Manhattan School of Music

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Manhattan School of Music
Msm seal med.gif
Logo of Manhattan School of Music
MottoLatin: Macte virtute sic itur ad astra
Motto in English
Those who excel, thus reach the stars.
PresidentJames Gandre
ProvostJoyce Griggs
Address130 Claremont Avenue, New York City, New York, 10027, United States

Manhattan School of Music (MSM) is a music conservatory located on the Upper West Side of New York City. The school offers degrees on the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels in the areas of classical and jazz performance and composition.

Founded in 1917, the school is located on Claremont Avenue in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City, adjacent to Broadway and West 122nd Street (Seminary Row). The MSM campus was originally the home to The Institute of Musical Art (which later became Juilliard) until Juilliard migrated to the Lincoln Center area of Midtown Manhattan. The property was originally owned by the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum until The Institute of Musical Art purchased it in 1910.[1] The campus of Columbia University resides close by, where it has been since 1895. Many of the students live in the school's residence hall, Andersen Hall. As of 2011, 75% of the students come from outside New York State and 31% come from outside the United States.


Entrance to the John C. Borden Auditorium

Manhattan School of Music was founded in 1917–1918, by the pianist and philanthropist Janet D. Schenck, as the Neighborhood Music School. Initially located at the Union Settlement Association on East 104th St in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood, the school moved into a brownstone building at East 105th St.[2] Pablo Casals and Harold Bauer were among the first of many distinguished artists who offered guidance to the school. Eventually, its name was changed to Manhattan School of Music.

In 1943, the artistic and academic growth of the school resulted in a charter amendment to grant the bachelor of music degree. Two subsequent amendments authorized the offering in 1947 of the master of music degree and, in 1974, the degree of doctor of musical arts. In 1956, Dr. Schenck retired and Metropolitan Opera baritone John Brownlee was appointed director, a title later revised to president. President Brownlee initiated the idea of relocating the school to the Morningside Heights neighborhood; his death occurred only months before his efforts were realized. In 1969, George Schick, Metropolitan Opera conductor, accompanist, and opera coach, succeeded Brownlee as president and led the school's move to its present location. He created the opera program, while all other major school functions were managed by Senior Director Stanley Bednar.

John O. Crosby, founder and general director of the Santa Fe Opera, was appointed president in 1976. He was followed by Gideon W. Waldrop, who was appointed in 1986, and Peter C. Simon in 1989. On July 1, 1992, Marta Casals Istomin was named president, a position which she held until October 2005 when she retired.

Dr. Robert Sirota, former director of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, took over the presidency in 2005.[3] He was succeeded by James Gandre, formerly of Roosevelt University, effective May 2013.[4]

Notable teachers and administrators[edit]

Manhattan School of Music, facing Claremont Avenue

Notable students and alumni[edit]


Manhattan School of Music offers undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs. Classical majors, jazz majors, Pinchas Zukerman Performance Program majors, cross majors from Barnard College at Columbia, and most recently musical theater majors all take part at the conservatory.

Students can receive the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Music (BM) – voice, instrumental, performance, composition, jazz performance, and musical theater
  • Master of Music (MM)[6] – voice, instrumental performance, instrumental and vocal, accompanying, conducting, orchestral performance, composition, contemporary performance, jazz performance, and jazz composition; dual degree option (MM-EdM) available through Teachers College, Columbia University[7]
  • Doctor of Musical Arts[6] (DMA) – voice, instrumental performance, accompanying, composition, jazz arts advancement, and choral conducting
  • Professional Studies Certificate – voice, instrumental performance, orchestral performance, and composition
  • Artist Diploma – voice, instrumental performance, and accompanying

Musical theater[edit]

Manhattan School of Music's musical theater program was the first-ever independent music conservatory in New York (and only the second in the country) to offer a musical theater degree program. The program was created by Luis Perez, and has an artistic advisory committee that includes Broadway stars such as Victoria Clark, Joanna Gleason, Norm Lewis, Susan Stroman, Tommy Tune, Kelli O'Hara, Ted Chapin, Bebe Neuwrith, Christine Ebersole, Graciela Daniele, James Naughton, Shuler Hensley, Ron Raines and more.

