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Nassau BOCES dedicates building as The Rosalind Joel Conservatory for Music and Theatre

Billy Joel stands with plaque of his mom

Nassau BOCES renamed the building that houses its music and theatre programs at the Long Island High School for the Arts’ (LIHSA) in honor of the mother of legendary musician and Long Island native Billy Joel. The Rosalind Joel Conservatory for Music and Theatre was dedicated in late December at the art school’s Syosset campus.  

Rosalind Nyman Joel was born on February 15, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York, to Philip and Rebecca Nyman, who had emigrated from England. In a 1942 student musical production at City College of New York, she met Howard Joel, a German immigrant whose family had escaped Nazi Germany, in 1939. World War II would interrupt their courtship, but after Howard’s service in the U.S. Army, he returned and they married in 1946.  Rosalind supported various charitable endeavors. Progressing from her strong support in assuring his musical education, the son who would reach world renown as singer-songwriter Billy Joel used his grounding in classical music to help create one of pop music’s most enduring bodies of work. His poignant song, “Rosalinda’s Eyes,” from the 1978 album, 52nd Street, is a tribute to her, derived from the family history. Rosalind Nyman Joel passed away July 13, 2014 at the age of 92.  

A longtime arts and music education advocate, Mr. Joel is a strong supporter of the Long Island High School for the arts. He held a master class for students and has visited them in their classrooms. Mr. Joel pledged $1.5 million in 2016 to LIHSA. Of this amount, he contributed $1,000,000 in 2016, $250,000 in 2017 and the final $250,000 will be donated next year. In August, Mr. Joel gave a scholarship ($20,000) to a budding pianist who recently graduated from LIHSA to attend Berklee College of Music.  

The Joel Foundation also announces a pledge for $1 million to continue support for Exploring the Arts (ETA), the non-profit organization founded by legendary singer Tony Bennett and his wife, Susan Benedetto, dedicated to strengthening arts education in public high schools. With support from the Joel Foundation, ETA will work closely with LIHSA to create exciting opportunities and rigorous instruction for its music students over the next four years. As an ETA Partner School, LIHSA will receive $100,000 and engage with ETA’s network of 27 Partner Schools in New York City for peer to peer professional development. For more information on Exploring the Arts:  

LIHSA is the only public high school for the performing and visual arts on Long Island. Over the past four decades, LIHSA has been a home and training ground for talented young artists who are actively and passionately exploring the exciting worlds of music, musical theatre, theatre technology, dance, drama, film and visual arts. Classes are taught on a college level by practicing professionals.  

Billy Joel:  Having sold 150 million records over the past quarter century, Billy Joel ranks as one of most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in history. The singer/songwriter/composer is the sixth best-selling recording artist of all time, the third best-selling solo artist and is one of the highest grossing touring artists in the world. In November 2014, Billy Joel received both The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song which honors living musical artists’ lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations, and the once-in-a-century ASCAP Centennial Award, which is presented to American music icons in recognition of their incomparable accomplishments in their respective music genres and beyond. In December 2013, Billy Joel became Madison Square Garden’s first-ever music franchise, joining the ranks of the storied venue’s other original franchises – the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty. Since January 2014, Joel has played one show per month at The Garden as part of the Time Warner Cable Concert Series. This unprecedented and wildly successful residency has led to 51 sellout shows through April 2018.  “The Greatest Arena Engagement of All Time” –says Billboard Magazine.  In December 2013, Joel received The Kennedy Center Honors, one of the United States' top cultural awards. He is also the recipient of six GRAMMY® Awards, including the prestigious Grammy Legend Award. Joel has been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has received numerous industry awards including a TONY AWARD for "Movin' Out," a Broadway musical based on Joel’s music.   

For his accomplishments as a musician and as a humanitarian, the MusiCares Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences honored Joel as the 2002 MusiCares Person Of The Year.  Joel has also performed alongside other music greats at two of Madison Square Garden’s most extraordinary benefit concerts – “12-12-12, The Concert For Sandy Relief,” which raised awareness and money for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and “The Concert for New York City,” which was held to help aid 9/11 victims and heroes.  Billy Joel was honored by Steinway & Sons with a painted portrait that hangs in Steinway Hall in Manhattan. Joel, who has been a Steinway Artist for almost 20 years, is the first non-classical pianist to be immortalized in the Steinway Hall collection. His portrait hangs alongside those of legendary musicians including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Franz Liszt, Arthur Rubinstein, Ignacy Paderewski, and more.  The portrait of Billy Joel, painted by artist and musician Paul Wyse, is one of only two living artists to be inducted into the collection, the other being Leon Fleisher.    

In 2010, Joel released “The Last Play at Shea.” The intersecting histories of a city, a team, and a music legend are examined in a documentary feature film that charts both the ups and downs of the New York Mets and the life and career of Long Island native Billy Joel, the last performer to play Shea Stadium before its demolition in 2008. Billy Joel is a long-time supporter to his beloved hometown of Long Island, though he generally goes about things quietly, his actions still generate widespread impact. He joined Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, along with the North Oyster Bay Baymen's Association and Friends of the Bay, as well as town and county officials, for the 20th annual Oyster Bay Harbor Cleanup Day in September and has participated for the past 5 years. He also has raised millions for the East Hampton Baymen's Association, which has struggled with commercial fishing bans, and even wrote "The Downeaster 'Alexa' " about their plight. Joel has also supported the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and through 20th Century Cycles, his Motorcycle Gallery, has helped reshape downtown Oyster Bay. In 2013, Joel performed at The Paramount in Huntington, L.I. to benefit Long Island Cares, a charity founded by singer-songwriter Harry Chapin.  

About Nassau BOCES

A vital regional resource, Nassau BOCES offers state-of-the-art programs for learners of all ages and abilities as well as cost-effective services for school districts and municipalities. We empower students to achieve their maximum potential in alternative, artistic, outdoor, special education, virtual, and career and technical environments. We offer adult education and a variety of programs that are vital to improving the Long Island regional economy. In addition, our technology services form the backbone of many school districts’ infrastructures. As the county’s educational leader in implementing the state’s reform efforts, we are helping to shape the future of education. To learn more, visit and like us at