President's Message

John J. Cimino, Jr. Co-founder, President & CEO

John Cimino with his friend, Don Quixote

Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open

From the very beginning, when co-founder, Rich Albagli, and I first envisioned creating a company of our own, there were two things that were givens. First, that the company would be a nonprofit powered by ideas and values rather than by financial gain, and second, that it would be a laboratory for the exploration of our dreams, our big probing questions about how the world worked and how we might be able to make a difference in the lives of others through whatever we did.

The music fell on us like rain, like a thundercloud bursting, then in sheets and torrents of pure joy.

This was 1972 and we were both two freshly minted scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who seemed to love the arts and humanities as much as we loved our sciences. Poetry, philosophy and literature spoke powerfully to our inner experience, and music, above all, seemed a direct link to our essence as human beings, to our soul’s depth and heart’s desire. It was a pull we could not resist and so we took the dive to explore how these ‘two worlds’ might be brought closer together. Little did we know, this exploration would carry us 40 plus years into our futures with no signs of abatement, no diminishment of curiosity or our love of learning. Most of all, we could never have imagined all the extraordinary people we would meet, those who would join our ranks, those who would guide us, those who would open their hearts and minds to ours, those who would choose to support and advance our work in dozens of countries around the globe. Without question, we have been blessed.

In any given year, we find ourselves happily surprised by new challenges and opportunities. This past year, it was an amazing three weeks in Australia working catalytically among business, university and government leaders, but linked also to an incredible 4-day stretch in the Australian Outback making music with children of the draught besieged, economically devastated community of Longreach. We listened to, coached and encouraged the young singers, musical ensembles and soloists at each of the grade levels K-12, enjoyed meals together and then combined forces for a grand and hugely exciting evening performance at the magnificent Qantas Museum. Moms, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers, little sisters and brothers, the entire town filled the exhibit hall to over-flowing. The music fell on us like rain, like a thundercloud bursting, then in sheets and torrents of pure joy. It was an experience none of us will ever forget.

We are a company of dreamers, purposeful dreamers who dream with eyes wide open. T.E. Lawrence called such men and women “dangerous”, “for they may act on their dreams with open eyes and make them possible”. I think that’s a legacy we can live with. For like our great friend, Don Quixote, we are intent on changing the world, one small impossible task at a time. We have never been afraid of hard work, we love the work we do. We are not intimidated by the long haul, the uphill trek or the absence of a clear path. We have chosen to make our own path, to invent the majority of our tools, to be explorers and problem- solvers. But most important of all, we are committed to making a difference in the world with every project we undertake, especially among those with the fewest advantages. This is the dream we dream every day with eyes wide open.

Our History, Our Uniqueness, Our Vision

Since our founding, we have been on a journey of discovery , original thinking and invention. Two seed ideas have guided us: the power of the arts to inspire and transform our thinking, learning and sense of self; and the potency of interdisciplinary , cross-boundary thinking to reveal new insights, new perspectives, new connections across the diverse expanse of human knowledge. In other words, we believe in the arts as a powerful catalyst for change, and in “connectivity”, that ever-curious, boundary leaping inclusionary impulse in our thinking, as a key to both creativity and knowledge integration.

I don’t know of another organization driven by this pair of ideas, nor any whose work and creative output have generated the breadth of productivity and service forthcoming from our modest nonprofit. You may not until recently have known our name, but as someone culturally attuned to the wider world, you have probably heard about what we have been doing with the arts – in business, government, higher education, international affairs and, of course, among school children.

We have been helping world leaders to reflect and think differently. We have been cultivating creative problem-solvers and change agents. We have been priming young entrepreneurs and building bridges to cultures on the other side of the planet. We have been leading recovery and resilience initiatives for first responders, and training teachers and school leaders to teach and lead from their values. 

Find out more about our history →

In our world, music is never just music. It is revolutionary. It is the sound of ideas!

Artist’s Roster & Senior Faculty

Each of the artists on our roster is an awarding-winning performer of the highest caliber, a true soloist possessed of impeccable technique and performance credentials that span the globe. Their musical gifts, personal dedication and well-traveled perspectives are integral to what they bring to every performance here at home, whether for avid concert goers, underserved audiences, school children, business leaders or scientists. They bring excellence to their music-making, but also character and an ethic of service to their audiences. The music, after all, is a gift to be shared.

