Cynthia Elliott is President and CEO of Symphony Space. She began serving as Executive Director in August 2003 and was promoted in the 2010 season. Prior to joining Symphony Space, Ms. Elliott owned Elliott Media Services Inc., an arts marketing company. Before establishing her company, she served as a vice president for Sony Classical where she headed the label's editorial and new media activities for six years. Under her leadership, Sony Classical received the prestigious International Association of Web Masters and Designers' 2002 Golden Web Award and the 1999 ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for Excellence in Music Writing.
Ms. Elliott began her career in classical music by studying conducting at Stanford University, attending the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, receiving a certificate in Arts Administration from UC Berkeley, and subsequently teaching music in a public school district near San Francisco. She was appointed administrator for all arts programs in that school district and thereafter moved on to numerous senior management positions in other arts-related and non-profit programs, including Feedback Productions, the Center for Investigative Reporting, Winton/Dupont Films, The Asia Society, and the St. Ann Center for Restoration and the Arts. A native of New York City, Ms. Elliott has also served as chair of the Board of Trustees for the Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn Heights.
Laura Kaminsky serves as the Artistic Director of Symphony Space. She has held this position since 2010/2011. She was the Music Curator for Symphony Space's 2007/08 and 2008/09 seasons and Associate Artistic Director for 2009/10.
Kaminsky was most recently Dean of the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College/SUNY where she is currently professor of music. From 1999-2004 she served as Chair of the Department of Music at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA. She is also Co-founder and Artistic Director of Musicians Accord, a new music collective based in New York, in residence at City College, and dedicated to 20th and 21st century chamber music.
Prior positions included Vice President for Programs at Meet the Composer, Director of the European Mozart Academy in Poland, an international post-graduate chamber music program; and Director of Music and Theater Programs at The New School, Artistic Director of The Town Hall, and Associate Director of Education at the 92nd Street Y.
Laura Kaminsky's compositions are frequently performed across the U.S. and abroad, including West Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America, at venues as diverse as Wigmore Hall in London and Glinka Hall in St. Petersburg. Her music is distributed by Subitomusic.com and is recorded on the CRI, Mode, and Capstone labels. A double CD of her music on the Parma label is slated for release in 2013.
She has been a guest composer at Boston Conservatory; Mannes College of Music; Sarah Lawrence College; Wolfson Center for National Affairs at the New School; Vernon Center for International Affairs at NYU; National Academy of Music at Winneba, Ghana; Music Conservatory of St. Petersburg, Russia; Synthesis International Festival of New Music in Skopje, Macedonia; National Music Academy in Bratislava, Slovakia; and at the Union of Composers and Musicologists at the National Conservatory of Music and the Naregatsi Art Institute in Yerevan, Armenia, among others.
Ms. Kaminsky has received commissions, fellowships, and awards as a composer and presenter, including from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund, Chamber Music America, American Music Center, CEC ArtsLink International Partnerships, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission, North Carolina Council on the Arts, PONCHO, Jordan Foundation, Jack Straw Productions, Virgil Thomson Foundation, Allen Foundation, Meet The Composer, and others, and has held residencies in a number of artist communities. She received her B.A. from Oberlin College, and her master's degree in Music from the City College of New York.
Founding Artistic Director Isaiah Sheffer (1935-2012) was the co-founder of Symphony Space and director/host of Selected Shorts on stage and on the radio. He passed away in November 2012 following complications from a stroke, and a memorial was held for him at Symphony Space in December 2012 featuring friends and family.
Learn about his life and work, read remembrances and tributes from friends and fans, and watch a video from the memorial celebration in our special section, Remembering Isaiah Sheffer.
Along with his good friend and co-founder Allan Miller, in 1978 Isaiah transformed a crumbling building on the corner of 95th Street and Broadway into the vibrant arts institution known today as Symphony Space. They brought the neighborhood together around Wall to Wall Bach, a free 12-hour music marathon in which the audience was invited to join in. Wall to Wall would become a signature event and included themes from Beethoven to Bernstein and from John Cage to Joni Mitchell.
Another of his ideas was Bloomsday on Broadway, an annual reading of James Joyce's Ulysses, which over 30 years later still takes place on June 16th, the day in 1904 when Leopold Bloom, the author's fictional Irish Jew, walks the streets of Dublin and reveals his interior life. More than 100 actors and other notables take part in readings that last seven hours or more. It was from Bloomsday on Broadway that Isaiah and the then producer of literary Programs, Kay Cattarulla, came up with the idea for Selected Shorts.
Over 30 years later, Selected Shorts is co-produced by WNYC New York and distributed on Public Radio International. It is still a popular, live stage performance and public radio program carried on over 150 stations around the country.
Isaiah also loved politics and political theater which led to his development of The Thalia Follies political cabaret series, now in its ninth season of songs, sketches, and satire.
His radio, television, and film credits are extensive and included work as a commentator on the arts for WNYC's weekly radio column Around New York; producer/writer for The Road to the White House, a 20-minute public affairs series for NBC-TV (Emmy Nomination); director/writer for A Christmas Revel, NBC-TV Christmas Eve special, starring Dustin Hoffman and John Langstaff; writer for Millennium: Ten Centuries of Music, the television series funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (Program #1, "Music in the 12th Century" winner of Gold Medal, Houston Film Festival); writer, new English translation of libretto to Stravinsky's Story of a Soldier, for a New York City PBS production; writer, Paganini, The Devil's Violinist, PBS video drama about Paganini; director/writer, The DMZ Cabaret, New York City PBS satirical series; director/writer, Oath of Office: The Inauguration Story, NBC-TV; writer/director, The Last Chapter, award-winning historical documentary film on 1,000 years of Polish-Jewish history; and producer/director for Theatre Studio radio drama series, WEVD, New York. Mr. Sheffer wrote the book and lyrics for the musicals Yiddle with a Fiddle and The Rise of David Levinsky. His last play was Dreamers and Demons: The Three Worlds of Isaac Bashevis Singer.