Success Stories

Explore Recent News and Success Stories about MSM Students, Alumni, and Faculty.

  • Oct 15, 2019Chamber Music

    David Krakauer releases new album with ABRAHAM INC

    Faculty member and clarinetist David Krakauer and his 11-piece band ABRAHAM INC released Together We Stand today on all major music platforms. The band is currently on tour in Europe, and will have their official album launch party tonight at La Cigale in Paris.

    David shares, “Our new album, Together We Stand, was born as our response to what we see as forces that seek to divide us in the name of self-interest. After a short hiatus, the Abraham Inc project felt important to resurrect at this moment in time as we take a stand in the name of tolerance and humanistic values. David talks more about the album in this video.

    Buy Together We Stand on Bandcamp, Apple Music, Google Music, and CDBaby. Streaming is also available on Spotify, Youtube Music and Napster.

  • Oct 11, 2019Jazz

    Damien Sneed premieres new opera at Carnegie Hall

    Jazz piano, voice, and composition faculty member Damien Sneed will premiere his new opera, Our Journey: 400 Years from Africa to Jamestown, at Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage today at the Sphinx Organization Performance and Gala, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Robert F. Smith.

    MSM alumna J’Nai Bridges (BM ’09, Classical Voice) and fellow Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient will help bring to life this overture from his ground-breaking opera during the evening’s finale performance. Current student Ruben Rengel (PS ’20, Classical Violin) and alumnus Christopher Johnson (MM ’08, Orchestral Double Bass) are set to perform in the orchestra.

    Composed by Sneed, who also wrote the libretto, Our Journey: 400 Years from Africa to Jamestown, showcases musical styles from the African American diaspora from African rhythms to spirituals to gospel to jazz, all interwoven in the classical genre.

    Read the full press release here.

  • Oct 10, 2019Precollege

    Precollege will participate in Luna Lab for second year

    Last year, a Precollege chamber music group had the opportunity to work with Luna Composition Lab and will continue to collaborate for their 2019-2020 season.

    Luna Composition Lab addresses the gender gap in the field of classical music by inspiring young self-identifying female, nonbinary and gender non-conforming individuals to compose. Founded in 2016 by 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner Ellen Reid – the first composer to have been commissioned by Los Angeles’ four major classical music institutions – and 2019 Grammy nominee Missy Mazzoli – one of the first two women to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera – with NYC’s Kaufman Music Center, Luna Lab provides mentorship and performance opportunities to girls and young women from eighth grade through college freshmen.

    The culminating performance will be on April 29, 2020 at Merkin Hall.

    Read the full press release here.

  • Oct 8, 2019Percussion

    MSM Percussionists place at International Competition

    Last weekend, current student William Hopkins (BM ’21) and alumnus Yi Chen (BM ’19) competed in the Majaoja International Percussion Competition in Tampere, Finland.

    William, who represented the United States in the B Category (for contestants under 21 years of age), tied for first place. Yi was selected as a semifinalist in the A Category, where there was no age limit.

    Learn more about the Majaoja International Percussion Competition here.

  • Oct 7, 2019Voice

    Another MSM alum joins Phantom on Broadway

    Meghan Picerno (MM ’10, PS ’11), currently performing as Christine Daaé in the new World Tour of The Phantom of the Opera, will make her Broadway debut in the role Monday, October 14 according to a press release. Meghan previously originated the role of Christine in the North American premiere of Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom.

    She joins two other MSM alumni — Raquel Suarez (MM ’09, PS ’10) as Carlotta and Carlton Moe (MM ’15) as Ubaldo Piangi — in Broadway’s longest running show. Purchase tickets here.

  • Oct 4, 2019Precollege

    Precollege chamber group performs on From the Top

    The music group, “Kalico Quartet”, performs on Show 376 of the weekly NPR broadcast which will be released November 4, 2019 here.

    Kalico Quartet is comprised of three current MSM Precollege students and one graduate — Cheng Io Lo, violin (’19); Lena-Marie Stoger, violin; Kevin Wallace, viola; and Andrew Wallace, cello. Last season, Kalico Quartet won the 2018-2019 Precollege Chamber Music Competition.

  • Sep 30, 2019Voice

    Jorge Parodi conducts Frida at The Atlanta Opera

    Parodi, a vocal coach at MSM, will conduct the moving story of the iconic Mexican painter, Frida Kahlo. The production is directed by José María Condemi with music by Robert Xavier Rodriguez and will run for four performances October 5–13. Tickets and more information are available at The Atlanta Opera’s website.

    Later this season, Jorge will conduct Carmen at Opera Tampa and Moscow, Cheryomushki here at Manhattan School of Music.

