I am delighted to share some of the highlights and achievements from Kaufman Music Center’s 2018-19 academic year and concert season. The Center has accomplished so much over the past year, all of which is only possible thanks to the support from our dedicated community of students, faculty, parents, supporters, and friends.

My first year at Kaufman Music Center has been incredibly rewarding, and I am inspired every day by the enthusiasm of this wonderful community. You are an important part of what makes the Center a warm, welcoming musical home for countless New Yorkers, and we are deeply grateful.

We hope you enjoy the following report of how Kaufman Music Center is transforming lives and making a difference in our community. Thank you for helping to make all of this possible!

With appreciation,

Kate Sheeran
Executive Director

WHO We are

This year, Kaufman Music Center transformed the lives of:

Music is essential to the human experience and a vital component of education for everyone.

Kaufman Music Center stimulates appreciation of and participation in music through 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.


In 2018-19, Kaufman Music Center offered a creative community to over 4,000 students, building their skills and confidence in the arts and empowering them to succeed outside of the Center as creative minds, engaged citizens, and thoughtful leaders. Students participated in a variety of outstanding programs:

Learn about some of our amazing students 


Kaufman Music Center is committed to creating an inclusive environment that welcomes music lovers from all walks of life. Our Fund for Music Education ensures that every child who is curious about exploring their musical potential has access to our educational programs, regardless of financial means.

2019 Kaufman Music Center Gala

The Special Music School High School Men’s Choir performs at the 2019 Gala with Caroline Shaw and the Attacca Quartet.

In June, Kaufman Music Center hosted its annual Gala benefiting music education at Guastavino’s. More than 370 guests attended and enjoyed an exclusive performance by pioneering composer, vocalist, violinist, and producer Caroline Shaw – the youngest ever recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Ms. Shaw appeared alongside the Attacca Quartet and the Special Music School High School Men’s Choir, premiering a new arrangement of her composition “Find the Line”.

This year we were proud to honor Cathy White O’Rourke, President of our Board of Trustees, for her 20+ years of service to the Center. In addition, The Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund was honored for its significant support of Special Music School, which has enabled the School to thrive and transform countless young lives.

The Gala celebrated our community of 2,075 individuals, foundations, corporations, and government agencies who gave $3.26 million to support Kaufman Music Center in 2018-19.

In April, we announced that the Jerome L. Greene Foundation became one of Special Music School High School’s newest benefactors, having pledged an extraordinary gift of $300,000 in support of the High School’s innovative music program. 

The Foundation joins an illustrious list of institutions supporting Special Music School, including the Edwin Caplin Foundation, The Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

"We believe strongly in the transformative power of the arts. Music is a vital part of arts education and we couldn’t be more proud to partner with Kaufman Music Center to support the SMS music program,” says Chris McInerney, President and CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation.

View photos of the 2019 Gala

Special Music SchooL (M859)

Special Music School is New York City’s only K-12 public school that teaches music as a core subject, and the School represents a unique partnership between Kaufman Music Center and the NYC Department of Education. The Center’s Fund for Music Education fully funds the music program, allowing students to study without the financial barriers associated with world-class musical education. Our graduates attend top colleges and conservatories, including The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Bard College and Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, Columbia University, Oberlin College, and Smith College.

Face the Music

Face the Music is the country’s premier youth program dedicated to music by living composers. Students come from 40+ schools across all five boroughs. In 2018-19, students had the opportunity to study with renowned artists including: Missy Mazzoli, Claire Chase, Helga Davis, Mazz Swift, Brooklyn Raga Massive, and the International Contemporary Ensemble. The program also hosted a string quartet residency program with ETHEL and performed with rock legend Todd Rundgren as part of Ecstatic Music in Merkin Hall. Students had opportunities to appear at other prestigious venues including The Rubin Museum, National Sawdust, and Roulette. 

Watch Face the Music in action

Learn more about Luna Composition Lab

Lucy Moses School

New York City’s largest community music school, Lucy Moses School offers private instrument lessons as well as classes in music, dance, and theater to students of all ages – from toddlers to seniors – and levels of experience. In 2018-19, the School welcomed over 3,000 learners of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds who found classes and teachers that engaged, empowered, and inspired them.

Watch the 2019 Summer String Fest performance


In a series of sold-out performances, Broadway Close Up gave theater fans a new perspective on the shows and songs they love, plus a preview of the best new musicals headed to Broadway.

Broadway Playhouseintroduced children from across NYC to musical theater. In July, the Summer Musical Theater Workshop celebrated its 30th year of engaging kids and teens in the creation and performance of original musicals in Merkin Hall.

Hear from campers about Summer Musical Theater Workshop!

Merkin Hall

Merkin Hall’s 2018-19 season was exceptional. Tuesday Matinees, the Hall’s longest running series, showcased rising stars like violinist Tessa Lark and the Argus Quartet. In February, the Hall debuted a new concert series, Only at Merkin with Terrance McKnight, providing audience members with insightful conversations and virtuosic performances by acclaimed pianists Ursula Oppens and André Watts and harpist Bridget Kibbey. The Center also presented groundbreaking new works at the ninth season of Ecstatic Music: a six-concert series featuring adventurous artist collaborations representing a diverse collection genres and sounds.

In July 2019, we launched the Innovators Circle, a membership group for leadership supporters of the Hall. Members of the Circle will access exclusive benefits during the 2019-20 season, including an invitation to a private concert and cocktail reception with Rob Kapilow, attendance at dress rehearsals for some of our celebrated concert series, and special recognition in Merkin Hall programs.

Merkin Hall's 2019-20 Season!

Check out the Merkin performance calendar


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
Damian Cavaleri
Sir James Galway
Kara Hammond
David Krieger
Solange Landau
Dennis Lee
Solomon Merkin
Marjorie Penrod
Sal Piscopo
Shahriar Rafimayeri
Judith Rom
Jessica Rothstein
William A. Schwartz
Orli Shaham
Karen Sherry
Jonathan Sulds
Kara Unterberg
Patricia Weinbach

Kate Sheeran

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

View & download our 2019 Impact Report

2018 Impact Report

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