Nassau BOCES recently renamed the building that houses its music and theatre programs at the Long Island High School for the Arts’ (LIHSA) in honor of the mother of legendary musician and Long Island native Billy Joel. The Rosalind Joel Conservatory for Music and Theatre was dedicated at the art school’s Syosset campus.
Rosalind Nyman Joel was born on Feb. 15, 1922, in Brooklyn to Philip and Rebecca Nyman, who had emigrated from England. In a 1942 student musical production at City College of New York, she met Howard Joel, a German immigrant whose family had escaped Nazi Germany in 1939. World War II would interrupt their courtship, but after Howard’s service in the U.S. Army, he returned and they married in 1946. Rosalind supported various charitable endeavors. Progressing from her strong support in assuring his musical education, the son who would reach world renown as singer-songwriter Billy Joel used his grounding in classical music to help create one of pop music’s most enduring bodies of work. His poignant song, “Rosalinda’s Eyes,” from the 1978 album 52nd Street, is a tribute to her, derived from the family history. Rosalind Nyman Joel passed away July 13, 2014, at the age of 92.
A longtime arts and music education advocate, Joel is a strong supporter of the Long Island High School for the Arts. He conducted a Master Class for LIHSA students and has visited them in their classrooms. Joel pledged $1.5 million in 2016 to LIHSA. Of this amount, he contributed $1 million in 2016, $250,000 in 2017 and the final $250,000 will be donated next year. In August, Joel gave a scholarship ($20,000) to a budding pianist who recently graduated from LIHSA to attend Berklee College of Music.
The Joel Foundation also announced a pledge of $1 million to continue support for Exploring the Arts (ETA), the nonprofit organization founded by legendary singer Tony Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto, dedicated to strengthening arts education in public high schools. With support from the Joel Foundation, ETA will work closely with LIHSA to create exciting opportunities and rigorous instruction for its music students over the next four years. As an ETA partner school, LIHSA will receive $100,000 and engage with ETA’s network of 27 partner schools in New York City for peer-to-peer professional development.
For more information on Exploring the Arts, visit www.exploringthearts.org.
LIHSA is the only public high school for the performing and visual arts on Long Island. Over the past four decades, LIHSA has been a home and training ground for talented young artists who are actively and passionately exploring the exciting worlds of music, musical theater, theater technology, dance, drama, film and visual arts. Classes are taught on a college level by practicing professionals.