Music Blog

The Official Blog of the Music Conservatory of Westchester

Conservatory to Close 2pm Sat. Jan. 7

Saturday, January 07, 2017
Due to the change in the weather forecast, please be advised the Conservatory will close today at 2 p.m. All classes and events after that time will be rescheduled.

Keys to Success: Conservatory Student Sets Record at Fundraising Event

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Ailey Ann Simon performed “Silent Night” at the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s Performathon, a biennial fundraising event in which students perform and compete for prizes by getting family and friends to sponsor them.  In the weeks leading up to the Dec. 10 fundraiser and marathon day of recitals, the nine-year-old piano student from Elmsford was quite vocal in trying to raise enough money to secure the event’s grand prize of a Petrof Upright Piano.

“It takes a village,” Hartsdale’s Marian Richardson said with a smile, noting that her granddaughter was relentless in approaching family members, friends, and parishioners at her church to sponsor her performance.  That hard work eventually paid off - literally. Ailey raised $1,260 – a record in Performathon’s ten year history – and the young girl took home her very first piano. 

“It takes a village...” 

In total, the event, which featured over 200 students performing, netted $6,129. Funds raised will go to the Conservatory’s scholarship program as well as the launch of a new electronic keyboard classroom. Fittingly, young Ailey is a scholarship student. The Conservatory provides tuition assistance on a sliding scale for qualifying youth ages 18 and under. Scholarships are provided for up to 95 percent of tuition (the Conservatory does not provide full scholarships). All scholarship awards are based upon household income, family size, and special financial considerations. Scholarship applications are kept confidential and must be updated yearly.  Save


Conservatory Closed Saturday, Dec. 17

Friday, December 16, 2016

Please note - The Conservatory will be closed all day on Saturday, Dec. 17 due to inclement weather. As a result, recitals are rescheduled to Saturday, Jan. 7 at the same scheduled times.


Beloved Faculty Member, James Ranti, Passes Away

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


It is with heavy hearts that we announce beloved faculty member James Ranti – a fixture here since 2002 - has passed away. On behalf of staff, faculty, and his students, we send our love and support to his family and our gratitude to Jim for inspiring so many. The Conservatory is planning a memorial service in January.


Armacost Quartet Headlines Annual Jazz Brunch

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

(LARCHMONT, NY) On Oct. 23, the Music Conservatory of Westchester held its annual Jazz Brunch at the Larchmont Shore Club at 1 Oak Bluff Ave. in Larchmont, featured Hastings-on-Hudson’s Tim Armacost and his quartet. Proceeds from the event went toward the not-for-profit White Plains music school’s scholarship program.  

 Board President Joel Breitkopf of Scarsdale welcomes the crowd to the Music Conservatory’s annual Jazz Brunch at the Larchmont Shore Club.

  (L-to-R) Conservatory Dean of Students and Faculty Doug Bish of Beacon, Board President Joel Breitkopf of Scarsdale, and Executive Director Jean Newton of Edgemont.

  Hastings-on-Hudson’s Tim Armacost and his quartet perform at the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s annual Jazz Brunch on Oct. 23 at the Larchmont Shore Club. Hastings-on-Hudson’s Tim Armacost and his quartet headlined the event. 

 On Oct. 23, the Music Conservatory of Westchester hosted its annual Jazz Brunch at the Larchmont Shore Club at 1 Oak Bluff Ave. in Larchmont, featured the Tim Armacost Quartet (Harvie S, Jason Tiemann, Jay Azzolina). Armacost is a Grammy-nominated saxophonist who has recorded 14 albums, and has composed for Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Photos by Alye Carlevaro



MCW student in the Broadway show "School of Rock!"

Monday, October 17, 2016

(Rachel 5th from left in black with "68" shirt)

The Music Conservatory is pleased to announce that Rachel Katzke, electric bass student of MCW faculty member Al Renino, has been cast in the role of "Katie" in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "School of Rock-The Musical," at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway! She will be making her debut on November 7th, 2016.

"This role is unique in that it also requires her to play the electric bass live in an on-stage rock group," said her teacher, Al Renino. "Rachel came to MCW last year (at age 10) specifically with the goal of auditioning for this role, never having previously played or owned a bass. She worked incredibly hard, and I am extremely proud of her!"

