2005-04-15 / Columnists

Notes from the High C’s

Rockaway Music and Arts Council

by Sharon Gabriel

Today the sun is shining bright and spring is in the air and the RMAC 2005 season cannot be far behind. There are so many exciting things being planned this year and they started off with the students at P.S. 114 and their “Sanderella” opera version of the New York City Opera company’s “Cinderella” which you may have read about in last week’s edition of The Wave. Bringing the opera to our students is the RMAC’s second project in our local schools, the first being the very successful Music Memory Program where the children learn a piece of classical music and then get to show off all they have learned at Lincoln Center. These are two fantastic programs for the children.

I can remember attending the local Public School 44, which was on the corner of Beach 94 Street, where the library now stands, and our introduction to the classics was a weekly assembly where classical records were played and by the end of the term we were supposed to recognize the music. Today’s programs are much more hands-on and exciting for children.

Believe it or not, but this is the 50th Anniversary of the Rockaway Music and Arts Council and a spectacular event is being planned for the end of the summer. An evening of art and music is in the works on a grand scale. It’s going to be a Saturday evening event in one of the newest “in” places to be seen. As you read this, caterers are being chosen, music is being auditioned and all the preliminary items are being put together, but I can’t tell you more at this moment. We want to keep it a surprise just a little longer.

Our Sunset Picnic Concert Series is in place and there are several new concert programs this year, starting with The Klez Dispensers. If you like rousing music this is the group to see. They are true interpreters of Klezmer music. You’ve heard of the TV show “American Idol,” well we will have our own new artists competition and it’s called “Search For The Stars.” We have looked at and listened to many audition tapes and DVD’s and I can tell you that you will not be disappointed in the talent. From operatic to choral groups to the big band type singers, there will be something for everyone, along with a one thousand dollar prize for the winner. If you like ragtime music, we have the top two ragtime musicians who will be performing both Scott Joplin and Eubie Blake music. This foot stomping, hand-clapping good old American music is one of my favorites.

It’s funny how some things come about. I was at my Far Rockaway High School Reunion last year and met Ed Berlin, one of my classmates, and in finding out what each other were doing after all these years, Ed mentioned that he is very involved in ragtime music. A bell went off in my head and I questioned him some more. It turns out that Ed is one of the preeminent authorities of ragtime music in the United States. He has written many books on the subject, lectured about it and also presents many of the artists in concert. I immediately took his business card, told him we would be in touch, so we will have a ragtime concert this summer and Ed will be along to present the artists and tell us a little about the music. I am personally very excited about this concert and I hope you will be once you see it.

Our other two concerts are old favorites Kenny Vance and The Planotones. Kenny and his Doo-Wop guys are lots of fun and certainly bring back memories for many of us of the “bobby sox” age.

What can we possibly say about Dean Karahalis and the Long Island Pops Orchestra? Dean and the orchestra are just the best. Starting off each concert with “The Star Spangled Banner” gets everyone in the mood for a stirring evening of some of the greatest music ever written.

There will be more about each concert as we get close to the dates, so keep your Sundays in June, July and August open for the moment.

The one date we can tell you about is the RMAC 21st Annual Fall Festival this year, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18. Welcome to spring.

See you around the neighborhood.

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