Recent Passings:

Casey Benjamin, LaG '96

Casey Benjamin died on March 30 in Maryland. He was 45. Casey Benjamin was born in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York, where he learned to play saxophone at the age of 8. He went on to study music at the Harlem School of the Arts and Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, performing with local jazz crews, New York mainstays like Arto Lindsay, and, later, Robert Glasper, with whom he collaborated in the late 1990s before joining the first iteration of Robert Glasper Experiment in 2004. He also formed the funk outfit Heavy with Nicole Guiland in the 2000s. As well as performing live solo shows, Benjamin built a formidable list of collaborators, on record and on the road, in jazz, rap, and R&B, as well as further afield; in interviews, he alluded to working with Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Nas, and Arcade Fire.


Barbara Kahan, M&A '58

Barbara Kahan (nee Kusher) passed away on March 29, 2024 at the age of 82. She attended the High School of Music and Art and graduated in 1958. Barbara was a loving and devoted daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. She enjoyed a varied and interesting career and made many new friends when she moved to Mercy Ridge in 2017. With her beloved husband of 60 years, Gerald (Jerry) Kahan, she enjoyed a full and wonderful life filled with family, friends, domestic and international travel, music, ballroom dance, plus loads of fun, laughter, and love. She will be greatly missed by her family and many friends.


Julie Belafonte, M&A '46

Julie Robinson Belafonte died on March 9 in Los Angeles. She was 95. Julia Mary Robinson was born on Sept. 14, 1928, in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. She attended the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan (now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts), where she was an art student. Around the age of 16, Ms. Robinson won a scholarship to the newly opened Katherine Dunham School of Dance in Manhattan and left high school to pursue a dance career. She soon worked her way up to student-teacher at the school; among her students were Marlon Brando and Alvin Ailey, who was to gain fame as a dancer, choreographer and director. Belafonte was best known for her work in the civil rights movement alongside her husband during their 50-year marriage. Alongside her husband, Belafonte joined in the fight for civil rights, including taking part in the legendary marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in support of voting rights.  Belafonte also fundraised for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and co-founded its women’s division. In her later years she produced two documentaries: “Ritmo del Fuego” (2006), about African cultural heritage in Cuba and the Caribbean, and “Flags, Feathers and Lies” (2009), about the resilience of the Mardi Gras Indian tradition in New Orleans.


Corinne Greenberg, M&A '45

Corinne Phyllis Greenberg died in Miami, FL on March 17, 2024 from natural causes. Corinne Greenberg, nee Zuckerman, was born in New York City on December 26, 1928, and raised in the Bronx with her brother Donald Zuckerman. Her love of music was lifelong, playing both the piano and flute as a child; she graduated from the High School of Music and Art with a major in voice and later studied piano at the Manhattan School of Music. Corinne believed deeply in the importance of philanthropy as a way to enhance the lives of the underprivileged. As long-time directors of The Starr Foundation, she and her husband Maurice R. Greenberg sought to support countless medical, social, and cultural institutions around the world, but particularly in New York City where she and her husband proudly resided. Corinne was also Chair of the National Board of Young Audiences/ Arts-for-Learning, having started serving on their board in 1984. As a strong proponent of public education, she cherished this work because she believed in the transformative power that the performing arts can have on children from all walks of life.


Joyce Hardley Brady, LaG '93

Joyce Elaine (Hardley) Brady peacefully departed this world on February 12, 2024, in Queens, New York, at the age of 48. Joyce pursued a career in nursing, becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse through the Vocational Education and Extension Board on January 6, 2004. She was an invaluable member of the healthcare industry, dedicating 20 years to serving her community at Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Highland Care, and Bridge View Nursing Facility in New York.  Beyond her professional career, Joyce was a kindhearted, generous, funny, and talented individual who had a deep love for music, particularly gospel and R&B. She had a passion for dancing and singing, which she cultivated while attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School.


