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About & FAQs

Kaufman Music Center's Face the Music is a dynamic youth ensemble dedicated to studying and performing music by living composers.

Registration is always open to young musicians age 12-18!
For info, email facethemusic@kaufmanmusiccenter.org or call 212 501 3360.

Read about Face the Music in the New York Times.

Face the Music is Kaufman Music Center’s contemporary music education program for teenagers, and the country’s only youth orchestra dedicated to post-genre music by living composers. Praised for “stunning performances” by the New York Times, Face the Music features a collection of ensembles including a chamber orchestra, a jazz big-band, an improvisation collective, string quartets and mixed chamber-ensembles, all dedicated to studying and performing experimental, new-classical, new-jazz & avant-garde music written exclusively by living composers.

Face the Music members have unparalleled performance opportunities at high-profile NYC spaces like Merkin Hall, National Sawdust, Roulette, The Jazz Gallery and BAMcafé as well as experimental performance spaces and schools. Face the Music also offers mentorship, support and unique promotional opportunities to developing young performers and composers through its unparalleled network of professional contemporary musicians, organizations, media and venues. In partnership with Luna Composition Lab, Face the Music mentors young female composers.

Rehearsals take place on Sundays during the school year.
Seating auditions for the 2018-19 year: Sun, Sep 9, 16 & 23, 2018
Rehearsals begin Sun, Sep 23, 2018.
See the full rehearsal schedule.

General FAQs

Who can participate in Face the Music?
Music students ages 12-18 who want to explore cool and exciting new music, while creating and collaborating with some of the biggest names in contemporary music today. At least three years of instrumental experience are recommended. String players should have completed Suzuki Book 5. Composers at all levels, including beginners, are welcome.

How can I become part of Face the Music?
Registration is open throughout the school year. Seating auditions for the 2018-19 year will be held on Sun, Sep 9, 16 & 23, 2018. Rehearsals begin Sun, Sep 23, 2018. Students are placed within the program based on interest, enthusiasm, commitment and skill. For information and registration, call 212 501 3360, email facethemusic@kaufmanmusiccenter.org, or download a printable registration form.

What kind of music does Face the Music play?
Face the Music plays experimental, new-classical, new-jazz and avant-garde music written exclusively by living composers. The 2017-1 8 season repertoire included works by Maria Schneider, Greg Saunier, John King, Rhiannon Giddens, Sean Friar, Rudresh Mahanthappa and young composers in the Luna Composition Lab mentorship program for young women composers. Face the Music also performs works by its own member-composers. Students participate in ensembles including a chamber orchestra, a jazz big-band, an improvisation collective, string quartets and mixed chamber-ensembles.

Where is Face the Music, and what kind of time commitment is required?
Face the Music is based at Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School high School in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Complex on Amsterdam Ave. and West 66th St. on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. All ensembles rehearse weekly on Sundays throughout the school year.

I’m a student composer.  What kinds of opportunities could I have with Face the Music?
Face the Music is committed to studying and performing music written by its own student composer-performers! [Need copy for Call for Scores program] Student composers are also invited to apply to Luna Composition Lab, a mentorship program for young women composers that is a partnership between Kaufman Music Center and composers Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid.

What is the tuition? Is financial aid available?

  • Performance Program - $600
    The core experience at Face the Music. All members participate in this and play in our Large Ensembles and perform roughly four times a year. Members may also perform in any number of smaller ensembles like our Advanced Projects and also work on music created by their fellow student composer-performers. Special Music School High School students receive a 25% discount and pay only $450 plus the $40 registration fee. SMS K-8 students pay the $600 tuition, plus the $40 registration fee.

  • Composition (add-on) - $160
    Face the Music is committed to studying and performing music written by its own student composer-performers! Students applying to the Composition program should also participate in the Performance Program. Students may write a piece for a Face the Music ensemble and have the opportunity to develop that piece in a laboratory environment. Composers at all levels, including beginners, are welcome. Instrumentalists who have never composed before but have always wanted to can use this as an opportunity to compose their first piece of music!

  • String Quartets Program (add-on) - $400
    In partnership with a celebrated professional quartet, qualified students participate in string quartet ensembles and are coached weekly throughout the season by NYC contemporary music professionals. Students have multiple performance opportunities at high-level venues including Merkin Hall, National Sawdust and Roulette. This year, student quartets will work with ETHEL, lauded as “extraordinarily skilled, passionate musicians” by the New York Times and called an “avatar of ‘post-classical music...vital and brilliant” by the New Yorker.

    Scholarships are available. For financial aid information, call 212 501 3360.
    Financial aid form

FAQs for Current Students & Parents

How do I audition for Face the Music?
Seating auditions for the 2018-19 school year will be held on Sunday, September 9, 16 & 23, 2018 at Kaufman Music Center’s Special Music School High School in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Educational Complex on Amsterdam Ave. and 66th St. Unlike traditional “seating auditions,” these are really meant to be more like informal playing-introductions, and are a fantastic opportunity to meet and play for our principal coaches and conductors. To sign up for a time to come in and play for us, please fill out this form.

When do rehearsals begin for the 2018-19 school year?
Rehearsals begin on Sunday, September 23, 2018 and take place weekly throughout the school year.

What do I need to bring to rehearsals?
Your instrument, parts, a pencil and a positive attitude.

Where can I find the rehearsal and performance schedules?
Rehearsal Schedule
Performance Calendar

How do I know which room we’ll be rehearsing in at Special Music School High School?
The schedule and location are posted on a whiteboard outside the black box theater at SMS High School.

Who do I contact if I’m going to be late or need to miss a rehearsal?
Contact the Program Coordinator at facethemusic@kaufmanmusiccenter.org or 212 501 3360.

I’m a parent/family member of a Face the Music student and would like to volunteer. How can I help?
Volunteers are needed for transporting equipment to and from performances, helping with check-in at venues, assisting with recruitment efforts, and reaching out to potential venues, artists and collaborators. To discuss opportunities, please contact the Program Coordinator at facethemusic@kaufmanmusiccenter.org or  212 501 3360. Volunteers working with students will need to have a background check as per Kaufman Music Center policy.

I have a miscellaneous question. Who should I contact?
Is it about scheduling? Logistics? Minute details? Email the Program Coordinator at facethemusic@kaufmanmusiccenter.org or ask Vasu in person at rehearsal on Sundays.

I have a cool idea for a project.
Awesome!  Share it with us!  We’re totally open to new ideas and trying new things, and want to make this experience as exciting for you as possible!

FAQs for Collaborators

I’m a professional musician interested in either collaborating with or coaching ensembles. How do I get involved?
Come see us in action at a Sunday rehearsal during the school year! Contact Vasu Panicker at vpanicker@kaufmanmusiccenter.org or 212 501 3360.

I’m a composer and would love to work with the Face the Music students on some of my work. Who should I contact?
Contact the Program Coordinator at facethemusic@kaufmanmusiccenter.org or  212 501 3360.

I would like to host Face the Music at my venue. Who should I reach out to?
Contact the Program Coordinator at facethemusic@kaufmanmusiccenter.org or  212 591 3360.