Symphony Space Honors the Memory of Founding Artistic Director Isaiah Sheffer

The extended Symphony Space family is honored to have known Isaiah, and proud to be charged with the great privilege of keeping his legacy alive. “Isaiah was an incredible man, with a probing intellect, unstoppable wit, life-affirming optimism, and an enormous, embracing spirit. His vision gave New York a unique cultural institution and his imagination gave birth to some of today’s most beloved and respected programs. Even in our grief, we are laughing as we remember one great Isaiah story after another,” said Symphony Space’s Artistic Director Laura Kaminsky.

Cynthia Elliott, President & CEO of Symphony Space shared, “Isaiah was a brilliant artist and an inspired visionary who brightened many lives both here at Symphony Space and, thanks to his wonderful Selected Shorts, throughout the country. He was also the mastermind of Bloomsday on Broadway, our annual James Joyce marathon, The Thalia Follies, a political cabaret show that was an equal-opportunity skewer-fest, and several decades of Wall to Wall, the free 12-hour extravaganza that inspired Isaiah and Allan Miller to found Symphony Space in 1978. He was a delightful colleague, and we will miss him terribly.”

Isaiah Sheffer was a natural storyteller and an incredible human being. He was a talented writer, a gifted performer and he had a voice that was made for radio. He was loved by all of us at WNYC and will be missed by so many New Yorkers,” said Laura Walker, President and CEO of New York Public Radio. “Isaiah's legacy of entertainment, his generous spirit and his ability to capture the hearts and minds of so many will live on in the gifts he has left behind, including Symphony Space and WNYC’s program Selected Shorts.” Symphony Space Board Chair Steven Aresty added, "I am honored to have known Isaiah and to have so many warm memories of his quick wit, great warmth, and resounding passion for this amazing legacy that he built." Long-time friend and past Board Chair Steven M. Alden remarked, "Isaiah is the reason that all of us are galvanized around Symphony Space today. Isaiah's vision and perseverance made this special home for brilliant art and artists possible." On behalf of those who worked intimately with Isaiah for decades, Director of Literary Programs Katherine Minton said, “Isaiah’s warm and funny presence on Selected Shorts for almost 30 years engaged millions of people and connected them to books and writers in a deep and rich way. His voice and one of a kind personality will be greatly missed."

Symphony Space is currently planning a memorial service for Isaiah to be hosted in the theatre that Isaiah helped to build. This will be an opportunity for friends, family, colleagues, and the community to gather and pay tribute. Isaiah touched the lives of so many, and we hope to offer a place where great stories about a great man can be shared. "Neither James Joyce nor I ever had a better friend and champion. Isaiah was a giant and we will not see his like again. I shall miss him forever,” said Isaiah’s friend and frequent Bloomsday on Broadway showstopper Fionnula Flanagan. “Isaiah shared the arts with all of us and made the world a better and a happier place. I will miss him terribly,” remarked another close friend, Jane Curtin.

Please check to share your thoughts and for more details on the memorial service, currently being planned for early December 2012.