  • Sep 30, 2019Piano

    International Piano Magazine praises Phillip Kawin’s Beethoven concerto

    Piano faculty member Phillip Kawin‘s latest recording receives a rave review in the September issue of the London-based International Piano Magazine. In the recording, Professor Kawin performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3 alongside the Russian National Orchestra and conductor Gerard Schwarz. The video was filmed in Moscow’s Rachmaninov Concert Hall and directed by Paul Carasco.

    International Piano reviewer Colin Clarke writes, “Phillip Kawin’s performances are always deeply considered: he follows in a lineage from Cortot and was influenced by Dora Zaslavsky Koch, a student of Bauer and Backhaus. Kawin’s reading of the Beethoven C minor concerto combines a strong grasp of structure with intense concentration on detail, as did his previously issued Appassionata.” Read the full review here.

    The Master Performers recording is available to purchase on DVD and Blu-ray via Amazon.

  • Sep 27, 2019Voice

    Alumna joins Oscar-winning cast of The Little Things

    Actress Sheila Houlahan (BM ’14) joins an all-star cast in the new Warner Brother’s film The Little Things, including Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto.

    Sheila’s previous credits include SyFy’s series Z Nation and The Wonderland Murders (2018).

    Read the full press release here.

  • Sep 27, 2019Jazz

    Jason Moran exhibition opens at the Whitney

    Jazz pianist and artist Jason Moran (BM ’97) celebrated the opening of his new exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art in NY, NY last week. The exhibition is centered around the physical history of jazz, and features collaborations with Kara Walker, Joan Jonas, and other figures in the art world. You can purchase tickets to the exhibition (running through January 2020) here.

    In a review by The New York Times, Jason shares, “When I think about all that has happened in those clubs, in those venues, with those audiences, with all the ephemera that is left behind — that tells a fuller picture of what the music is.” Read the full review and see photos of the exhibition here.

  • Sep 25, 2019Composition

    Alumnus nominated for Latin GRAMMY award

    Juan Pablo Contreras (MM ’12) has earned a Latin GRAMMY nomination in the Best Arrangement category for his album Mariachitlán! Since earning his Masters at Manhattan School of Music, Juan Pablo has become “one of the most prominent young composers of Latin America” (Milenio). His music is known for combining Western classical and Mexican folk music in a single soundscape, and has been performed by major orchestras such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico, the Mexico City and UNAM Philharmonics.

    Learn more about Juan Pablo Contreras by visiting his website,

  • Sep 24, 2019Voice

    Eight alumni perform in MetOpera’s Porgy and Bess

    Eight Manhattan School of Music alumni are performing in The Metropolitan Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess, which opened the season last night.

    Chorus members include Chanae Curtis (MM ’14)Jamet Pittman (PS ’97)Jonathan Tuzo (MM ’06)Helena Brown (MM ’14)Tesia Kwarteng (MM ’13)Nicole Joy Mitchell (MM ’04), and Jasmine Muhammad (MM ’12); Chanáe also makes her role debut at Annie and Justin Michael Austin (BM ’14, MM ’17) is covering the role of Jim.

    The New York Times says, “…the chorus gently eases into the music, beautifully adding a warm harmonic cushion.” They ‘sang the sad refrains of “Gone, Gone, Gone” with sighing lyricism and swelling fervor’ and ‘shifted readily into jubilee mode for the spiritual “Leavin’ for the Promised Land.”’ Read their full review here.

    The production runs through Oct. 16, and Jan. 8-Feb. 1

  • Sep 20, 2019Woodwinds

    Linda Chesis featured in Flute Talk magazine

    Woodwind Department Chair and Flute Faculty member Linda Chesis is on the cover of this month’s Flute Talk magazine! In this issue, Linda is interviewed by her former student (and MSM Precollege alumna) Joanna Lau.

    Of her teaching style, Professor Chesis shares, “I will address things very differently depending on a student’s strengths and weaknesses, and I think that is also what keeps it fresh and interesting for me.” Read the full article here.

  • Sep 20, 2019Woodwinds

    Pascal Archer wins NJ Symphony position

    Alumnus and Precollege faculty member Pascal Archer (MM ’06) recently won a one-year position as acting principal clarinet of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Pascal also serves as the principal clarinet of The Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra and NEPA Philharmonic, and he is the artistic director of the Exponential Ensemble. View Pascal’s bio and upcoming performances here.

  • Sep 19, 2019Composition

    Terence Blanchard makes opera history at The Met

    The Metropolitan Opera announced today that they will be staging their first opera by a black composer, a work by MSM Board of Trustees member Terence Blanchard (HonDMA ’17) as early as next season.

