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Save the Date May 14, 2018
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Black Tie International:
Kaufman Music Center 2018 Gala

Kaufman Music Center


Flute legends Sir James Galway and Lady Jeanne Galway along with opera superstar Ailyn Pérez will head the entertainment lineup at Kaufman Music Center’s 2018 Gala on Monday, May 14 at Guastavino’s, 409 East 59th St., NYC. The Gala will celebrate the importance and beauty of music education by honoring the Center’s long-time Executive Director, Lydia Kontos, for her four decades of exemplary leadership and stalwart advocacy. The gala, beginning at 6:30 pm, will also feature young virtuosos from Kaufman Music Center’s various schools and programs on stage with the Galways and Ms. Perez, who is currently singing the role of Marguerite in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Faust and will appear this spring as Juliette in Roméo et Juliette at the Metropolitan Opera.


Kaufman Music Center is a pioneer and an innovator in the music world,” says Kaufman’s Executive Director Lydia Kontos, who has announced her retirement and will step down in September 2018 after nearly 40 years at the Center’s helm. “Music education has the power to open doors and change lives, and we have harnessed that power for our students. I am proud of what we have accomplished and look forward to watching the organization grow and evolve in the future. There are still so many opportunities!”


The 2018 Gala is a highlight of Kaufman Music Center’s Year of Thanks in honor of Ms. Kontos’s remarkable leadership and vision. The recently-launched Celebration of Our Muse campaign invites donors to support scholarships ensuring that her commitment to making music education affordable to all can continue long after her tenure.


“We are pleased to be part of this tribute honoring Lydia Kontos,” says Sir James and Lady Galway. “We would like to congratulate her on a Lifetime Achievement in education and dedication to Kaufman Music Center and for enriching all our lives. She is indeed a great inspiration to us all.”


This elegant, entertaining evening will benefit Kaufman Music Center’s Fund for Music Education, which helps thousands of children access high-level instruction in music, theater and dance. The Fund supports the $2.5 million music curriculum at Kaufman’s K-12 public school for musically gifted children (Special Music School), provides scholarships to underprivileged students at Manhattan’s largest community arts school (Lucy Moses School) and creates opportunities for children in New York City’s neediest schools to enjoy musical theater performances.


“At a time when music education is disappearing from our public school system, it is more important than ever to be inspired by and supportive of Kaufman Music Center,’ says Opera star Ailyn Pérez. “Identifying talent early on and providing access to music education gives students boundless opportunities to grow and to become empowered adults. Lydia Kontos has been a visionary supporter and a champion for music education, creating extraordinary programs that not only foster young talent, but that also nurture and encourage children through in-depth mentorship programs. She has enriched the lives of countless students and families, and therefore has energized communities and the future of the arts.”


Gala Chairs are the Assurant FoundationElaine and Henry KaufmanBethany and Robert B. Millard and Christina and Lawrence Wee. Gala Vice-Chairs are Rosalind Devon and Sanford L. Batkin and Cathy and John O’Rourke. They will be joined by prominent artists and performers including conductor David Robertson, MacArthur “Genius” and Artistic Director/Founder of the Young People's Chorus of New York City Francisco J. Núñez, pianist Orli Shaham and pianist Shai Wosner. Representing the NYC business community are Man Made Music leader Joel BeckermanRobert Millard (Chairman, MIT), Wendy Mosler (Global Holdings Management Group), Lawrence Wee (Paul, Weiss), Nina Kontos (Google), David Klafter (Pershing Square Capital Management), Mark Rambler(Credibility Capital), Alex Chi (Goldman Sachs), Dick Beattie and Leonard and Connie Goodman (Goody).


Lydia Kontos – Recipient of the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award

One of the longest-serving professional leaders of an arts center in NYC history, Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Lydia Kontos has had an enormous impact on the NYC music scene – particularly contemporary classical – and on music education in NYC and nationally. During her tenure, KMC has evolved from a small music school into NYC’s premier center for pre-college music education and performance. The many programs launched through her leadership include: the first comprehensive presenting series at Merkin Concert HallSpecial Music School, NYC’s only K-12 public school for musically gifted children; the Ecstatic Music Festival, hailed as “the alt-classical world’s main showcase” (New York Times); the celebrated youth new music ensemble Face the Music; and Luna Composition Lab, a mentorship program for young women composers founded by Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid. Ms. Kontos recently announced her retirement and will step down in September 2018. For more information about the evolution of Kaufman Music Center under Ms. Kontos, click here.


Sir James Galway – 2018 Gala Performer

Globally renowned as the supreme interpreter of the classical flute repertoire, Sir James Galway is a consummate performer whose appeal transcends all musical boundaries. Through his extensive touring, over 30 million albums sold, his frequent international television appearances and collaborations with many popular artists, Sir James has endeared himself to millions worldwide.


Belfast-born, Galway studied in London and Paris before embarking on his orchestral career in London’s major opera and symphonic orchestras. He took up the coveted position of solo flautist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Herbert von Karajan in 1969, before becoming one of the very first flautists to establish an international solo career in 1975.


