Notable Neighbors: Linda Booz Klein & Istvan B’Racz

One of the most magical aspects of NMS is the number of students, faculty, and staff who have been part of the NMS community for decades. Today, we meet two long-time, cherished members of the NMS community: a student who first came to NMS in 1975, and a faculty member who first came to NMS when he was a child.

We are delighted to introduce you to Linda Booz Klein, in her own words:

I guess you can say that NMS has been a part of my life since 1975 when I joined the New Haven Community Chorus, which rehearsed in the NMS Recital Hall! I stopped singing some years later when my daughter, Abby Klein, was small, but Abby enjoyed and learned at NMS over many years beginning in 1992. She attended and loved Audubon Arts every summer from age 5-14; studied modern dance with Karen Davidson and then Leslie Prodis; took recorder with Julia Blue Raspe and sang in her kids’ chorus; played recorder in both small and large ensembles led by Grace Feldman; and studied violin also with Grace Feldman. And, finally, she took scene study classes with Stephen Dest for a few years.

After many years away from my own activities at NMS, and after Abby went to college, I decided it was time for me to get started with the music I’d deferred to support her activities.

Martha Oneppo taught me a great deal about singing again with her newly formed NMS Chorus, though I’d sung in many choirs beginning when I was three. I thought I’d lost my voice, but working with Martha brought it back and reminded me that I could sing and how much I loved it! Once Martha Oneppo retired, the adult NMS Chorus she’d started has been led by the wonderful Sarah Reed, and I continue to this day to enjoy all Sarah brings to us!

At a Holiday Play-In which I joined just to sing, I saw Grace Feldman and asked if I might start playing with her as my teacher. Sitting in on Abby’s lessons and ensembles, I’d become curious about how to make a stringed instrument sound. Grace welcomed me to viola da gamba lessons, and I had two-plus wonderful years with her before transferring to Rosamund Morley when Grace took a break from teaching a few years ago. I love working with Ros, too, and marvel at her skill at bringing along a player who waited too long to start, but who loves it, too!

After attending a few Cabaret performances, I also decided that I wanted to try to join one of the Cabaret classes that Anne Tofflemire taught, but they were filled. So along with friends, I pushed the NMS administration hard to get another teacher and set up a new Cabaret class at NMS. And they responded! And so for four-plus years now I have loved learning more about singing Cabaret style, and it suits me! We started with teacher Keely Baisden Knudsen, moved to Gary Harger, and now are happily working with Liz Rubino.

I like the friendly, welcoming quality of NMS – it feels very much like home after all these years.

“Linda Klein is a Cabaret teaching artist’s dream student!,” said Cabaret teacher Liz Rubino. “Always willing to dig deeply to discover nuances and subtext in her storytelling and a fearless and curious explorer, I am so grateful that Linda is such an important player in our world of Cabaret.”

Viola da gamba instructor Rosamund Morley added: “Linda has a smile which lights up the room when she comes in for her lessons. She’s a dream student because she practices diligently at home, and happily works on tiny technical details in her lessons, and when her work produces results and we come to the final cadence in the duets we play, she just beams!”

In reflecting on her years at NMS, Linda offered some wise words.

“I’ve learned that it’s not too late to start something new, and that it’s very important, as parents, to do things for ourselves! My daughter is now my biggest NMS fan!”

NMS faculty member Istvan B’Racz first came to NMS as a young student. After many years away, Istvan returned to NMS as a faculty member. He now teaches lessons in piano, composition, and music production and recording at NMS.

“NMS is really my home away from home,” said Istvan. “I love the community.”

In this video, Istvan introduces himself and shares what has him excited about NMS’s future:

Here, Istvan shows us how anyone—yes, you!—can improvise in a mode: