
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