Back to School: the ubiquitous phrase suggests the end of summer fun (and summer music festivals)-time to get serious and back to work here at MSM.

Now that we're fully back in the swing of things, I'd like to offer a few ideas and some fresh perspectives. Whether you are a first-year or returning student, you've passed the rigorous audition process to enter Manhattan School of Music, which means you are, undoubtedly, a serious person. I imagine, too, that you've been serious about music throughout the summer months. For the dedicated musicians who form our student body, dedication and accomplishment are serious fun.

I hope, sincerely, that you found time to relax and enjoy yourself over the past few months. Rest is key to reinvigoration. The faculty and staff found time to take vacations and enjoy summer living, but we've also been busy preparing for your return, and change is everywhere at MSM. Enrollment is up (905 students this Fall), and the scaffolding is down. Yes, we discovered an pool of extraordinary talent in our audition process last spring - your pride in being part of this special, rarefied community would be understandable. While there is much work still to be done, the physical surroundings have been improved and renewed.

The façade of the main building is open and visible, once again. For those of you who live or visit Andersen Hall, you undoubtedly noticed the Andersen Hall Lobby Terrace, with its new benches and plantings, a great place to gather in nice weather and get to know your fellow students from near and far. We begin work on the façade of Andersen Hall next, and soon will engage an architectural firm to begin planning the full restoration of Borden Auditorium. The sleek interiors of two new elevators in our main building have certainly registered on your radar screen-as have, I hope, the speed and efficiency with which they get you to your studies more quickly! No one has time to waste these days, least of all in New York. All great institutions of higher learning evolve, physically, over time, and MSM is no exception. It can take a while to learn the layout of our buildings, but a comprehensive new system of signage we began installing over the summer should help.  

We're looking at everything, and though it will take time, and ever-important financial development, we have a plan, not only for the physical plant, but for academic evolution, because MSM fully intends to remain at the cutting edge of postsecondary music education in America in our second hundred years. Did you know that the milestone of our centennial is just a few years away? We're thinking about issues ranging from installing an environmentally correct, energy and cost-saving lighting system, institution-wide, to expanding programs in underserved musical forms. I'll be talking more about that in the not-too-distant future.

Manhattan School of Music has survived and thrived beautifully, though somewhat organically, for nearly a century. New York and the world, however, are very different places today than in 1918 when our doors opened for the first time. Now is the time to pursue a new vision and to lay the groundwork for the next century of growth. But the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and I will worry about that, while you hit the books, practice rooms, studios, rehearsal halls, and computers, as you enter or continue your MSM journey.

Welcome and welcome back!

Best wishes for a great beginning,


President's Notes Archive

November/December 2013


James Gandre, President
917 493 4477

President Gandre's Biography