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Class Notes

DISTINGUISHED GRADUATESHonoring Alumni Eastman and Simon recognize alumni with annual awards.

Distinguished Alumni Award

alumni-honorsGene Scheer (Photo: Adam Fenster)

Gene Scheer ’81E, ’82E (MM), a widely recognized composer and librettist, received the Eastman School of Music’s Distinguished Alumni Award this spring.

In work that spans art songs, song cycles, oratorios, and operas, Scheer has earned accolades for his collaborations with many of the leading musical artists and performers of his era, including Steven Stucky, Tobias Picker, Wynton Marsalis, Jennifer Higdon, and Joby Talbot.

At this spring’s Eastman commencement ceremony, Scheer’s longtime collaborator, Jake Heggie, addressed the Class of 2017. The two have worked together on several projects, including Out of Darkness and Into the Fire (presented by Eastman Opera Theatre this year), the critically acclaimed opera Moby-Dick, the opera Three Decembers, the choral opera The Radio Hour, and the lyric drama To Hell and Back.

The duo also worked on an operatic adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life, which received its world premiere by Houston Grand Opera in December 2016.


Distinguished Alumnus Award

alumni-honorsJoseph Abrams (Photo: Simon Business School)

Joseph Abrams ’74S (MBA), who serves as a managing member of the Cicero Consulting Group, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in June from the Simon Business School.

A successful entrepreneur, Abrams founded The Software Toolworks (a developer, publisher, and distributor of educational and entertainment software) and Intermix, the predecessor company to MySpace, which was later sold to News Corp. An executive leader, he has been an influential investor in such companies as Akeena Solar, the first publicly traded integrator and installer of home and small-business solar panels in the United States.

After earning an MBA from Simon, he embarked on a 40-year career as a leading expert in technology, drug discovery technology services, consumer products, big data, online job placement, among other areas.

A member of the Simon National Council, Abrams serves on the Simon School Venture Capital Fund Board and is a member of the San Francisco Bay Regional Cabinet. He and his wife, Patricia, are members of the George Eastman Circle, the University’s leadership annual giving society.