Additionally, each of our artists is a skilled “teaching artist” for whom music itself is not necessarily the ultimate destination but rather a gateway to a broader and more diverse world of ideas, learning and understanding. They are ambassadors of their art forms and spokespersons for the value of art in our lives. In their hands, music speaks to our shared humanity and highest aspirations. It is mind-opening. It is the sound of ideas!

Timeline & Milestones: Associated Solo Artists

Since our founding, we have been on a journey of discovery , original thinking and invention.

We believe in the arts as a powerful catalyst for change, and in boundary leaping “connectivity” as a key to both creativity and knowledge integration.

We are Associated Solo Artists (ASA) and for more than 40 years, we have been extending the reach of the arts into multiple fields of endeavor, making a difference through the arts in communities and among institutions on five continents. We invite you to peruse our Timeline and Milestones to learn more about our history, projects and partnerships around the world.

View our full timeline →

  • 2016
  • Keynote Concert of Ideas for Society for College and University Planning
  • Creative Leaps partners with US State Department in Algeria
  • Starbucks Servant Leadership Project
  • 2005
  • Arts & Business Council Conference collaboration with James Wolfensohn
  • Historic Concert at Troy Music Hall
  • “Leadership for Turbulent Times”, Center for Creative Leadership
  • 1994
  • Founding of Creative Leaps International (1992)
  • “The Great Dinosaur Rescue” premiere: New York State Imagination Celebration
  • Vartan Gregorian and John Cimino begin their dialogue on knowledge integration
  • 1983
  • Adkins & Cimino win Pavarotti International Voice Competition (1981)
  • Bucky Fuller approves ASA’s first Concert of Ideas “Winged Man- Everyman”
  • Cimino and Albagli found Associated Solo Artists (1972)
  • 1972
  • View our full timeline →

Clients & Partners

We have had the opportunity to forge relationships with an extraordinary array of organizations, both regional and global. Some, like ourselves, in the non-profit sector, others like the major corporations, from the for-profit sector. Many have been schools, colleges and universities, others arts councils, performing arts centers, opera companies and symphony orchestras. A number have been among the world’s premiere leadership and research institutions, many others from the broad array of professional associations in many fields. A good number have been community and social service organizations, others national relief, recovery and resilience organizations. An increasing number have been global institutions, such as the United Nations, and branches of our own government including the White House and our US State Department.

We have worked with children, scholars, artists, scientists, college students, researchers, front line workers, managers, executives, emerging leaders, first responders, mental health professionals, architects, rocket scientists, university presidents, teens at risk, battered women, religious leaders, thought leaders, student teachers, veteran teachers, school leaders, young entrepreneurs, global masters of entrepreneurship, creativity experts, inventors, sisters from religious orders, change agents, military leaders, and young dreamers on five continents, who like ourselves, believed and still believe, we can change the world.

Our Supporters & Funders

To our funders and supporters over the years, our gratitude is eternal and best expressed in the work you enabled us to do. At every turn, you opened us to new opportunities, new horizons and the deep learning that comes from doing, making and sharing our gifts up close and personal with others of our human family around the world. We thank you and remain dedicated and inspired by your example. You are a part of us, always.

  • Byron and Peggy Evans
  • Elizabeth and Schuyler Chapin
  • Don and Flossie Wissinger
  • Norman and Virginia Legro
  • William G. Sharwell
  • Bob and Dolly Nalewajec
  • Stan and Nur Gryskiewicz
  • Smith Richardson Foundation
  • Stewarts Foundation
  • Dana Foundation
  • IMB Foundation
  • Xerox Foundation
  • GE Foundation
  • Yamaha Foundation

View more of our supporters →

What's in a name? And who is that winged figure?

In deciding upon a name for our about-to-be hatched organization back in 1972, co- founder Richard Albagli and I were dreaming with all our might of what we would become. Though neither of us had yet been to music school – we were freshly minted scientists at the time – we conceived of ourselves from some astonishingly clear future vantage point, as virtuosic young solo performers who would, as inspiration might guide us, choose to invent and perform together in service to our interdisciplinary and educational mission.

We chose the image of young Icarus rising in ecstasy toward the sun as our logo. Imaginative flight was to be our game and we would risk the feather-shattering fate that took the life of our winged friend. We were scientists, after all, and would assuredly be more careful of all things aerodynamic. Though scarcely a few years older than Icarus, we imagined ourselves of a more mature mind, certainly better read, free of hubris and sagely idealistic. In retrospect, the perfect mindset for inventing the future.

Of course, as we grew and as others began to hear the name “Associated Solo Artists”, especially others in the music field, it was not uncommon to see puzzled expressions.

Find out more about our name →