Virtual Gala to Premiere

Friday, Oct 02, 2020
By Kevin Filipski
Juilliard Journal
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Virtual gala artwork

Students and alumni from the dance, drama, music, and preparatory divisions are showcased in Juilliard’s Virtual Gala, which took place October 5.

Free and open to the public, the starry celebration included new pieces created just for the event as well as footage of highlights from the last year. Proceeds from the virtual gala go to the Juilliard Scholarship Fund, which helps enable the approximately 90 percent of Juilliard college students who qualify for and receive financial aid to be able to fulfill their dreams. The gala is no longer available online, but please click here to donate to support Juilliard scholarships. 

“Juilliard students are doing the extraordinary—pivoting in this moment and creating new paradigms of artistic innovation and collaboration,” Juilliard’s president, Damian Woetzel, said. “This special occasion, which raises money in support of our incredible students, honors the talent across Juilliard’s music, dance, and drama divisions and salute the achievements of our remarkable faculty and alumni.”

The new pieces created especially for the gala bookend the evening, which was directed by vocal arts faculty member Mary Birnbaum. They start with the Juilliard Orchestra and Juilliard Jazz Orchestra’s virtual collaboration on a selection from Swing Symphony by Juilliard Jazz director Wynton Marsalis (’81, trumpet), conducted by David Robertson. The closer is “Knee Play 5” from Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass (Diploma ’60, MS ’62, composition), arranged by Creative Associate Nico Muhly (MM ’04, composition) and performed by Glass, Muhly, Lorraine Toussaint (Group 11), Tim Fain (MM ’00, violin), Creative Associate Nadia Sirota (BM ’04, MM ‘06), Alex Sopp (BM ’05, MM ‘07), and student and alumni instrumentalists, singers, and actors from the music, drama, and preparatory divisions.  

The highlights from the 2019-20 school year include Renée Fleming’s (’86, voice/opera) February master class with student singers; behind the scenes of Sight & Sound, choreographer Amy Hall Garner’s (BFA ’99, dance) creation for the first-year dancers from New Dances: Edition 2019; a tribute to President’s Medal recipient, and civil rights leader, and former Juilliard student Clarence B. Jones that pairs a Mozart clarinet serenade with an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. There will also be a salute to Historical Performance’s 10th anniversary; the Juilliard Orchestra’s virtual performance of “Nimrod” from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, conducted by faculty member Itzhak Perlman (Pre-College ’63; ’68, violin); and a solo Bach selection by cellist Yo-Yo Ma (Pre-College ’71; Professional Studies ’72). The gala also took a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Bolero Juilliard, the blockbuster sensation directed and choreographed by Larry Keigwin and Nicole Wolcott that stitched together hundreds of short videos and dozens of audio tracks to create an online art piece featuring students, faculty members, and alumni performing together apart.

Kevin Filipski is Juilliard’s program editor

>Click here to make a contribution in support of Juilliard scholarships

>You can find the gala program here and the accessible version of the program here