Make Them Hear You


  • <p>Tamar Greene singing “Make Them Hear You” from <em>Ragtime</em></p>

Dear Friends,

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we are stronger and more resilient than we ever knew. This year allowed us to flex our innovative muscles, forge new partnerships, and create opportunities we never thought would be possible. We proved – once again – that Kaufman Music Center is an unstoppable force.

Our 2020–21 Impact Report is a celebration of our community and the inspiring stories that emerged from the most difficult circumstances. Your support has made it all possible. I hope you take great pride in what we have achieved together.

Thank you for helping us keep hope alive and the music playing.

Sincerely yours,

Orli Shaham
Chair, Board of Trustees

Kate Sheeran
Executive Director

Musical Storefronts

Pianist Peter Dugan and violinist/vocalist Charles Yang, 2021–22 Artists-in-Residence.

This winter and spring, Kaufman Music Center partnered with the Alphadyne Foundation to create Musical Storefronts – our pop-up performance series that brought live music back to New York at a time when it seemed impossible. Concerts featured dynamic performers from across the city, including chamber groups, soloists, jazz musicians, Broadway performers, and Merkin Hall artists.

With additional partnership from Jay Dweck, Milford Management, Milstein Properties, Steinway & Sons, the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, and Breads Bakery, Musical Storefronts provided work for 202 artists severely impacted by the cancellation of live performances and brought 107 free, safe concert experiences to more than 31,000 passersby, who stopped to listen and experience a moment of joy.

“Companies and organizations in this time period have reacted in one of two ways: one is to retrench…and the other is to reach out and say, okay, we are going to find ways to help artists.”

—Kamala Sankaram, 2021–22 Artist-in-Residence

“Kaufman Music Center has been such an important part of our musical family for many years now and especially this year. They have provided us with an outlet to present various concerts – both for the Center and elsewhere – since they are such a safe home for music during this time.”

—JACK Quartet, Avery Fisher Career Grant-winning ensemble

Special Music School

Special Music School High School students Aiden Velazquez and Naomi Mathewson performing for senior citizens at the Goddard Riverside Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center.

In partnership with the New York City Department of Education, Special Music School is the city’s only K-12 public school that teaches music as a core subject. The School combines comprehensive, forward-thinking music instruction with a rigorous academic curriculum, making all the benefits of an in-depth music education accessible to young New Yorkers of all backgrounds, at no cost to students and their families.

During the 2020–21 academic year, Special Music School students worked with a range of professional musicians, including Kaufman Music Center 2020–21 Artists-in-Residence Lisa Bielawa, Conrad Tao, and Seth Parker Woods, to present world premieres, explore solo and chamber repertoire, and more.

Through Special Music School High School, Kaufman Music Center continues to level the playing field, opening doors for students from diverse communities: 53% are students of color, 34% come from low-income homes, and 67% are first-generation musicians. In June 2021, Special Music School celebrated 100% graduation and college acceptance rates for the fifth consecutive year.

“I cannot express how thankful I am for your support to me and to Special Music School. I come from a place, a situation where I thought no one would ever care about me or my love for music. But now that I have graduated from a music school and I know that people like you care, I feel so grateful and inspired to not only follow my dreams but to, in the future, inspire and make someone believe in themselves, just like how you made me believe in myself.”

—Ana Maria Griffin Morimoto, Special Music School graduate

Lucy Moses School

Lucy Moses School faculty member Sam Marchan with a violin student.

Lucy Moses School is Manhattan’s largest community arts school, where adults and children of all ages can choose from a wide range of music, dance, and theater classes, as well as individual lessons with some of the city’s best teachers. Students of all levels – from beginners to experienced musicians – are welcomed and celebrated.

Last year, Lucy Moses School helped nearly 2,000 students stay connected with their peers and teachers. Students worked with our 125 exceptional faculty members to present  55 digital concerts and 37 live recitals at Merkin Hall. During the pandemic, 151 of our students picked up a new instrument!

“We are very thankful for the professionalism and care that the Lucy Moses School staff and faculty have shown for our children – even more than usual during these uneasy times for all of us. Your School’s music lessons are very special.”

—Lucy Moses School parent

Lucy Moses School Jazz Program Director Roni Ben-Hur jams with an Adult Division student.

“When you’re all playing together it’s just wonderful. And sharing that is very rewarding.”

—Adult Division student

Merkin Hall

Broadway stars Nikki Renée Daniels and Jeff Kready perform in Merkin Hall at a Kaufman Connects performance that streamed to our community.

Kaufman Music Center’s Merkin Hall presents enlightening, adventurous performances for curious audiences, ranging from classical to Broadway to trailblazing artists who are redefining what it means to be making music right now.

The Hall is an epicenter of vibrant musical experiences in New York City. In 2020–21, Merkin Hall went digital, presenting favorites like Broadway Close Up, What Makes It Great?, Ecstatic Music, and Tuesday Matinees – and developing brand-new series like Piano Dialogues.

Our 200+ free and low-cost digital performances – and 25+ presenting partners – made Merkin Hall programming more accessible than ever to audiences outside of New York City. We continued to present some of the music world’s most exciting performers and composers, including pianist and recipient of the Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists, Adam Tendler, and the Grammy Award-nominated Aizuri Quartet. And we reached thousands of new audience members through free streaming initiatives like our Fast Forward student concert series and Performance as Process with Conrad Tao. In the fall of 2020, we put on safe, outdoor performances with our students in collaboration with the Brooklyn Public Library, giving the world premiere of 2020–21 Artist-in-Residence Lisa Bielawa’s Voters’ Broadcast on the first day of early voting in New York City.