    The opera, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, premiered this summer at Opera Theater of St. Louis and is based on a memoir by Charles Blow. In his review of the St. Louis production, Anthony Tommasini wrote, “vocal lines flow from lyrical wistfulness to snappy declamations; dense big-band sonorities in the orchestra segue into lighter passages backed by a jazz rhythm section, and there are rousing evocations of gospel choruses at church, blues and, during a fraternity party, a rhythmic chorus of spoken words, finger snapping and dance steps.”

    Read the full article in The New York Times here.

  • Sep 18, 2019Strings

    Alumna joins Santa Fe Opera Orchestra

    Alumna Jennifer Best Takeda (MM ’02) will join the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra beginning in 2020. Jennifer serves as Assistant concertmaster of the Sarasota Orchestra and presently performs with the Sarasota Piano Quartet, EnsembleNewSRQ, Opera Tampa, St. Petersburg Opera and the Florida Orchestra.

  • Sep 17, 2019Composition

    Alumnus accepts Composition position at Ithaca College

    Fredrick Kaufman (BM ’59, MM ’60) recently accepted an Endowed Composition Chair for the year at Ithaca College. During his tenure at the college, they will premiere two of Kaufman’s pieces: The Essence of Franrances Past & Present in October and “Kaddish” Cello Concerto in February. Next year, classical guitar soloist Mesut Ozgen will premiere Kaufman’s Guitar Concerto at the 2020 International Guitar Conference in Miami.

    Learn more about Fredrick Kaufman by visiting his website here.

  • Sep 13, 2019Voice

    MSM Opera Theatre and Alumni featured in NYTimes Fall Preview

    Manhattan School of Music’s production of Martha is included in The New York Times not-to-miss Classical performances for the upcoming season — tickets are available here! MSM students and alumni performing in other productions are featured throughout the list, including:

    Anthony Roth Costanzo (MM ’08)
    J’Nai Bridges (BM ’09)
    Carol Wincec (BM ’71)
    Susan Graham (MM ’87, HonDMA ’08)
    Kirill Gerstein (BM ’99, MM ’00)
    George Manahan (BM ’73, MM ’76)
    Tobias Picker (BM ’77)
    Lisa E. Harris (MM ’04)
    Christopher Cerrone (BM’ 07)
    Ted Hearne (BM ’04)
    Brandon Jovanovich (’98)
    Anna Clyne (MM ’05)

    Read the full Fall Preview article here.

  • Sep 13, 2019Voice

    Alumni and faculty mentions in October Opera News

    Alumna Jeanine de Bique (BM ’06, MM ’08, PS ’09) is featured in Noteworthy & Now for making her San Francisco Opera debut. – pg 6

    Alumna and faculty member Catherine Malfitano (BM ’71) in “Scenes from the Life of a Diva” for her role as Prima Donna in Tosca with the Aix-en-Provence Festival. – pg 40

    MSM faculty member “Conductor Jorge Parodi led with verve, maintaining good eye coordination.” Chautauqua’s Figaro! (90210) – pg 43

    Blake Friedman (MM ’09) “relished opportunities for diminuendos and softer dynamic effects.” – Chautauqua’s Barbiere di Sivigilia – pg 43

    Corigliano (’63, HonDMA ’92)’s music contains rousing, souring melodies, brimming with emotion.” Glimmerglass’ production of The Ghosts of Versailles

  • Sep 5, 2019Conducting

    Kent Tritle featured on WIRED Masterminds

    MSM’s Director of Choral Activities Kent Tritle explains all that goes into being a professional conductor in this latest episode of WIRED Masterminds, a series in which experts demonstrate and explain key parts of their craft. From the concepts of legato, marcato, fortissimo, and more, Kent breaks down what exactly his hand movements mean when leading a group of musicians.

    Professor Tritle will conduct MSM’s Chamber Choir this November in Greenfield Hall. Click here for more information.

  • Sep 4, 2019Jazz

    MSM faculty interviewed by All About Jazz

    Jazz composition and music history professor Edward Green discusses Duke Ellington with Dr. Douglas Groothuis in the extended interview Delighting in The Duke, available to read here. Dr. Green is a renowned Duke Ellington connoisseur, having written an Editor’s Introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Duke Ellington.

    Later this month, Professor Green’s orchestral suite Music for Shakespeare will be performed in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Asuncion, Paraguay under the baton of Francisco Varela.