Leonard Sirowitz, M&A '50

Leonard Sirowitz passed away at home in Manhattan on Monday, March 4, 2024 surrounded by his loving family. The son of Abraham and Sadie Sirowitz, Len was born in Brooklyn in 1932, grew up in The Bronx, and met the love of his life, Mickey, at the High School of Music & Art in 1950. After graduating from Pratt Institute, Len had an illustrious career at Doyle Dane Bernbach at the height of the creative revolution, and led his own agency, Rosenfeld, Sirowitz, Humphrey & Strauss for nearly three decades. A giant in the field, Len was known for his groundbreaking ad campaigns for consumer products and political causes. In retirement, he pursued his passion for drawing at the Art Students League.


Benjamin Lanzarone, M&A '56

Ben Lanzarone, born October 28, 1938, celebrated composer/arranger/musical director/pianist, passed away on February 16, 2024 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 85 years old.Born and raised in Brooklyn, Ben enjoyed a career encompassing a broad range of musical experience. He graduated from the famed High School of Music and Art in New York and earned a double master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music. He began as a classical pianist, traveling the country as soloist with the Longines Symphonette and making his solo debut at Carnegie Recital Hall. It was for his work composing television scores that won Ben the prestigious ASCAP “Most Performed Composer” award. In addition to his numerous professional accomplishments, Ben was proud to have lent his time and talents to many charitable organizations, including The Variety Club, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and The Entertainment Community Fund.


Dr. Jerrold Ross, M&A '51

Dr. Jerrold Ross, 88, passed away peacefully at Calvary Hospital on February 1, 2024. He studied piano at the High School of Music and Art and at Juilliard’s Pre-College program. Dr. Ross earned a B.A. and B.S. at Queens College, and a Ph.D. from NYU. In 1997, Emerson College awarded him the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters. Dr. Ross taught music in the Syosset and Great Neck Schools, and at The Dalton School. In 1963, he joined the faculty of The New York College of Music and in 1965 was appointed President, becoming the youngest college President in America at the age of 30. In 1995, he was named Dean of the School of Education at St. John’s University. In 2006, he was awarded the President’s medal for Distinguished Achievement at St. John’s. He retired in 2014 as Dean Emeritus and as the longest- tenured Dean in the School’s history. From 1969 to 2003, Dr. Ross was President of the Board of Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, the nation’s leading summer arts camp for children, ages 6-19. A new building, Usdan’s Jerrold Ross Discovery Center, was dedicated in 2006. Dr. Ross was also a former board member of A&F.


Rena Feuerstein Strauch, M&A '51

Rena passed away peacefully at home at 89, just a few months shy of her 90th birthday. Rena was also a skilled piano player and avid musician, and, upon discovering the High School of Music and Art, she knew she had to find a way to attend.  She researched how to apply, commuted uptown on her own for an audition, and was thrilled to be accepted. Among her many lifelong accomplishments, Rena was also a pioneer in creating the egalitarian alternative services at Beth El Synagogue Center of New Rochelle, NY, where she proudly chanted from the Book of Ruth.  Additionally, Rena served as president of the Beth El’s sisterhood, taught Hebrew for many years, and led a Hebrew book club.


Zita Carno, M&A '52

Zita Carno died on Dec. 7 in an assisted living facility in Tampa, Fla. She was 88. Her cousin Susanna Briselli said the cause was heart failure. Ms. Carno had moved to Tampa with her mother after her retirement from the Los Angeles Philharmonic to be near the spring training facility of the Yankees, her favorite baseball team. Zita Carnovsky was born on April 15, 1935, in Manhattan and grew up in the Bronx. She graduated from the High School of Music and Art in New York and, in 1952, received honorable mention for a piece she wrote for violin and piano in a composition contest conducted by the New York Philharmonic’s Young People’s Concerts. When she made her debut at Town Hall in Manhattan in 1959, the New York Times critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote that she was “without a doubt one of the major young American talents, with splendid technical equipment, brains and finesse.” A veteran of 25 years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, she was known as much for her eccentricities as for her exceptional musicianship. Please read the full obituary about Ms. Carno in the New York Times here.