Bronx street named after jazz legend and MSM alumnus Donald Byrd

By Bobby Sanabria

September 9, 2017 was a significant day in the borough of music as the late, great Donald Byrd (DP ’58, Trumpet; BM ’62, Trumpet; MM ’63, Music Education) was honored with a street named after him in the Bronx.

Donald Byrd, the legendary jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, and NEA Jazz Master, moved from Detroit to the Bronx in the mid-1950s to pursue a Master of Music Education degree at Manhattan School of Music. He passed away on February 4, 2013 in Dover, Delaware, at age 80.

During the early years of his career, Byrd taught in the Bronx public school system. One of his students was Willie Colon, a young trombonist and soon-to-be salsa star. While teaching public school, Byrd grew into a legendary figure in the New York City jazz scene.

Later, Byrd mentored and helped establish The Blackbyrds, a rhythm and blues and jazz-funk fusion group. The Blackbyrds would go on to create influential crossover recordings that continue to be sampled by DJs all over the world.

To date, Donald Byrd is the fourth Bronx jazz legend to be honored with a street naming. Previous honorees include vocalist Maxine Sullivan, pianist Elmo Hope, and trumpeter Henry “Red” Allen. Additional anticipated namings will bring much-deserved recognition to the Bronx’s rich jazz history.

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MSM Students and Alumni Shine at the Aspen Music Festival

This summer, numerous recent graduates and current students of Manhattan School of Music’s voice program appeared in high-level operatic performances at the Aspen Music Festival.

A summer of study at the Aspen Opera Center offers young singers a variety of performance opportunities, including two fully-staged operas, opera scenes, master classes, and chamber recitals.

Aspen Opera Center’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata featured several current MSM students and recent alumni in prominent roles. Anna Dugan (MM ’16) made her role debut as Violetta, and both SeokJong Baek (MM ’18) and Sol Jin (MM ’15) appeared as Germont. Sol Jin will return to Houston Grand Opera Studio as a young artist this fall.

Anna Dugan in MSM’s 2015 production of The Dangerous Liaisons

La Clemenza di Tito, conducted by Jane Glover (a recent guest conductor at MSM), gave two singers from Manhattan School of Music the opportunity to revisit familiar roles. Abigail Shapiro (MM ’17, PS ’18) sang the role of Vitellia, and Hayan Kim (MM ’17) appeared as Servilia.

Both singers had previously appeared in same roles in MSM’s Fall 2016 production of the opera, and the two even wore the same costumes designed by Tracy Dorman. Brian Michael Moore (MM ’17) covered the title role. Following the Aspen Music Festival, Moore will return Los Angeles for his second season in LA Opera’s Young Artist Program.

Abigail Shapiro as Vitellia in MSM’s 2016 production of La Clemenza di Tito

Several MSM singers appeared in Aspen Opera Center’s scenes program. Most notably, SeokJong Baek gave an astounding performance of “Nedda! Silvio!” from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Tenor Yang Chen (MM ’17) and soprano Caroline Dunigan (BM ’14) appeared in scenes programs, concerts, and in the opera chorus.

Pianist Jonathan Gmeinder (MM ’16) returned to the Aspen Opera Center this summer as a Fellowship Pianist. This fall, he will join the prestigious Houston Grand Opera Studio as a young artist focusing on vocal accompaniment and coaching.

Many Manhattan School of Music students spend all or part of their summers at festivals, learning from new teachers and performing with new colleagues. Others choose to travel, visit family, or work.

We hope that everyone had a productive summer, and we look forward to greeting all Manhattan School of Music students next week!

 

Top photo: from MSM’s 2016 production of La Clemenza di Tito

MSM student “Talking Circles” rooted in Native American tradition

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Report by Rosalind Zhang

Earlier this month, 16 MSM students attended the first annual Talking Circles Retreat hosted by the Department of Student Affairs at the YMCA Greenkill Retreat Center in Huguenot, New York.

The gathering is rooted in the Native American tradition — specifically that of the Mi’kmaq people of Canada — who used the Talking Circle as a method for solving interpersonal problems (more photos below).

During their time at the retreat, the MSM students took part in various activities to generate dialogue and leadership on issues such as diversity and social justice.

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PANEL DISCUSSION at Manhattan School of Music on October 25 “Orchestras: Today and Beyond”

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A Featured Event of the 1st Annual Manhattan School of Music / Detroit Symphony Orchestra CONDUCTORS’ PROJECT

A panel discussion on Tuesday Oct 25 at MSM with leaders and members of several US orchestras will look at the orchestral world today, and where things could be heading tomorrow.

During the event – hosted by MSM’s Center for Music Entrepreneurship (CME) and part of the 1st annual Manhattan School of Music / Detroit Symphony Orchestra CONDUCTORS’ PROJECT —  the panelists will share thoughts on the evolving roles and expectations of musicians and administrators working in professional music organizations.

“Over the nearly fifty years I’ve been in the orchestral world, I’ve seen significant changes in the way musicians and administrators approach their jobs,” comments panel participant Detroit Symphony Music Director Leonard Slatkin who is also MSM’s recently appointed Distinguished Visiting Artist in Conducting and Orchestral Studies.

He’ll be joined by Matthew VanBesien, President of the New York Philharmonic;  Howard Herring, President and CEO of the New World Symphony (MM ’78) and Carl Schiebler, Orchestra Personnel Manager at the New York Philharmonic —  as well as MSM alumni Loretta O’Sullivan (BM ’75, cello),Yoobin Son (PS ’10 OP Flute/AD ’11 Flute) and Colin Williams (’97, trombone).

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