  • Sep 1, 2019Precollege

    Precollege students attend prestigious Vail Jazz Workshop

    Precollege students Natalie Barbieri and Anton Kot are attending the Vail Jazz Workshop and featured in this article, where they talk about the start of their careers and their experiences in the week-long intensive for the nation’s top teen musicians. The Vail Jazz Workshop focuses on ear-learning and improvisation, culminating in the Annual Vail Jazz Party alongside their workshop mentors. Precollege alumnus and current college student Vittorio Stropoli (BM ’23) was also in attendance at the workshop.

  • Aug 30, 2019Collaborative Piano

    Alumni join Steinway Artist Roster

    Alumna Myra Huang (MM ’01, Accompanying) and Precollege alumna Chloe Flower were recently added to Steinway & Sons’ prestigious Artist Roster. For decades, Steinway & Sons has cultivated special relationships with pianists from every genre. From Lang Lang to Diana Krall to Billy Joel to such legends as Cole Porter, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Arthur Rubinstein.

    Learn more about Chloe (left) and Myra (right) on their Steinway Artist pages.

    Myra Huang Artist Page

    Chloe Flower Artist Page

  • Aug 14, 2019Voice

    14 Alumni featured in Opera News September Issue

    The MSM community was well represented in the latest edition of Opera News. Alumni featured in the issue include:

    Tenor Nicholas Phan (’02)
    Alondra de la Parra (BM ’06, MM ’08)
    J’Nai Bridges (BM ’08)
    Yunpeng Wang (MM ’13)
    Tobias Picker (BM ’77)
    Terence Blanchard (MSM Trustee)
    Devon Guthrie (BM ’08)
    Philippe L’Esperance (MM ’17)
    Christopher Allen (BM ’08 , conducting)
    William Guanbo Su (BM ’17)
    Jessica Fishenfeld (MM ’15)
    Brandon Jovanovich (’98)
    Amanda Crider MM ’01)
    Lisa Chavez (MM ’04)

  • Aug 13, 2019Musical Theatre

    MSM Musical Theatre students perform in sold-out Edinburgh Festival

    Four MSM Musical Theatre students recently performed in Edinburgh International Festival’s concert production of West Side Story.

    David Gabriel Lerner (BM ’20) shares: “I am trying to find the right words that best fit the experience. Performing in The Usher Hall, in a featured role, to sold out audiences was surreal. My MSM peers — Sofia Faus (BM ’20)Jared Johnson (BM ’21)Paul Hernandez (BM ’20) — and I were provided with comfortable housing, transportation, an honorarium, and an unforgettable experience that I will hold dear to my heart. This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

  • Aug 12, 2019Jazz

    Jazz student makes Birdland debut

    Rico Jones (BM ’20) made his Birdland Jazz Club debut alongside David Virelles, Kush Abadey, and Joe Martin last month. Earlier this year he won first prize in the Vandoren Emerging Artist Competition, and over the summer he participated in the 2019 Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center under the direction of MSM alumnus Jason Moran (BM ’97).

    Learn more about Rico and view his upcoming gigs on his website.

  • Aug 12, 2019Voice

    Darnell Abraham (MM ’13) to play George Washington in Hamilton

    The Manhattan School of Music alumnus will officially succeed Isiah Johnson in the famous role. Darnell has been a member of the Hamilton Company in San Francisco since it opened earlier this year in Puerto Rico. He will begin performances in San Francisco beginning tomorrow, August 13.

    His previous credits include The Color Purple revival and Ragtime. Read Darnell’s full bio by visiting his website here.

  • Aug 8, 2019Collaborative Piano

    Gordon Schermer plays master class for Renée Fleming

    Alumnus Gordon Schermer (MM ’10, Accompanying) joined the music staff of Santa Fe Opera earlier this summer, where he accompanied the famous soprano’s master class. His next projects at Santa Fe include Puccini’s La bohème and the world premiere of The Thirteenth Child (libretto by faculty member David Starobin).

    Purchase tickets to these productions here.

  • Aug 8, 2019Voice

    Alumnus wins Song Prize at Cardiff Singer Competition

    Tenor Mingjie Lei (MM ’13) won the 2019 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World’s final round of competition with a performance of works by Fauré, Rachmaninov, Liszt, and Lin. Lei adds this latest win to a list of others, including the Neue Stimmen International Competition and ARD International Music Competition.

    Learn more about Mingjie Lei and view his upcoming performances on his website.

  • Aug 7, 2019Piano

    Piano student makes Steinway Hall debut

    Jason Flowers (BM ’19, MM ’21), student of professor Phillip Kawin, will perform at the famous hall as part of the Classical Bridge Festival’s Young Artists Concert on Saturday, August 10th at 1:00pm.

    Jason will play a work by Samuel Barber and shares, “I am excited about performing at such an esteemed concert hall in the heart of midtown!”

    Click here for tickets and more information.