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Richard Kessler bio

RIchard KesslerRichard Kessler, former Executive Director of The Center for Arts Education (CAE) and current Dean of Mannes College, is also one of the principal authors of the plan that led to the creation of the CAE in 1996, when he was serving as an arts education consultant. As a keynote speaker, conference panelist, and workshop facilitator, Kessler has been engaged by organizations such as the American Symphony Orchestra League, Association of Performing Arts Presenters and Bank Street College of Education, among others.

From 1997 to 2004, Kessler was executive director of the American Music Center (AMC), the national service and information center for new American music. During his tenure at AMC, Kessler’s accomplishments include the creation of award-winning web magazine, a nationwide career development program for composers and performers, the establishment of the American Music Center Collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the establishment of AMC’s first endowment, the creation of the National Music Coalition, and an increase in AMC grant making programs to more than $7 million between 2002-2004, including over $3 million in grants to artists and organizations that suffered losses as a result of 9/11.

From 1993 to 1997, Kessler was vice president of Artsvision, an arts education consulting company where he created and implemented arts and education programs throughout the United States and Canada. As a consultant, Kessler designed programs for school communities, arts organizations, and foundations, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, GE Fund, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, New York Community Trust, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and many others. Kessler’s work in arts education encompassed teaching, artist training, teacher professional development, program design, advocacy, curriculum development, fundraising and assessment.

Before joining Artsvision, Kessler was a Naumburg-award winning chamber musician, performing as a trombonist and teaching throughout the world for almost fifteen years. A champion of new music, Kessler commissioned and premiered works by composers including Richard Danielpour, Anthony Davis, Arvo Part, John Harbison, Ned Rorem and many others. Throughout this period, he was also busy as an teaching artist, conducting residencies, master classes, workshops and arts education programs for organizations such as Lincoln CenterMeet-The-Artist, the Kennedy Center and The Juilliard School, among others.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Kessler holds two degrees from The Juilliard School and was a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music from 1988 to 1993. He is a board member of the American Composers Orchestra, a member of the Music Advisory Committee of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, and a member of the Steering Committee of the New York City Arts Coalition. In May 2005, Kessler received a Letter of Distinction from the American Music Center, for his significant contribution to the field of contemporary American music.