2005-09-09 / Columnists

Notes from the High C’s

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
by Sharon Gabriel


It’s hard to believe that it’s Labor Day weekend and that the summer is almost over and the last of our Sunset Picnic Concert Series is over until next summer.

Though I was not able to attend the last concert I understand that the two ragtime pianists were wonderful. I spoke with Ed Berlin who narrated the concert and expressed to him all the positive adjectives I had heard from everyone. Ed was nice enough to send me a copy of his book about ragtime and said he was going to quiz me on the contents just to make sure I read it. I told Ed I had to finish the Clinton book, “My Life,” and then I would get to Eubie Blake and the other pianists in his book.

For every concert this summer we were very lucky and had beautiful weather and large crowds. Let’s hope that continues at our Fall Festival on Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18 at Riis Park. In my next column I’ll have more to say about the festival and some of the new vendors that we expect to join us. However, this Saturday, September 10, the Rockaway Music and Arts Council will celebrate its 50th Anniversary with a gala at the Brooklyn Museum. Catered by the Lawrence Country Club, there will be a cocktail hour with the Brooklyn Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet, to be followed by dinner in the Beaux Arts Court and dancing to the Alexander Altiere Quintet. There will also be a special surprise entertainer as well as fabulous gifts that have been donated for our silent auction and raffle.

This evening is very special to all of us because it gives us the opportunity to honor two very special people to the RMAC. Our very first president, Helen Bartwink, and our current president, Barbara Eisenstadt.

From the very first concert in Helen’s living room to today when we sponsor so many different programs that were the idea of Barbara Eisenstadt. We are very fortunate to have two such admirable women to lead the organization. Where Helen’s interests were to the more classical, Barbara has opened the organization to many different areas of entertainment and broadened our horizons. The concerts that began in Helen’s living room now are held at Ft. Tilden and in addition to classical music we present everything from opera to rock n’ roll.

Our Fall Festival, which was Barbara’s idea, was started as a way to fund our concert series and now is our lead event of the year. If you have read this column in the past you know that I have written about the many events that we present in addition to the concerts and festival. We are most proud of the Music Memory Program in the schools and our outstanding graduate of that program is a young lady by the name of Sonia Robinson, of Arverne. Since being part of the Music Memory Program, Sonia has taken special classes at the Juilliard School and in speaking with her last week she told me that she is applying to LaGuardia High School for next fall. We have no doubt she will make it and are glad that the RMAC Music Memory Program played some small part in her progress. We have to thank Barbara for bringing this wonderful program to our schools.

Over the years there have been many people who have worked hard to make the Rockaway Music & Arts Council succeed, but none more than Helen and Barbara. It is our privilege to honor them, tonight.

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