Course Descriptions


The Opera Companion: Touching Upon Romantic Era Operas and More
10:00am - 12:00pm  Instructor Jane Marsh

Join international renowned opera singer, Jane Marsh, as she follows the Metropolitan Opera season, for an in-depth tour of opera productions for the spring of 2023. The semester’s opera course will include stylistic opera diversity, including the Baroque Era, the Classical Bel Canto and Romantic Eras, and the Verismo and the Impressionistic Eras, all of which open up Ms. Marsh’s commentary on the vocal equipment and technical production needed for operas, the likes of Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Giordano, Strauss, Poulenc, Puts, and Blanchard. Jane draws from literary drama, novels, plays, and political history. The classes will be entertaining fun, all presented through a plethora of video clips. Musical training is not necessary for these classes.

Jane Marsh was the first singer to win the Gold Medal in Moscow’s International Tchaikovsky Competition. Among Verdi, Strauss and Bel Canto, her repertoire includes the signature Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov heroines. She has appeared as performer and M.C. in international and U.S. radio and television venues and since 2007, has presented Metropolitan Opera Guild lectures and master classes on Bel Canto, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Mozart, Strauss, and the Russian repertoire. She was awarded the New York Handel Medaille for exceptional contribution to the world of music.

Cinema Lecture Series
12:15pm - 1:45pm Instructor: Max Alvarez

Join Sundays at JASA film historian Max Alvarez for these 90-minute multimedia cinema history lectures featuring rare archival material and memorable sequences from classic world cinema. The Winter/Spring 2023 course schedule will feature presentations on 1973: The Year in Film, The Crime Films of Anthony Mann, The Art of Film Title Design; The Reel Fosse / Verdon; The Life, Laughs and Legend of Mae West; The History of Movie Stunts; Louis Malle -- Director/Provocateur; Makers of 'The Red Shoes': The Films of Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger; and Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward: First Couple of the Screen. Program subject to change.

Max Alvarez is a film historian who has been presenting multimedia cinema history courses for Sundays at JASA since the fall of 2013. He is the author of “The Cinéphile’s Guide to the Great Age of Cinema” (2020), “The Crime Films of Anthony Mann” (University Press of Mississippi 2013), and a major contributor to “Thornton Wilder/New Perspectives” (Northwestern University Press 2013).

What Makes It Great?  Landmarks in the Arts
2:00pm - 3:30pm Instructor: James Smith

Why do great works of art touch us so deeply, illuminating our joys and sorrows?  From the values and peaks of our love lives, to the complexities of the parent-child relationship, pieces like Shakespeare’s King Lear and Sondheim’s “Company” help us see and understand our own struggles in a new light.  We will look closely at how these landmark pieces are made, savoring the details and understanding how they relate to the whole piece.  We will delve into examples from music, painting, theatre, literature, and opera – looking across genres to see what they have in common, and how each has its own particular “tricks.”  Representative examples include Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait, Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet, Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn, and Bizet’s “Carmen.”

James Smith was the Executive Director of an educational and cultural non-profit in Cambridge, MA for many years, and has taught in adult programs at the New School and CUNY.


Get A Clue! Crossword Construction (Virtual via Zoom)
12:00pm – 1:30pm  Instructor: Natan Last 

Learn the principles of crossword puzzle construction through basic history, determining  a theme, making a usable grid, and creating the fill. A group puzzle will be submitted to the New York Times. More than twenty puzzles have been featured in the Times thus far! Will Shortz has hailed this class as “one of a kind.” Registration is capped at 25 students.

Natan Last published his first crossword puzzle in the New York Times when he was 16, then the youngest constructor to appear in the Times. Last wrote a book of crosswords, Titled Word. He has a B.A. with honors in Economics and Literary Arts from Brown University


What Just Happened? The News Today
9:00am - 10:15am  Instructor: Gregg Birnbaum

It’s Monday and what just happened in the news? Join veteran journalist and professor Gregg Birnbaum for a course examining the most important news developments of the week, at home and abroad. Politics, health care, criminal justice/policing, the economy, societal and global changes, foreign affairs, NYC politics and more will be on the table in this discussion-driven course enriched by class members sharing their views. The course will draw from major media outlets for its topics and source material. Each week, we hope to come away more informed, with a better understanding, while reflecting on major news events and having benefited from both the instructor’s insights and the differing perspectives of class members. Students are encouraged to suggest possible topics for review. 

Gregg Birnbaum is a former assistant managing editor for politics at, where he supervised coverage of national politics and the 2020 presidential campaign, as well as the White House, Congress and Supreme Court. Birnbaum also previously held senior editing positions at the Miami Herald,, the New York Daily News, Politico, and the New York Post. He teaches journalism at Baruch College and the University of Florida.

The Supreme Court: Law and Politics Collide
10:30am – 11:30am  Instructor: Leora Harpaz

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court has involved itself in numerous controversies that have had significant political ramifications. Whether it is redistricting, voting rights, abortion, guns, climate change, or immigration, just to name some of the issues, the Court’s actions have involved it in major political controversies. As the lines blur between law and what may seem to be judicial activism, many long standing procedures, achievements, and branch processes are up for review. This course will examine the Court’s recent actions in areas of political significance as well as look ahead to other issues that may reach the Court.

Leora Harpaz is an emeritus professor of constitutional law at Western New England University School of Law as well as founder of the annual Supreme Court Conference where she has been a speaker for over 20 years. Since receiving emeritus status, she has been an instructor in several senior learner programs and taught undergraduate law courses in the political science department at Hunter College. She received her B.A. from Stony Brook University, and has law degrees from both Boston University and New York University.

U.S. History: The American Presidency
11:45am – 12:45pm Instructor: Doug Brin

This course will look into an endless series of crises, conflicts, and controversy and what happens when the Presidential office becomes more powerful, fraught, and controversial. World Wars, the nuclear age, military power and the future of the republic are in the hands of a few men. This course will take a close look into the lives and the events that shaped the republic's future. Filled with personal anecdotes, fun facts, opinions and class participation, this is a unique history course that’s as entertaining as informative.

Doug Brin facilitates weekly discussion groups at the 92nd Street Y and several independent senior residences, and lectures at the JCC. He is a former feature writer for the New York Daily News, and both a history and ethics teacher at the prestigious Dalton and Ethical Culture Schools. As a visual artist, his work has been exhibited in major neighborhood galleries in Manhattan.

Art in the City: The Canvas and Beyond
1:00pm – 2:00pm  Instructor: Pamela Koehler

It doesn’t matter where it comes from, art penetrates our psyches and provides us a fresh look at the world we live in today. Through a series of virtual tours, instructor Pamela Koehler shares works from around the globe to stimulate conversation. In this course we will explore the nature of visual expression and the ways in which artists transform ideas into works that communicate across time and culture. Through lively discussion and careful observation, we will engage with works of art from museums and collections around the world, and explore new ways to connect to them virtually.

Pamela Koehler is an adjunct professor of art and art history at Adelphi University. As a teaching artist she has presented lectures, talks, and workshops at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Morgan Library, the Whitney, and the Dahesh Museum.

The Broadway Musical: Through the Decades
2:15pm – 3:30pm Instructor Kim Breden

This 10 session zoom class will examine and celebrate some of Broadways best loved musicals starting with the 1920s up to the 1960s.  Through the use of live performance videos, sound recordings, still photographs and historical lecture, participants will enjoy a deeper look into the synopses, original cast members, performance details as well as information about the composers and lyricists of these musical treasures.  This class will also offer the opportunity to listen to an array of showtune favorites and perhaps join in a sing along.

Kim Breden is the founder and executive muse of Be Mused Productions which specializes in educational entertainment.  Be Mused Children’s Theatre Company has offered musical theatre workshops for children, preschool through teen in Westchester and Dutchess Counties. In addition to directing and producing these workshops, Kim provides music programs celebrating Broadway’s greatest hits, for museums, libraries and nearly 50 Senior Residences in the tri-state area. Kim is a volunteer teaching artist and facilitator with Rehabilitation through the Arts (RTA). For the past 16 years, she has directed full musical productions and workshops in maximum and medium security prisons in New York State.

Kim's singing career has taken her around the globe, performing in Hamburg, Leipzig and Dresden, Germany, Bloemfontein and Durban, South Africa. Featured shows include Phantom of the Opera, The Merry Widow and Irene Molloy in Hello Dolly! She has also appeared in The Sound of Music, Camelot and National Tour of Annie. She has appeared as a concert guest artist with the Charleston Symphony, Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, Brevard Music Festival, Dallas Perspectives Concert Series and the Caramoor Music Festival.  She holds two bachelor’s degrees in voice and music education from the University of South Carolina.  Kim did her Masters’ training as a music therapist at SMU in Dallas where she earned her Master of Music in Vocal Performance.

Creative Writing
3:45pm – 5:00pm Instructor: Leo Schaff

This course calls on writers of all stripes, persuasions, and experiences. Memoirs, poetry, short stories, song lyrics, and letters-to-the-editor are all welcome. Find inspiration through art, music, current events, or simply hearing each other’s work. Writers are helped through writing prompts to help guide topics if needed. When it comes to writing, everything is on the table.

Leo Schaff is an actor, singer, and songwriter. A longtime Bardolator, he also teaches at the 92nd Street Y and was NY1 New Yorker of the Week for his popular Shakespeare classes for seniors throughout the city. He co-wrote “Give Us Hope,” a song performed by the San Francisco Children’s Choir at President Obama’s first Inauguration.


Through the Artist’s Eye - Drawing and Observation
9:00am - 10:00am Instructor Pamela Koehler

Explore your creativity by drawing and sketching from works of art across time and cultures. Each week we will focus on the works of a different artist, exploring techniques of value, line and composition. By observing each artist’s unique approach, we will gain insight into their way of working, and apply the lessons learned in our own drawings. No previous experience necessary. 

**A suggested materials list with inexpensive options will be provided.

Pamela Koehler is an adjunct professor of art and art history at Adelphi University. As a teaching artist she has presented lectures, talks, and workshops at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Morgan Library, the Whitney, and the Dahesh Museum.

Philosophy: The Best Things In Life
10:15am - 11:15am Instructor Greg Canada

What is the greatest good? What good is money? Can computers think like people? Guided by a close reading of Peter Kreeft’s book, The Best Things in Life, this course will undertake a Socratic investigation of these fundamental questions and will examine the role that power, pleasure, truth play in living a good life.  

Greg Canada serves as the assistant dean of admissions at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and is a lecturer on the philosophy of law for Indian University’s Hutton Honors program. Mr. Canada earned a BA in history and philosophy from Virginia Wesleyan College, summa cum laude, an MA in philosophy from Boston College, and a graduate certificate in higher education administration from Harvard University.

New York Short Stories
11:30am – 12:45pm  Instructor: Jennifer Gilchrist

New York is a city with more than a million stories of hope, dreams, fear, anger, despair, romance, luck, creativity, humor, and resilience. What better setting for the literary short story? With an emphasis on craft and perspective, we will analyze short works of irony, dark comedy, horror, bohemian romance, rocky romance, thwarted romance, expressionism, realism, character study, and family dramedy by New Yorkers and temporary-New Yorkers such as John Updike, Jesse Fauset, Emma Straub, Donald Antrim, Hannah Tinti, Oscar Hijuelos, Pete Hamill, Rick Moody, and Tama Janowitz. In addition to reading a weekly story, we will discuss the background and style of each writer, followed by a group discussion.  

Jennifer Gilchrist is a veteran New Yorker who now resides in Metro Detroit. She taught literature courses at Hunter College and has published articles in Twentieth-Century Literature and Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. In addition to her instruction at JASA, she is the review editor of Supernatural Studies: A Journal of Art, Culture, and Media. With a specialty in modernist narrative, she received her Ph.D. in twentieth-century American and British literature from Fordham University in the Bronx.

Poetry Beyond the Page: Sound, Materiality & Decomposition
1:00pm - 2:15pm Instructor: Lucia Hinojosa Gaxiola

How can poetry expand or transmute beyond the written word towards a practice for healing? Where is the liminal space of poetry located? In this course, we'll explore poetry through different mediums and concepts such as sound, performance, ecopoetics, ritual, and visual experiments. We'll read and discuss the work of Cecilia Vicuña, CA Conrad, Caroline Bergvall, Bernadette Mayer, and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, to understand how poets conceive their personal artistic principles and creative systems in order to transform the written word into action. We'll also develop our own poetic forms, creating an interdisciplinary body of work that takes these questions forward.

Lucía Hinojosa Gaxiola is an artist, poet, writer and editor whose work has taken shape across a diverse range of media. Her work explores the materiality of language, memory, sound ecology, ritual and archive through practices of expanded writing. She co-edits diSONARE, an experimental and cross-cultural editorial platform. Since 2019, she directs RIZOMA, a poet collective offering performance workshops for imprisoned women in Mexico. Her conceptual art/poetry book The Telaraña Circuit is forthcoming by Tender Buttons Press.

Global Fairy Tales
2:45pm – 4:00pm Instructor Jennifer Gilchrist

Fairy Tales are some of humankind’s oldest stories, traveling the globe for millennia. What do they tell us? What lessons can we learn from such tales? And are these tales still relevant today? These are questions we ask ourselves and many more after reading a fairy tale. Fairy tales often illuminate a slice of life to teach us who we are and the culture we know. In this course we will compare different cultural versions of the tales we know as Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, The Maiden without Hands, and The Dog and the Sea from around the world. While deepening our experience with psychological interpretations and historical context, we will explore the magic produced by ancient cultures. 

Jennifer Gilchrist is a veteran New Yorker who now resides in Metro Detroit. She taught literature courses at Hunter College and has published articles in Twentieth-Century Literature and Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. In addition to her instruction at JASA, she is the review editor of Supernatural Studies: A Journal of Art, Culture, and Media. With a specialty in modernist narrative, she received her Ph.D. in twentieth-century American and British literature from Fordham University in the Bronx.

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For more information contact or call 212.273.5304 to register.