The New School Welcomes Mannes to Campus

September 1, 2015
Last week, the lobby of 150 West 85th Street—Mannes School of Music's home of 31 years—was impassable. Tilted on their sides, protective blue blankets cushioning their keys, 65 grand pianos created an intricate labyrinth of beautifully carved wood. They were waiting to be ushered onto trucks—eight at a time—and whisked to their new residence at 55 West 13th Street, in Arnhold Hall.

It would still be a few weeks before Mannes students moved in, but the pianos were getting a head start, relocating, along with the music school's collection of music stands, chairs, and instruments, to a new performing arts hub on campus. Less than two years after Parsons School of Design said goodbye to its complex in the Garment District, all of The New School's colleges are at long last in one location: Greenwich Village.

It may be the end of an era for Mannes, but the next stage marks a new beginning for the leading conservatory: transformative new courses, boundary-pushing visiting artists and faculty members, and interdisciplinary collaborations. In sum, it's never been a more exciting time to be an artist at The New School.

On the eve of its centennial celebration, Mannes joins the School of Jazz and the School of Drama to form the new College of Performing Arts, with all three sharing a space in the spruced-up Arnhold Hall. The relocation is part of an exciting programmatic and pedagogical transformation that is already occurring.

Students in these schools will be able to work seamlessly across all performing arts fields, collaborating on projects, making new music, and developing innovative performances like never before. In addition, the move and consolidation offer exciting new possibilities for interdisciplinary work with faculty and peers in design, the liberal arts, and the social sciences.

During a walk-through this summer of Arnhold Hall, which was still under construction, Richard Kessler, executive dean of the College of Performing Arts, was full of anticipation.

"My staff told me not to come until most of the construction was done," he says, "but I'm just so excited to see the space. It's such a great transformation for our students. Nowhere else will they be able to get this kind of education."

Giving students the tools they need to succeed and thrive in a rapidly evolving workplace is key to the vision of the new College of Performing Arts.

"Contemporary artists must be able to rigorously test the limits of their talents while also possessing the skills to market themselves and reinvent traditional art forms," Kessler says. "At Mannes, we prepare our students not only to compose and perform for orchestras, opera companies, and chamber ensembles but also to make music in a wide range of styles and art forms."

The move downtown and increased proximity to the rest of The New School will facilitate these activities.

"We are looking forward to our new, state-of-the art home in Greenwich Village, and most important, the opportunity for our gifted students to easily access all the myriad disciplines offered across The New School, as we push forward with our new model of music education," Kessler says.

An innovative college deserves an innovative home. The 36,000 square feet of renovated facilities in Arnhold Hall offer a flexible and unified space for the performing arts. The building's first four floors now include soundproofed rooms for instruction, practice, rehearsal, and performance by music and drama students.  Once finished in late October, the ground floor will house a unique "glass box" theater for public performances, visible from the street. Another theater on the fourth floor will accommodate audiences of up to 155 for a range of performances.

The New School News
By Staff