Chair of MSM Alumni Council, conductor Justin Bischof, speaks with us about his new MSM video series MSM Conversations “Over 80” in which he interviews illustrious members of the MSM community who are more than 80 years old.
Justin also speaks about his upcoming concert at the Kaufman Center in NYC featuring MSM alumni and faculty, and about a new Alumni platform for the MSM website that will help foster connections between MSM alumni and MSM.
Can you tell us about the important new MSM interview series you’ve created?
Justin Bischof: The series MSM Conversations “Over 80” features in depth interviews with highly revered and accomplished MSM community members who happen to be more than 80 years old. My impetus was simple. We live in an ever-increasing busy, hectic and “non-listening” world. I firmly believe that institutions have structural/cumulative DNA that expresses itself in how it functions in the day to day, what choices are used to chart the institution’s future, all the while being a product of those who came before us.
When I created the series, I envisioned a set of in-depth interviews with no PR agenda, no rushed timetable, and a generous amount of time for the subjects to share their life journey both in music as with their connection to MSM. Why interview only those the age of 80 and older? Because in this “non-listening” world, our distinguished elders very often receive the least amount of airtime. MSM Conversations “Over 80” is a vehicle, a rare opportunity for these amazing friends of MSM to share their story with us.
How did you first come to MSM, and what is your relationship with the School?
Justin Bischof: I came to Manhattan School of Music at the age 18 from Canada to pursue my Bachelors in Organ Performance, and I fell in love with the school. So much so that I stayed for my master’s and doctorate. After completing the DMA, I was asked to join the theory faculty and the keyboard skill faculty, which I enthusiastically accepted. I was eager to learn how the school “worked” so I joined the Executive Committee of the Faculty Council as well as the Alumni Council.
In 2018, I begin my term as Vice-Chair of the Alumni Council, and in 2020 began my work as Chair. MSM has been an important part of my life since I was 18, giving me so much, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this amazing institution.
As Chair of the Alumni Council, what can you tell us about this role?
Justin Bischof: I am so proud to be a part of MSM’s Alumni Council! Our work is simple yet crucial — to continually find ways to strengthen our Alumni community. MSM has roughly 1,000 current students but 17,000 alumni! As performing artists, we have to be hyper-focused on our careers which require 24/7 nurturing and attention. At the same time, we must remember that we can benefit immensely by staying connected with our fellow alums.
One of the many projects we have initiated is the Alumni Council Mentoring Program where members of the Council organize and participate in mentoring sessions with current students (future alums) as well as current alums. We are always interested in new membership on the Council — do not be shy — be in touch!
MSM is in the process of creating a new Alumni Network. Can you tell us a little bit about the new platform?
Justin Bischof: “Graduway” is our new platform for the Alumni network, and we are excited about its upcoming debut. This new system that’s scheduled to be launched in November which will fundamentally change how we, the alumni community, interact online. It will enable us to grow stronger, more connected with mentoring and job services available all in one efficient and user-friendly interface. Stay tuned for announcements regarding its launch — you will want to sign up immediately!
You are a highly successful musician with a busy career: What concert events do you have coming up this fall that you can tell us about?
Justin Bischof: I have a special concert coming up that is being headlined by all MSM alums! The Strings of Modus Operandi Orchestra (MOO) will be making its Merkin Hall Kaufman Music Center debut on Wednesday, November 30th at 6:30pm.
I am the Artistic Director & Conductor of MOO and am very proud to be collaborating with three brilliant MSM alumni: MSM’s Co-Chair of the Piano department Alexandre Moutouzkine, trumpet player Eganam Segbefia and concertmaster Eiko Kano.
This program of sumptuous works for string orchestra will include Strauss’s epic Metamorphosen, Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.1, and Chamber Symphony as well as 2 vibrant works by NYC contemporary composer Jessie Montgomery. If you would like more information, please visit www.moonyc.org – we hope to see you there!