Our Impact

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to share with you some exciting highlights from the 2017-18 academic year and concert season. As you'll see, the impact of our generous community is palpable throughout Kaufman Music Center each day. 

Since arriving here in mid-August, I have been constantly inspired by the committed students, performers, faculty, and staff who make the Center a musical home for so many. This is a truly special place, and I am deeply proud to be a part of it.

As we plan for our bright future, I am energized by the many loyal supporters that make our work possible—thank you! Our success is due in large part to all of you, who help us to continue our work as a leading force in music education and presentation. I hope you are as proud to read this report as I am to share it, as none of this work would be possible without you!

With appreciation,

Kate Sheeran
Executive Director

Who We Are

Each year, we welcome

Kaufman Music Center believes that music is essential to the human experience and a vital component of education for everyone.

Our mission is to stimulate appreciation of and participation in music performance and education in ways that awaken creativity, advance innovation and create a sense of wonder among performers, students, teachers and the public at large.

Our Students

Transforming lives through music
Kaufman Music Center educates young people through music so they can become innovative thinkers, engaged citizens, and dynamic leaders who make the world a better place. Whether students are curious explorers or seriously pursuing a career in music, they find a nurturing, supportive musical home here through a variety of outstanding programs:

Learn about some of our amazing students 

Making Music Accessible

Kaufman Music Center makes music education accessible to people from all walks of life. Our Fund for Music Education ensures that talented children can access our outstanding educational programs, regardless of their financial means. 

New Leadership

In 2018, the Board of Trustees appointed Kate Sheeran as Kaufman Music Center’s incoming Executive Director. An accomplished educator and academic administrator, new music champion, and professional musician, Kate previously served as Provost and Dean of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

2017-18 marked an important change in leadership for Kaufman Music Center. Our longtime Executive Director, Lydia Kontos, announced her retirement after nearly 40 years of service to the Center. 2018 was a “Year of Thanks” to Lydia, in which we celebrated her through various events – including our annual Gala on May 14.

Read about Kate Sheeran

Those Who Make Our Work Possible

Our community raised $3,411,784 to support our work. Kaufman Music Center was supported by 1,421 donors, including foundations, individuals, corporations, and government agencies. We were thrilled that our Gala honoring Lydia Kontos, passed the million-dollar mark for the first time in the Center’s history. Through a groundbreaking fundraising campaign in Lydia’s honor, called A Celebration of Our Muse, more than $750,000 was committed for music education.

View photos of the 2018 Gala

Special Music School (M859)

Special Music School’s student body represents the diverse fabric of New York City’s cultural landscape. Students receiving support represent:

New York City's only K-12 public school that teaches music as a core subject is a unique public/private partnership between Kaufman Music Center and the NYC Department of Education. Kaufman’s Fund for Music Education fully funds the music program so that gifted students can fulfill their potential regardless of their financial means. Our graduates go on to attend top colleges and conservatories, including The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Columbia University, and Smith College.  

Face the Music

Kaufman Music Center’s contemporary music program for teens is the new face of 21st century music. The country’s only youth orchestra dedicated to studying and performing post-genre music by living composers, Face the Music offers adventurous young musicians unparalleled mentorship and performance opportunities. Working with leading artists including Missy Mazzoli, Kronos Quartet, Conrad Tao, Anthony Braxton, Brooklyn Raga Massive, and ETHEL, students perform in venues like Merkin Hall and National Sawdust and are encouraged to write and perform their own music. 

Watch Face the Music in action
Learn more about Luna Composition Lab

Lucy Moses School

NYC’s largest community music school, Lucy Moses School offers students of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to develop a passion for music, theater, and dance with a faculty of world-class teaching artists who engage, inspire and empower them. 

Watch the 2018 Summer String Fest performance

Merkin Hall

Merkin Hall hosted an extraordinary season. Our series, What Makes It Great? with Rob Kapilow, brought in sold-out crowds who engaged with the music of Gershwin, Beethoven, Haydn and Dvořák in meaningful ways. Ecstatic Music Festival® grouped together innovative musicians in unique combinations with thrilling results. Last year’s world-class lineup included the Bang on a Can People’s Commissioning Fund Concert, experimental sextet Bent Knee with Mantra Percussion, and avant-garde pianist Margaret Leng Tan premiering numerous new works. The Tuesday Matinees series featured eight up-and-coming stars of classical music such as the Manhattan Chamber Players and the Verona Quartet.

See videos of performances in Merkin
Check out the Merkin performance calendar


Musical theater can open doors and transform lives! Last year, Broadway stars including Karen Ziemba, Kate Baldwin, and Liz Callaway delighted audiences with songs by Stephen Sondheim, duets by American Songbook greats, and a preview of four brand new musicals at sold-out Broadway Close Up performances in Merkin Hall. Broadway Playhouse introduced children from schools all over NYC to the music of Leonard Bernstein, Jerry Herman, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. And a new crop of passionate young theater fans took the stage at the 2018 Summer Musical Theater Workshop. 

Watch the 2018 Summer Musical Theater Workshop students in action! 

(as of August 31, 2018)

Rosalind Devon, Chairman
Cathy White O’Rourke, President
Leonard Goodman, Honorary Chair
Elaine Kaufman, Honorary Chair
Charles Dimston, Vice President
Phyllis Feder, Vice President
Bethany Millard, Vice President
Irving Sitnick, Vice President
Christina M. Mason, Treasurer
Wendy Mosler, Secretary

Joel Beckerman
Joshua Bell
Gavin R. Berger
Damian Cavaleri
Betty Neal Crutcher
Karen Sherry Dolan
Gregory J. Fierce
Sir James Galway
Judith Hall
Lydia Kontos
David B. Krieger
Solange Landau
Solomon Merkin
Marjorie Penrod
Shahriar Rafimayeri
Judith Rom
Jessica Rothstein
William A. Schwartz
Orli Shaham
Bradley D. Simon
Jonathan Sulds
Kara Unterberg
Patricia Weinbach
Joy Wyatt

Brooke Bryant, Director of Development
Catherine Ganley, Chief Operating Officer
Sean Hartley, Director, Theater@Kaufman
Kathy Hubbard, Chief Administrative Officer
John Johansen, Director of Marketing & Communications
Igal Kesselman, Director, Lucy Moses School & Music Director, Special Music School
Vasu Panicker, Director, Face the Music

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