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‘The Best Audience Member’ Gives Back: Mary Riebold

Mary Riebold

As a lifelong fan of MSM, Mary Riebold is delighted to ensure the future of fun, quality performances for audiences to experience in years to come.

On a spring night in 1982, the audience hushed as the lights lowered in Manhattan School of Music’s Borden Auditorium. The program included the American premiere of a rarely performed opera by Alexander von Zemlinsky, and John Crosby was on the podium. The New York Times review would state that the School was “to be thanked for bringing it to us. And for bringing it to us in such a solid production.”

Seated in the hall was Mary Riebold, and that production was her first taste of the rich offerings available each season at 130 Claremont Avenue. “That evening at MSM just picked me up by the nape of my neck,” Mary remembers. “How such bright young talent can make the story leap off the stage (and out of the pit) was truly incredible.”

Mary is a trained mathematician, whose professional career included long-held positions as an actuary. She recently retired from the international law firm of Shearman & Sterling, here in New York, after 23 years. While at William Mercer in Washington, D.C., she influenced new laws and IRS regulations regarding the evaluation of liability for pensions.

While numbers filled her work hours, her passions focused elsewhere. “I had two framed posters in my office,” she tell us. “One was about opera, the other wine. If a potential client came in and did not comment on either, I immediately thought ‘not for me’ and assigned the case to another staff member.”

Her pursuit of those passions has taken her around the world, to festivals in Berlin, Sarasota, Seattle, Buxton and Santa Fe (where she has stayed annually at the same inn for 35 years). She also loves the piano, and the melodies of Purcell and Grieg can currently be heard emanating from her New York City apartment.

Mary is quite content to be, in her words, “the best audience member.” She comes to each performance without preconceived notions and refrains from comparing today’s singers with those of the past.

While she loves Wagner, contemporary works intrigue her as well. “I recently read the history of opera at MSM in the School’s Centennial Book,” Mary tell us. “The list of opera productions demonstrates another reason why I support MSM: its adventurous programming and the merits, beauty, and often the fun of every presentation.”

Mary’s consistent annual support of Manhattan School of Music took on another dimension when she made the School a beneficiary of an IRA through a generous planned gift. It is her way of ensuring that music of quality and excellence (and fun!) will be available for generations to come. “I’m not rich,” she explains. “But I saved what I could.”

While the New York Times thanked our School for that premiere in 1982, we are thankful that we gained a devoted audience member, donor, friend and lifelong fan.

Also a fan? Impact the future of Manhattan School of Music when you include a gift to us in your will or other estate plan. Please contact Susan Madden at 917-493-4115 or to learn more about how to create a legacy that meets your financial needs and charitable goals.

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