Skip to main content

56th Annual Benefit


New York Youth Symphony to Honor Marin Alsop and Rima Vargas-Vetter at its 56th Annual Benefit Gala

The New York Youth Symphony will honor Marin Alsop with the Theodore L. Kesselman Award for Arts Education and Rima Vargas-Vetter with the Johanna and Leslie Garfield Award for Arts Philanthropy at its 56th Annual Benefit on Thursday, September 27th at 6:30PM at The Metropolitan Club.

The Benefit is the organization's largest and most important fundraising event of the year. Funds raised support the NYYS’s innovative tuition-free educational programs,  which educate and inspire young musicians through exceptional training and performance opportunities. More than 6,000 students have participated in the orchestra, jazz, chamber music, composition, and conducting programs since the founding of the NYYS in 1963. 


About the Awards:

The Theodore L. Kesselman Award for Arts Education was established in 1995 to recognize significant dedication by an individual or institution making outstanding contributions in nurturing young people in the arts. The award is named in memory of Theodore L. Kesselman, who served as the NYYS Board President from 1985-1994.

The Johanna and Leslie Garfield Award for Arts Philanthropy was established in 2015 to recognize individuals who have provided leading support to arts organizations in New York and beyond. The award is named for the Garfields, who hail from the NYYS founding family and both of whom continue to serve on its board, Leslie as its Chair.

About the Honorees:

Marin Alsop has proved that music really does have the power to change lives.  As Director of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra since 2007, Principal Conductor & Music Director of São Paulo Symphony Orchestra since 2012, and Chief Conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra from 2019, she enjoys a global reputation in repertoire that spans four centuries. Ms. Alsop has guest-conducted most of the world’s great orchestras including: Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles; the Royal Concertgebouw, La Scala Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.  

In September 2013, Ms. Alsop made history as the first female conductor of the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms in London and was immediately re-invited for 2015. Ms. Alsop is the recipient of numerous awards, including many for her extensive recordings. As a protégé of Leonard Bernstein, she was awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize and is the only conductor to receive the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. Alsop is also Director of Graduate Conducting at The Peabody Institute.  

“I am honored to receive this award from the New York Youth Symphony, of which I am an alumna. Arts education and diversifying the musical landscape are my lifelong passions. To be recognized by an organization that has an equally strong commitment to community and diversity is deeply humbling.”

Rima Vargas-Vetter was born in the United States to Cuban-German parents and grew up in the United States, Mexico, Italy, England, and France. She speaks fluent French and Italian in addition to English. Her first career, starting as a child, was in the theatre as an actor, dancer, and model. Performing in Europe with various classical and modern companies, including Les Ballets Peter Goss, and Joseph Russillo Company, Ms. Vargas-Vetter danced and choreographed for French and German television shows, as well as for the shows of various noted French performers. She also acted and danced in a number of French films. 

In the United States, Ms. Vargas-Vetter partnered with Warren Spears in the Spears Collection, co-directed with him, and did Fosse’s Dancin’ on tour. In American films, she was featured in Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club, and appeared in Tootsie. After a full theatrical career, Ms. Vargas-Vetter went back to school and earned a degree in art, major in sculpture, and minor in Art History from Parsons/The New School, and subsequently became a freelance art consultant. She has previously served on the board of Friends in Deed, and currently serves as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Elisa Monte Dance, and on the board of trustees of New York Youth Symphony.

“Being part of the NYYS brings real joy into my life. It is inspiring to work with the wonderful and talented people who lead the various programs we offer and to serve with the generous and caring board that comprises the NYYS.”