1999-06-11 / Columnists

Notes From The High C’s

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
By Sharon Gabriel

Get your beach chairs and picnic baskets ready as the RMAC Summer Picnic Concert Series begins on Sunday evening, June 27, 6pm, at Ft. Tilden. The opening concert of the summer will be a presentation if the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players who present The Wand’ring Minstrels" as they perform a very special version of the Gilbert & Sulllivan Operetta H.M.S. PINAFORE. The very well known story of Her Majesty’s Ship Pinafore, is a delightful operetta about the misadventures that ensue as a lowly sailor, Ralph Rackstraw, tries to win the hand of the captain’s daughter, Josephine, and how "Poor Little Buttercup", a peddler, makes the dream come true.

The second half of the performance is entitled "A Gilbert & Sullivan Cabaret" where The Wand’ring Minstrels present favorite selections from other G&S operettas such as The Mikado, The Pirates of Penzance, etc., as well as requests from the audience.

The Gilbert & Sullivan Players are now in their twenty-fifth season, under the leadership of Artistic Director Albert Bergeret who has been hailed as "the leading custodian of the G&S classics" by New York Magazine. Since its founding in 1974, the company has presented over 1,500 performances throughout the United States and Canada, captivating audiences of all ages.

The G&S Players have appeared at the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in Philadelphia and have performed for several years at Wolf Trap Farm Park in Vienna, Virginia. In addition to many other accolades, the Gilbert 7 Sullivan Players have received a three year grant from the well known arts foundation, the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund.

This concert is a wonderful forum for children, it is lighthearted and fun and will introduce them to the classics.

The second concert of the season will be on Sunday July 11th, when The Manhattan Brass Quintet will be performing. The MBQ are all New York area musicians who perform with the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic and on Broadway, in recitals and special events.

Each of the five musicians has an outstanding background in music, from the Interlochen Arts Academy to the Curtis Institute of Music to the American Ballet Theatre and the Julliard School, they are all magnificent musicians.

In addition to its standard repertoire, the quintet performs new and unique styles into their performances. They have won, or received high honors in numerous competitions, including the Artists International, New York Brass Conference, the Fischoff-National Chamber Music and the 1997 Concert Artists Guild Competitions.

Frequently heard on National Public Radio, the Manhattan Brass Quintet are not to be missed.

All of the summer concerts are arranged by John Musumeci, Vice President of the RMAC as well as Chairman of the Festival. John has been a very active member of the RMAC for well over 25 years. If you were present at any of our concerts, whether it was Itzak Perlman, Edward Villella, Roberta Peters or a rock and roll concert in the park, you can b sure John was the producer who brought everything together. With an ear for classical music and an eye for what the public likes, John has brought wonderful programs to Rockaway.

The RMAC was present at the Queens City Council Budget Hearings held at the American Museum of the Moving Image on May 17th. RMAC President, Barbara Eisenstadt testified before the Council on the work that we have been doing to foster cultural arts in the Rockaways. Her presentation included the Sounds of Music Program presented in the District 27 schools as well as our Sunset Picnic Concert Series and our Annual Fall Festival of Music, Art and Crafts, now in it’s 16th year.

As Barbara stated in her comments to the Council, this was a very propitious time for the budget hearings as Mayor Giuliani had proclaimed the next week as Arts Education Week as he declared "New York City, which is blessed with boundless treasures of art and culture, and is filled with millions of the most talented and creative people on the planet, should have the best arts education in the world." To this end the RMAC and their Sounds of Music Program have presented music programs in the Rockaway schools for the past several years. Our 1998-1999 program has just ended with four concerts in the public school with "Spotlight on Opera" performed at PS43 and PS105 and Bronx Arts Ensemble performed at IS53 and JHS180 just this past week. Principal Spata of JHS 180 invited a group of senior citizens from the Neponsit Day Care Center to be special guests at the concert in his school. From both Beach Channel and Far Rockaway High Schools to the elementary schools, age-appropriate music is presented each term. From Brass at Lincoln Center for the high schoolers to Spotlight on Opera for the elementary schools, the program has been very well received and the RMAC has been asked back in every instance.

Each year the RMAC is present at city budget hearings to apply for funding to continue their programs. Hopefully the city will carefully consider our request and once again invest in the future generations. In addition, funding has been received from the Chase Bank and from The National Park Service that will go towards continuing the various RMAC programs.

The RMAC has been fortunate in negotiations with Native Americans who will be present at the Fall Festival. A special area will be set aside for a Native American village as well as special crafts vendors and programs for children. More about this new addition to the festival in future reports.

The first open meeting of the RMAC was held last month at The Beach Club. There was a wonderful turnout of new people and new ideas were presented that the RMAC Board will now follow through on. There will be more about this in future columns. If you like our music programs, the festival, our museum trips or other project that the RMAC presents, and you would like to join, come to the concert at Ft. Tilden on June 27th and speak to one of the members under the tent at the left of the stage. For a very nominal amount you can become a member and be a part of the wonderful programs presented each year.

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