Congratulations Rachel, break a leg! 

Photo courtesy of For the Playbill announcement click HERE.



"914 Insider" Launch Party and Awards Night

Monday, September 12, 2016

914 Insider, a new directory service that provides free local listings for Westchester-based small businesses, will award two local charities/non-profits donations totaling 2,750 as part of a kick-off event to be held Oct. 17 from 5 p.m. - 7p.m. at the Music Conservatory of Westchester at 216 Central Ave. in White Plains. Since the aim of the company is for customers to "stay connected" with their favorite local stores (learning first about sales and special offers), founder Sabrina Kucevik of Bronxville wanted to connect with the community by giving back to those that give so much in the county.

Winners will be announced at the event with online voting on the 914 Insider Facebook page playing a significant role in the selection process of a $1,000 grand prize, $750 runner-up prize, and a third prize in the amount of $500. An additional $500 will be donated to the Conservatory. 914 Insider plans to award two cash prizes every three months with the idea that businesses receive free advertising while, at the same time, support local charities. For more information, contact Jon Chattman at



15 Minutes for 15 Years - Honoring Those Who Serve

Thursday, September 01, 2016


On the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, fifteen one-minute works will be premiered at Trinity Church by the West Point Band to honor the memory of men and women who serve. In a unique collaboration, the West Point Band joins contemporary music organization, Vox Novus to present Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame: A Celebration of Service. The West Point Band will premiere 15 one-minute pieces created by composers who were responding to the theme “service” and what it means to all different kinds of people - such as military, first responders, community service, and everyday kindness. The West Point Band and Cadet Glee Club from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point will also perform Americana works and the Armed Forces Medley that will stir the patriotic soul of all those in attendance.

The following 15 composers’ works represent this Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame for this performance include: James Anderson, David Avshalomov (winner of the 2014 American Prize), Sy Brandon (recipient of the 2018 Thor Johnson Memorial Commission), Steve Cohen, Harrison J. Collins, Cindi Hsu, Nicholas Ryan Kelly, George David Kieffer (whose fanfare was selected for the Los Angeles Special Olympics,2015), Alan Kinningham, Anthony O'Toole, David R. Peoples, James Peterson (whose work Moving Images Suite was featured at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards), Bradley Sampson, Richard G Smith, and R. Andrew Yates.

These 15 works written specifically for the West Point Band is part of Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame a Vox Novus music project. Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame: A Celebration of Service will be premiered by the West Point Band at Trinity Church, 75 Broadway, New York City at 2:00 PM on September 11, 2016.

Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame is a project which features fifteen one-minute works by fifteen composers, written specifically for the performers. The purpose of the project is to promote a great variety of contemporary music to audiences hungry to hear what living composers are writing today.

The West Point Band is the Army’s oldest musical organization and continues to provide world-class music to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets and to serve as ambassadors of the United States Military Academy and the Army to local, national, and international communities. Its innovative programs and performances are enjoyed across the globe through regular television, radio, and recordings. The West Point Band traces its lineage back to a single drummer and fifer left to maintain the tradition of military music at West Point after the Revolutionary War. Over the past 200 years, the band evolved into one of the most capable and versatile professional performing groups in the world.

Vox Novus is a new music production and promotion company. Through concert programs such as Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame, Vox Novus seeks to empower composers, musicians, and community music creators. Finding innovative methods of concert formats and presentation, Vox Novus introduces audiences to the vast wealth of music being created by today’s composers and musicians. Since 2000, Vox Novus has premiered the works of thousands of composers in more than 500 performances throughout the world. Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame creates opportunities for 15 composers to express themselves and have the chance to write for a prominent ensemble. More about Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame can be found on the website

For more information, contact Robert Voisey at



Introducing a More Extensive Jazz/Rock/Pop Program this Fall!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Music Conservatory of Westchester will roll out several brand new classes for those interested in new and contemporary music. The offerings are aimed to expand musical horizons by learning the basics of jazz theory, harmony and improvisation. Additionally, students can explore their unique compositional voice and write original music. A music appreciation class is also available as are new large and small ensemble options including, respectively, Latin Jazz and Jazz Big Band and Jazz Combos and Rock Band.

