2006-06-02 / Columnists

Notes from the High C's

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
by Sharon Gabriel

Last week at the request of Martin Penzer, the RMAC were invited again this year to a special "Spring Festival of Music and Dance" at PS 183 on Beach 79 Street. Both Shirley Golub and I attended, and what a joyous time we had.

Children from the fourth through seventh grades performed both music and dance, and much credit must be given to their teachers and Martin Penzer for this wonderful show.

The auditorium was filled to overflowing with friends, family and dignitaries, and there was standing room only for the eight part program, which began with a Recorder performance by fourth grade students with the assistance of Mrs. Chan and Ms. Romero. The children demonstrated some of the skills and techniques, which will help them next year when they go into the band. They played both light and classical selections and they and their teachers are to be commended for the wonderful job they did.

The second performance was by a group of fifth and sixth graders from the regular day classes and the after school Project Arts program. Without any private lessons they prepared a harmonious treat for everyone with their ability to perform. The stage was set up as an orchestra or band would be and the children took their places and played beautifully. It was a joy to watch.

Not only do the teachers perform their job of seeing that the children learn their everyday lessons, but Mrs. Luciano choreographed dance and vocal routines for her fourth graders. Dancing to "The Start of Something New," and "We've Got It Going On," the audience was very involved in the routines by keeping time to the music, clapping and encouraging the dancers even more.

The next group of dancers, also choreographed by Mrs. Luciano, was part of the Thursday After School Project Arts club and they danced to the Missy Elliot and Ciara song, "Music Made Me Lose Control." Here again, the enthusiasm was contagious with a lot of foot stomping and clapping along with the dancers.

The next part of the program was very dear to our hearts as it was the Music Memory program the RMAC sponsors in many of our local schools. We are so proud of the children in their program, because year after year they come away with top prizes from the citywide competition held at Lincoln Center. Not only do the children learn about classical music, which many of them probably never hear in their homes, but also they learned how to work together to create a program that has won them many awards. Their classical number was "Pictures At An Exhibition" by Mussorgsky, followed by Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night In Tunisia."

The twelve children in the third through sixth grades who performed were wonderful and we at the RMAC just want to blow our horns a little bit. Thank you to Martin Penzer who each year works with us to continue this program.

To be on stage and present a dance program is enough in itself, but to choreograph the number and perform takes much talent. Ask any Broadway dancer how long it takes to learn a routine and then you will have an idea of what these children have done, all the while attending their regular classes. Miss Cummings sixth grade class did just that as they dance to "Ponde Replay" by Rihanna. Singers were not left out of this program. Ana Solares and Allyson Omesiete performed the beautiful Bette Midler song "The Wind Beneath My Wings." These two charming and delightful young ladies were fantastic; with their wonderful stage presence the song came alive.

The final performance was a special group of dancers under the direction of Mrs. Bush and Mr. Penzer who performed "Happy People" and I can say everyone was happy to have watched these very talented students.

Say what you will about what is lacking and missing in our public school system, but to have these students, who mostly come from lower income families, perform as they did is wonderful for the heart. It is unfortunate that no one from District 5 was able to attend the performance, but we are looking forward to attending the PS 183 Spring Festival again next year.

There are many events that go on in Rockaway each year and one of the biggest in terms of attendance is the Trinity Luncheon run by Geraldine Chapey at Russo's on the Bay. The luncheon held last Thursday was a spectacular success, with over 700 in attendance. There are not too many people in Rockaway who can say they have 700 friends. Just a reminder that the first Sunset Picnic Concert will be held in just a few weeks, on Sunday, June 25 at Ft. Tilden. The Road House Band will bring a country and western feel to Rockaway. So, bring your chairs, your picnic dinner and get ready to "Hoe-Down."

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