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Music Conservatory Honors Late Director with Music

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Friends, family, and fellow music lovers gathered at the Music Conservatory of Westchester Friday to pay tribute to the art school’s former Executive Director Carol Shiffman, who lost her battle with breast cancer on Oct. 24.

Jean Newton, the new executive director, said Shiffman helped transform the Music Conservatory of Westchester into “a hub for the arts” by adding more jazz and modern music to the White Plains-based non-profit.

“She was an amazing woman,” said Newton. “She lit up the room with her worth and her passion for the arts. She always wanted to connect people to the arts.”

The “Share the Light: Celebrating the Life of Carol Shiffman” concert Friday evening included performances from the conservatory students, faculty, and a finale by an Israeli jazz band with dance accompaniment.

Shiffman, who died at age 65, grew up in dancing in her mother’s Queens Arts Center. She eventually opened her own Momentum Dance Company in Los Angeles, where she met her husband Larry Harbison.

Shiffman led several multi-arts organizations across the country, served as the SUNY Purchase Dance Dean and began as the conservatory’s executive director in July 2009.

Harbison, 67, said the concert was a nice tribute to his wife. Shiffman always enjoyed showing students they had the power to create.

“One of the most pertinent things about her teaching was helping individuals discover their creative power. Regardless of what they did after that, young people would come and discover they could create. Later we would run into them and they would say it helped them do whatever it is that they did with their lives,” said Harbison.

The conservatory and Harbison have established The Carol Shiffman Fund to continue the late Rye resident’s work.

Rodd Berro, president of the conservatory’s board of trustees, said the fund felt appropriate because Shiffman had always been diligently pushing the conservatory forward.

“Her motto was you start on time and you end on time. Not that you didn’t get stuff done, but that it had to happen. Unfortunately she didn’t have enough time here to get all her work done. But we hope to get some of it done for her,” said Berro.

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