Manhattan School of Music announced on Wednesday that president Robert Sirota will step down from his position at the end of the academic year.
Sirota has been president of MSM, the music conservatory on 122nd Street between Broadway and Claremont Avenue, since October 2005. He previously served as director of the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University.
“Running music schools has been extremely rewarding, but it is now time for me to focus my energies on doing what I became a musician for in the first place,” Sirota, 62, said in a statement, referring to his love for composing. He said that he has had less time to focus on composition while also serving as an educator, although being president of MSM has been “vibrant and meaningful.”
In addition to his work as a school administrator, Sirota is an experienced composer and conductor. His string quartet “Triptych” was performed at Trinity Church, around the corner from Ground Zero, for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
A native New Yorker, Sirota started his musical training at Juilliard and received his Ph.D. in composition at Harvard.
Under Sirota’s tenure, the school has grown in prestige, in faculty, and in students. He established new degree programs in contemporary music performance and oversaw the completion of the school’s expansion, which began under his predecessor, Marta Istomin.
At the same time, Sirota was not the most visible figure at the school, especially among undergraduates. Nearly a dozen students exiting the school on Thursday said they were indifferent to the announcement of Sirota’s departure. Many were unaware of the news.
Sirota will stay on as a special adviser to the school, and the board of trustees will soon begin the search for a new president.
“He has helped to redefine, reposition, and focus MSM’s mission in the constantly changing landscape of those who contribute and define the world of musical content and performance,” Peter G. Robbins, chairman of the board, said in a statement. “We wish Bob well as he enters a new chapter in his career.”