The acclaimed jazz vocalist and songwriter Gabrielle Stravelli performs at Broadway Close Up in Merkin Hall.

From the classroom to the concert stage – and even to the home computer – Theater@Kaufman celebrates and promotes the art of musical theater.

Through beloved series like Broadway Close Up, dynamic theater classes and camps for students of all ages, and our legendary Summer Musical Theater Workshop for kids, Theater@Kaufman reaches lifelong musical theater lovers, cultivates new audiences for the genre, and educates the next generation of musical theater writers and performers.

Theater@Kaufman kept the joy of musical theater alive in 2020-21 through popular digital performances that explored the lives and work of legends like Dorothy Fields and Kay Swift, through online and safe in-person classes like “Playwriting” and “Theater Adventures,” and through our February Winter Arts Camp.

In partnership with The Johnny Mercer Foundation, we created two educational video series – How to Write a Musical and Kids on Broadway – that are being accessed by schools across the country.

And with masks and social distancing, our 2021 Summer Musical Theater Workshop was held in person, with 55 students learning movement, singing, and scene study, and presenting five original musicals for friends and family in Merkin Hall.

“I wish it could have gone forever!” 

—9-year-old 2021 Winter Arts Camp participant

Face The Music

Face the Music performing on West 75th Street in June 2021.

Our new music program for teens is the country’s leading youth program dedicated to studying and performing music by living composers.

Taking advantage of modern technology, Face the Music students performed virtually and connected with guest artists from around the world in 2020-21, including Kaufman Music Center Artists-in-Residence Conrad Tao and Seth Parker Woods. Participants presented 10 concerts (nine of them digital) that featured 19 premieres by Face the Music students.

Face the Music performing at National Sawdust in February 2020.

In addition to working with 12 guest artists, Face the Music members had the opportunity to collaborate with youth music programs from across the country in a joint online performance of works from Kronos Quartet’s 50 for the Future – the celebrated new music ensemble’s string quartet commissioning project.

On June 13, Face the Music performed for a live audience for the first time in over a year and a half, bringing music to 150 people outdoors on West 75th Street thanks to New York City’s Open Culture program.

“Face the Music is essentially a group of musicians that feel their happiest sitting at the edge of an uncomfortable performance chair, surrounded by the magical silence that comes just after a piece has made its debut with the composer sitting in the front row of the audience – or performing, too.”

—Isabella Carucci, Face the Music member, flutist, and composer

Luna Composition Lab

Some of the 2020–21 Luna Composition Lab Fellows and Mentors.

Our mentorship program for teen composers who are female, non-binary, or gender nonconforming is changing the playing field for a new generation of musical creators.

In 2020–21, Luna Composition Lab expanded to serve six Fellows who hailed from New York, California, and Virginia. With the support of their Mentors, Fellows composed new pieces of music that were premiered during a final online concert in April 2021, as part of a weeklong digital festival packed with masterclasses that featured prominent, composers, musicians, and leaders in the arts. These new pieces were all recorded by the International Contemporary Ensemble. Bimonthly online masterclasses also provided opportunities for Fellows, Mentors, and alumni to connect and learn from each other throughout the year.

To continue championing the work of its Fellows during the pandemic, Luna Composition Lab also teamed up with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) to premiere works by 2019-20 Fellows, as well as pieces composed by participants in Luna Lab with LACO.

The pandemic tested Kaufman Music Center’s resilience like never before – but our drive to continue bringing beautiful experiences to as many people as we could kept us moving forward. In a year during which COVID-19 restricted our traditional revenue model, we are especially grateful to our community of supporters, whose contributions propelled us forward.

Our financials tell this story.


Expense and Revenue Numbers as of October 8, 2021. Numbers are unaudited and reflect direct expenses.

*Does not include depreciation


Orli Shaham, Chair
Shahriar Rafimayeri, President
Rosalind Devon, Honorary Chair
Elaine Kaufman, Honorary Chair
Charles Dimston, Vice President (in memoriam)
Bethany Millard, Vice President
Cathy White O’Rourke, Vice President
Irving Sitnick, Vice President
Christina M. Mason, Treasurer
Wendy Mosler, Secretary
Angelo Acconcia
Joel Beckerman
Joshua Bell
Justin Berrie
Damian Cavaleri
Nikki Renée Daniels
Danielle Dimston
Phyllis Feder
Sir James Galway
Kara Hammond
Nathalie Joachim
Daniel Kaufman
David B. Krieger
Solange Landau
Solomon Merkin
Marjorie Penrod
Sal Piscopo
Jessica Rothstein
William A. Schwartz (in memoriam)
Gil Spitzer
Jonathan Sulds
Kara Unterberg
Patricia Weinbach

Board Listing Accurate as of October 21, 2021

Kate Sheeran

John Glover
    Director of Artistic Planning
Sean Hartley
    Director, Theater@Kaufman
Kathy Hubbard
    Chief Administrative Officer
John Johansen
    Director of Marketing and

Igal Kesselman
    Director, Lucy Moses School
    Music Director, Special Music School

Leslie Lehman
    Director of Facilities
Claudie Mabry
    Director of Social Innovation
Jonathan Slawson
    Chief Development Officer


Lydia Kontos


Dr. Tzipora H. Jochsberger z”l

Kaufman Music Center
gratefully acknowledges
the generous support of
Mollie and Abraham Goodman
and the Goodman family

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