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Achievement in the Arts Award


Established in 2012, The Achievement in the Arts Award will be presented to a distinguished Pingry alumnus, alumna, or former teacher in recognition of their contribution to the arts.  An awardee must be recognized by their professional community as having made a significant contribution in their art form.

Click here to learn more about the inaugural inductees.

To nominate an alumnus, alumna, or former teacher, please complete the nomination form or contact Ashley Jesse, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, at (908) 647-7058 or


2013 Achievement in the arts awardees

The 2013 award presentation was held during Reunion Weekend on Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. in the Macrae Theatre of The Hostetter Arts Center on the Basking Ridge Campus.

Adam Kalkin ’80
Internationally-Renowned Architect

Mr. Kalkin is an internationally-renowned architect. He thrives on the challenge of repurposing traditional objects and loves the idea of re-using discarded industrial materials that were created in other places for other reasons. Kalkin graduated from Pingry in 1980 and attended Vassar College and London’s prestigious Architectural Association School of Architecture before embarking on his accomplished career.

Some of Kalkin’s works include his New Jersey hybrid house which appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine section in 2001, his own house in Bernardsville created by encasing an 1880's farmhouse in a cavernous prefab aircraft hangar, and an exhibition building at The Shelburne Museum in Vermont that was a prefabricated building made of three trans-oceanic shipping containers housed within a commercially produced metal shell. He created the made to order quick house, that lets you select add-ons like an a la carte menu, and designed the ''Suburban House Kit,''—a fully furnished two-story, two-and-one-half-bath, three-bedroom structure made from five shipping containers.

Kalkin unveiled the Push Button House in 2005 at Art Basel Miami. The Push Button House is a shipping container with motorized walls that unfolded like an elaborate Murphy bed to reveal an interior with refined, high-end furnishings. A variation of his Push Button House was exhibited at the 2007 Venice Biennale, arguably the most important stage for the international contemporary art world. In 2008 Kalkin’s work was included in the landmark architectural exhibit Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2011, Adam Kalkin created a “pop-up pirate radio tower,” a vertical installation of shipping carts at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, at Australia’s Melbourne University.

Among Kalkin’s most ambitious projects to date is his design of a mobile children’s museum of contemporary art, MUMO, a shipping container transformed into a portable museum. He has also transformed containers into indoor play areas for underprivileged Russian children, and designed disaster relief housing.

Kalkin has guest lectured at the Whitney Museum twice, and been exhibited at the Prado Museum in Spain, in addition to holding exhibitions in many other countries around the world. Kalkin has been featured on programs, videos, and interviews on MTV, CNN, in the NY Times online, TED talks, BBC television, and Dwell magazine. He is currently working on a church, an urban brownstone project in New York City, and a retail prototype.

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Donald W. Johnston, Jr. ’62*
Renowned Arranger, Orchestrator, and Conductor

Donald W. Johnston, Jr. is a renowned arranger, orchestrator, and conductor of Broadway musicals, composer of piano music, and jazz pianist. While at Pingry he sang in the Buttondowns and Glee Club. Johnston graduated Magna Cum Laude with his B.A. in music and Masters of Musical Arts in piano and composition from Yale University. He spent a post-graduate year studying composition with Wolfgang Fortner at Staatliche hochschule fur Musik in Freiburg, Germany as a Fullbright Scholar.

On Broadway, he was arranger and conductor for many hit shows, including 42nd Street and Nicholas Nickleby. Johnston’s arrangements and orchestrations for the musical theatre were heard in Grossingers, The Last Resort; The Night of the Hunter; Entirely Sophie; Oh Kay, Leave it to Jane, Miss Liberty, Bloomer Girl; Marilyn, An American Fable; and A Broadway Musical. His musical The Melody Lingers On, a tribute to the music of Irving Berlin, is frequently performed in regional theaters across the country.

As a jazz pianist, he performed regularly at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City from the time of its opening in 1995, and frequently toured the U.S. and Europe as a soloist and as a quartet leader. Johnston released a number of albums, including “There’s No Forgetting You,” “TransAtlantic Crossing,” and “Some of My Best Friends,” featuring his solo and ensemble jazz playing, and “New Singers New Songs 1993 and ’94,” featuring original jazz songs written with lyricist Tricia Tunstall.

Mr. Johnston’s recordings include Superman: The Ultimate Collection; Titanic: The Ultimate Collection; Monster Mania; The Night of the Hunter; Strike Up the Band; and 42nd Street.

As a composer, he wrote numerous chamber works and pieces for solo piano, as well as two musicals produced Off-Off-Broadway in the 1980s. He served as composer in residence at the Bennington Chamber Music conference in the early 1990s.

In addition, Johnston was a dedicated teacher and mentor. As longtime faculty member at the Trinity School in New York, he wrote and arranged a series of fully staged cabaret shows featuring classic composers of the Great American Songbook. Mr. Johnston passed away in 2002.

William Michals ’82
American Stage Actor and Baritone Singer

William Michals is an American stage actor and baritone singer—his magical voice has earned him the moniker “America's Baritone”. While at Pingry he participated in the Balladeers and the Men’s Glee Club before attending Boston University.

Michals made his Broadway debut as The Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and later returned to play Gaston in the same production. He has appeared in the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific at Lincoln Center, played Javert in Les Miserables, Billy Flynn in Chicago, Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, Harold Hill in The Music Man, and the title role in Phantom of the Opera. A recipient of the prestigious Anselmo Award, Michals also earned recognition by Chicago’s “Jeff” and the National STAR awards for his portrayal of Chauvelin in the recent national tour of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Audiences across the country have enjoyed him as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music.

Not only has he played the great theatrical venues of the nation, including Carnegie Hall, Broadway’s fabled Palace Theatre, LA’s Ahmanson and D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, but he’s also entertained in New York’s finest rooms, including the Rainbow Room, The Four Seasons, and the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza. In addition, Michals opened the December 11, 2001 memorial service at Ground Zero with a solo, a cappella rendition of "Let There Be Peace On Earth", which has been rebroadcast worldwide over network TV, CNN, National Public Radio, and the internet.

Michals has appeared on many popular television series including “Law and Order", "All My Children", and "The Guiding Light." Following the success of his live CD, william michals broadway in concert, Michals is currently collaborating with some of the extraordinary creative talents behind Sarah Brightman, Josh Groban, and Charlotte Church, fusing a myriad of musical styles and providing a dark baritone sound to the “classical crossover” market.

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