Alongside his busy performing schedule, Galway devotes much of his free time to educational outreach. He has established the Galway Flute Academy, which includes international flute festivals, masterclasses, free community events ( and his own online flute community: First Flute ( as well as visiting professorships to the Royal Irish Academy Dublin and The Royal College of Music London, to name a few.


A tireless promoter of the arts, he also gives a great deal of time to charitable organizations including SOS, Future Talent, Youth Music (UK), Music Generation Ireland, The Ireland Funds and the Shimon Peres Peace Center educational project – as well as UNICEF, for whom he is a Special Representative.


Awarded the OBE in 1979, and subsequently a Knighthood for Services to Music in 2001, Sir James Galway has been the recipient of many honors and awards for his musical accomplishments including the Kennedy Center Gold Medal in the Arts; Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Gramophone and the National Concert Hall Dublin; the Grammy Recording Academy’s President’s Merit Award and The Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame.


Lady Jeanne Galway – 2018 Gala Performer

A graduate of New York City’s Mannes College of Music, Lady Galway has risen to become one of the world’s leading female flautists. She is an accomplished and much celebrated artist who regularly tours internationally in diverse and virtuosic programmes, and is also deeply committed to music education initiatives.


Lady Galway’s concerto appearances have been with many of the leading orchestras in the United States, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In Europe, she regularly performs in London, Milan, Rome, Vienna, Salzburg and Zurich, and she frequently visits Tokyo, Beijing and Singapore.


In addition to her highly successful career as a soloist, Lady Galway is also an accomplished chamber musician, touring regularly with various chamber ensembles including her trio Zephyr (pianist Jonathan Feldman and cellist Darrett Adkins). The group’s first recording,Zephyr – Winds of Romance, includes works by Haydn, Martinů and Weber. Lady Galway also works as the premiere flute duo partner of her husband Sir James Galway, delighting audiences worldwide, and in 2008 receiving the ‘Spirit of Ireland’ award in recognition for their roles as ambassadors for music. Lady Galway has recorded to critical acclaim for RCA, BMG Classics and Deutsche Grammophon.


Varied concert engagements include performances in the presence of The Empress of Japan, HRH The Earl and Countess of Wessex, TRH The Duke and Duchess of Kent, The Queen of Norway, The Queen of Spain, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, President Shimon Peres, President Mary McAleese, President Michael D. Higgins, US Vice President Joe Biden and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Lady Galway serves as a patron to the charity Future Talent headed by the Duchess of Kent, Ambassador of The European Brain Council and of Music Generation Ireland.


Actively pursuing her love of teaching, Lady Galway dedicates much of her time to working with the younger generation through her educational articles, mentoring of flute students, blogs and recordings. She created the groundbreaking ‘First Flute’ online education community with her husband, and also gives regular masterclasses of her own to aspiring flautists throughout the world. She devotes every summer to running the celebrated Galway Flute Academy in Switzerland (


Ailyn Pérez – 2018 Gala Performer

Hailed by the New York Times as “a beautiful woman who commands the stage” and “a major soprano,” Ailyn Pérez is increasingly in demand at the world’s leading opera houses and cultural capitals. In the 2017-18 season, Ms. Pérez returns to the Metropolitan Opera to sing the Countess in Le Nozze di FigaroThaïs (title role, role debut), and Juliette (Roméo et Juliette). She recently made her operatic stage debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago as Marguerite in a new production of Faust, and debuts at the Opernhaus Zürich as Violetta in La Traviata. Ailyn also sings her first Dvořák Requiem in Prague, which will be recorded for a future release on DECCA Classics. Ailyn Pérez has received several honours, including the 2012 Richard Tucker Award (thereby becoming the first Hispanic recipient in the award’s 35-year history), the 15th annual Plácido Domingo Award, the 2016 Beverly Sills Award from The Metropolitan Opera, the 2017 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Distinguished Alumni Award. She was also a 2017 honoree at the Martina Arroyo Foundation Gala. Ms. Pérez currently serves as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Guild Artists' Council and the Advisory Board for Time In Kids.



About Kaufman Music Center

Kaufman Music Center is New York’s go-to place for music education and performance. Our belief is 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 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. At Kaufman Music Center, music lovers – from curious fans to renowned performers – come together to explore their musical passions. Founded in 1952 as a community music school, today’s Kaufman Music Center is home to Merkin Concert HallLucy Moses School, a community arts school for all ages; Special Music School, NYC’s only  K-12 public school for musically gifted children; and the critically-acclaimed youth new music ensemble Face the Music.



Listings information:

Kaufman Music Center’s 2018 Gala
Honoring Lydia Kontos

Performances by Sir James Galway with Lady Jeanne Galway, and Ailyn Pérez

Date: Monday, May 14, 2018, 6:30 pm

Venue: Guastavino’s (409 East 59th St., NYC)

Individual ticket prices begin at $1000. Table prices begin at $10,000.

Festive dress.

Ticket information: 212 501 3350,,




Kaufman Music Center

129 West 67th Street,

New York, NY 10023



Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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