Created in 2016, the program is already being considered one of the top MT programs in the nation with a current acceptance rate of about 1.6% (based on the 3000 applicants in each 2015-2016, 2016-2017 audition seasons thus far).

Following the 2017-2018 academic year, Perez retired from his position as associate dean and chair of the Musical Theater Department. The program is now under the direction of Liza Gennaro, former professor at Indiana University and daughter of Tony-award winning choreographer Peter Gennaro.

A Musical Theater student performs in the 2016 Inaugural Music Musical Theater Fall Showcase


Liza Gennaro, David Loud, Andrew Gerle,[8] Mana Allen, Sara Brians, Enrique Brown, Andrea Burns, Claudia Catania, Marshall L. Davis Jr., Beverly Emmons, Peter Flynn, Andy Gale, David Gallo, Randy Graff, Andrea Green, Yehuda Hyman, Ebone VanityZo Johnson, Sue Makkoo, Sam McKelton, Robin Morse, Ross Patterson, Evan Rees, Laura Sametz, Shane Schag, Blake Segal, Bob Stillman, Eleanor Taylor, Rachel Tucker, and Brandon Vukovic.[9]

Instrumental performing ensembles[edit]

Since 1999, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and Manhattan School of Music have partnered to offer a free summer music program for students who attend New York City's public schools.

Manhattan School of Music offers a wide variety of live audience performance experiences for its students. There are three major orchestras: The MSM Symphony, the Philharmonia, and the Chamber Sinfonia. In addition, many smaller ensembles are assembled for orchestral chamber music. The MSM Wind Ensemble also performs throughout the year. The Jazz Arts program contains various ensembles, such as the Jazz Philharmonic (full jazz big band with full orchestra), the Jazz Orchestra, Concert Jazz Band, Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, and Chamber Jazz Ensemble. Tactus, the ensemble for contemporary chamber music, is made up of graduate students in the school's Contemporary Performance Program (CPP). The school also holds an annual concerto competition with which the winner is offered the opportunity to perform with the Symphony Orchestra.

Performance venues[edit]

Manhattan School contains multiple performance spaces, each dedicated to separate ensemble requirements. The largest is Neidorff-Karpati Hall (formerly John C. Borden Auditorium), where all orchestral and large jazz ensemble concerts are held. The hall is currently undergoing a major renovation.[10] The smaller Greenfield Recital Hall and Miller Recital Hall are used for solo and small ensemble recitals, especially for graduation-required recitals. The Ades Performance Space is among the newest of MSM's venues, and is used to present everything from fully staged operas to contemporary chamber music. The newly dedicated Carla Bossi-Comelli Studio on the seventh floor is a multipurpose rehearsal and performance space which was formerly a dance studio; other smaller performance spaces include the Myers Recording Studio, Mikowsky Recital Hall, and Pforzheimer Hall.


  1. ^ "Historical Significance, Historic Morningside Heights". Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  2. ^ "Manhattan School of Music: Timeline". Retrieved October 31, 2012.
  3. ^ "Composer Robert Sirota".
  4. ^ "Manhattan School of Music Names New President". The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  5. ^ F. Paul Driscoll (December 2015). "Sound Bites: Andrea Carroll". Opera News.
  6. ^ a b "Admissions — Graduate Studies".
  7. ^ "Music Education & Performance Dual Degree".
  8. ^ Music, Manhattan School of. "Manhattan School of Music > FacultyProfile". Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  9. ^ Music, Manhattan School of. "Musical Theatre Brochure". Retrieved 2017-10-03.
  10. ^ Music, Manhattan School of. "Renovation". Retrieved 2017-10-03.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°48′44″N 73°57′41″W / 40.81222°N 73.96138°W / 40.81222; -73.96138