New Class At Manhattan School of Music
Generations have enjoyed the permanent products of philanthropy, and sensitive recipients of such beneficence wish that they had had a chance to express personal thanks to the Carnegies, the Medicis, and other historic patrons of the arts throughout the ages. Members of New York's musical community, including a formidable squadron from the press corps and media, had an opportunity of doing just that when the Manhattan School of Music unveiled its newly expanded facilities in February 2007.
Recently appointed president, composer Robert Sirota who has now been aboard for 18 months, led a tour of the new premises, beginning in the Peter Jay Sharp President's Residence located atop the 19-story G. Chris and SungEun Andersen Hall with magnificent views of the Hudson River and much of the city. The building itself was inaugurated in 2001 and incorporates a mixture of academic, residential and office functions, including 12 floors of student residences, campus store, box office, music library, and no fewer than 58 practice rooms. The Residence was conceived to accommodate receptions and other public functions, and graduate student Krysty Swann, a mezzo with a promising future, gave the audience an impressive sampling, accompanied by her colleague Charity Wicks, of how music sounds in this opulent space.
Next stop on the tour was the William R. and Irene D. Miller Recital Hall, an intimate jewel box space of 1775 square feet with seating for 153. It provides immediacy for both performer and listener, with its thrust stage flanked by seating platforms at the same level. The hall is outfitted with a sophisticated lighting system, audio amplification, and multimedia projection and is linked to the School's central recording studio. Inaugurating the aural qualities of the hall were students from the Precollege Division (cellist Julian Langford [age 14] and pianist Drew Petersen ), as well as post-graduate violinist Amaury Coeytaus, and Josu de Solaun.
President Sirota then led the way to The Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Performance Space, an extraordinarily flexible "white box" space that lends itself to events ranging from orchestral rehearsals and opera workshops to musical theater, chamber music, and jazz performances. Sirota explained that the sound had been tested in several areas of the 2080 square foot premises that can accommodate up to 215 persons, and found to be absolutely balanced, no matter where the sound emanated. His explanation was immediately put to the test by a stunning performance from the MSM Student Chamber Jazz Ensemble playing selections from "the Great American Songbook."
A short panel discussion and question-and-answer session also provided an opportunity of meeting and chatting with some of the persons who made these magnificent facilities possible, not only with their charitable giving but with their ongoing hard work, countless meetings, and insightful supervision: David A. Rahm, chairman of the Board of Trustees, Bill and Irene Miller, and Alan and Joan Ades. Their vision has enriched not only the Manhattan School of Music but the musical community of New York City and, by extension, of the entire country.
Photography by Chuck Choi.