“We offer groups of every shape and size, from rock or jazz band, to Latin Jazz and Big Band,” explained Doug Bish, Dean of Students and Faculty. “We’ll match you up with compatible players, and you’ll receive weekly coaching with a member of our outstanding professional faculty. You’ll grow as a musician and have opportunities to perform at the Conservatory and in the community.”

"We offer groups of every shape and size, from rock or jazz band, to Latin Jazz and Big Band..."

For those jazz lovers, there’s also a Jazz Theory and Improvisation class in which students will learn the evolution of improvisation, and discover how jazz greats like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane mastered their art. “You’ll develop new ways to practice your instrument, understand the Blues, use complex harmonic ideas and structures, and improvise in styles such as Bebop and Cool Jazz,” said Assistant Dean Jake Robinson.

In addition to those enhancements, the Conservatory is offering a songwriting workshop (grade 7 to adult) which will enable students to create and perform their original compositions. (There is also a young songwriters class for those in grades 6-8.) For those who simply want to share their love of music, music appreciation class “Cover to Cover” will discuss a different classic album – from Bowie to the Beach Boys – each week.

The Conservatory will also hold group classes in guitar and piano for teen and adult beginners. There is also a new “Top 25 Classics for Bass” class for students who can read music, and want to perform classic tunes by the likes of The Beatles, Temptations, Van Morrison, and other top artists.

The Conservatory offers instruction in all styles of music, on all instruments including piano, voice, strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion, harp, harpsichord and organ. “Our highly qualified teachers use an individualized approach for each student, based on age, goals and learning style. Lessons are available throughout the year, including summer,” Bish said. Tuition to the lessons includes free music theory classes, discounted performing ensembles, and free student performances including rehearsals with a professional piano accompanist.

Photo by Alye Carlevaro


“Amazing Leader” Joel Breitkopf Named Conservatory Board President

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Joel Breitkopf, a Scarsdale resident with over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry, has been appointed president of the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s Board of Trustees. He succeeds Rodd Berro who held the post for five years.

Breitkopf, principal of Alchemy Properties in New York City, joined the board three years ago and served as its Vice President the last two, is the founding sponsor of the music therapy scholarship program for Veterans called Healing Our Heroes. The program, which launched in September 2013 and is an offshoot of the Conservatory’s Music Therapy Institute, provides music therapy and music instruction to military Veterans in the tristate area (NY, CT, NJ) who are returning home with a variety of psychological and physical injuries sustained while on active duty.

The Conservatory has worked with local Veterans centers and VA hospitals to continuously identify Veterans for this program, which has been a tremendous success and continues to grow helping more and more local Veterans from the Bronx to Northern Westchester. “I am honored and thrilled to become the President of the Board of Trustees for such a great community organization that dates back to 1929,” said Breitkopf. “The depth and breadth of the organization helps children, Veterans, adults and the elderly in connecting them to themselves, their peers and their communities through the universal language of music that we all share.”

Throughout his career, Breitkopf has been involved in numerous groups and charities including serving as past president of B'Nai Brith Real Estate. He joined Alchemy Properties in 1993. He is involved in all aspects of the company’s developments and investments from acquisition, finance, design, construction, marketing and strategic planning. He has financed well over $2 billion worth of real estate transactions and has acquired over 3,500,000 square feet of real estate during his career and is intimately involved with Alchemy’s current conversion of the national landmark Woolworth Building Tower to residences.

“Successful real estate development involves the orchestrated juggling of many constituencies and points of view that need to be addressed in a very positive and forthright manner,” said Breitkopf. “[This] is exactly what any established community organization, like the Conservatory strives for every day of the week.” He continued, “I look forward to working with a very experienced and sophisticated board as well as an amazing staff of music teachers and administrators as we continue to grow the organization.”

Jean Newton, the Conservatory’s Executive Director, said Breitkopf will be an amazing leader for the board and the school. “He really knows how to bring people together to get things done. He’s bringing all his passion and energy to his role as president, and he’s incredibly generous,” she said.