Third Street Music School (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Gramercy resident Loretta Marion rediscovered choral singing after her husband died almost a decade ago but has found community in a group of older adults who perform with a non-profit with origins in Annapolis that has organized in New York for the last couple of years.
The organization, called Encore, provides adults age 55 and over with singing opportunities, and the New York chapter began its new season at a new, local location for its fall season earlier this month. Encore Rocks, a rock & roll chorus that covers hits from the 50s to the 80s, and Encore Chorale, which is a choral group singing arrangements from classical and Broadway, both have a new home at Third Street Music School Settlement on East 11th Street.
Marion, 80, has lived on Third Avenue between East 18th and 19th Streets since she got married in 1968 and before that, lived in a studio apartment on East 22nd Street at Second Avenue.
“I’ve been in this neighborhood for a long time,” she said. This year, she will be a volunteer chorale master for Encore Chorale.
A rendering shows Third Street Music School after a two-year project that will include work to make the building’s facade more attractive, as well as making the building more modern inside with a state-of-the-art auditorium and a recording studio.
By Sabina Mollot
The Third Street Music School Settlement, which has been in the midst of a busy year celebrating its 120th anniversary, now has another thing to celebrate — a $5.3 million renovation. The project, which is scheduled to begin this summer, will include a state-of-the-art auditorium, a newly built ensemble practice and performance space and an adjoining recording studio.
The plan, which is already 80 percent funded, will also include an expansion to the school’s lobby and an additional staircase which will also serve to make the front of the building, currently marred by fire escapes, more attractive with some glass paneling, allowing those on the street a view inside. There will also be a new elevator installed.
“We’ve reached a point where we needed more space,” said Valerie Lewis, the school’s executive director, during a recent conversation at her office. “The demand for our programs continues to grow.”
At this time, there are close to 4,000 students at Third Street, with 1,700 of them enrolled in onsite programs. The rest learn at offsite locations around the city through partnerships with 25 other schools.
However, the school has needed upgrades at its building, located on East 11th Street between Second and Third Avenues, for a while. Originally part of the St. Mark’s Hospital complex, where nurses were housed, the building has two dates on its cornerstone, 1890 and 1926. Its current elevator is the original one, and is a “traction” elevator, meaning it uses steel rope, and is considered a freight elevator that can carry up to 3,000 lbs. The plan to renovate came out of a number of needs voiced by students and their families, in particular the recording studio, which will be located in the building’s sub-basement. Lewis noted how it’s become increasingly common for conservatories and competitive high schools – and even competitive middle and elementary schools — to require students to provide a high quality recording as part of an audition process. In addition to being able to provide that service onsite, Lewis noted that the studio will also be helpful in teaching students about subjects like sound engineering and re-mastering. She’s also mulling the possibility of putting out a Third Street album of music.
Students perform in a building-wide concert at the Third Street Music School Settlement on Saturday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The oldest community arts school in the country celebrated its 120th anniversary this past weekend with what it does best: music. Third Street Music School Settlement, which has actually been on East 11th Street since the 1970s, has been offering various celebratory events for the occasion in the last few weeks. Last Saturday, 120 pianists participated in a 15-minute concert, with kids, parent volunteers and faculty members alike playing Pachelbel’s Canon throughout the building’s hallways and rehearsal rooms.
Piano department chair Joan Forsyth, who came up with the idea for the building-wide performance, said that they ended up having even more people show up on top of those that had registered so it was actually more than 120 students participating, but spots were found for everyone.
“We were running around and pulling keyboards out of closets but everyone had a good time,” she said.
Executive director Valerie Lewis said that there were students as young as six who participated, but among the adults, aside from faculty and parents, were some of the school’s older students. Ray Sauerbrey started taking classical lessons about five years ago and recently came to Third Street for lessons because his previous teacher retired.
“It’s hard to get into a music school without classical training but (Third Street) welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “It isn’t a conservatory, it’s a community-based school and they turn away practically nobody.”
Sauerbrey noted that Third Street made it easy for all students to participate in the holiday festivities.
“They broke the Canon into pieces so it was manageable, like they do with everything else,” he said. “They reach out to your ability.”