2008-01-11 / Columnists

Notes from the High C's

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
by Sharon Gabriel

Welcome to 2008 and my wish for everyone is that the new year is good for you and your family. May we all be in good health, and prosperity and only good things for everyone. My hope is that our country, especially, and our community in particular, prosper. I hope that our servicemen and women can come home soon from around the world, that the medical community can find solutions to some of our major medical problems, from cures for cancer, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, paralysis and many more. I'm sure that all of us know of someone who would benefit from a medical breakthrough. May it only happen.

As a community we are growing in leaps and bounds with more building going on than I can ever remember in my lifetime here in Rockaway. According to a really well-known real estate lady in the city, Rockaway is the place to buy as the up and coming place to be in New York City. Years ago when things were so bleak, I kept saying that as soon as people, i.e. developers, found Rockaway we would turn around and I think that has happened. As I speak to new people in the community I always tell them about all the events that we have going on here from the arts point of view and they are always surprised to find out about our creative organizations. They were not aware we have a theatre company, and arts company and our RMAC. All of us have something to look forward to with our new neighbors.

From the point of the Rockaway Music and Arts Council the year of 2007 was both bitter and sweet. Our concerts and festival were great successes as were our Music Memory and opera programs in our public schools. Our first ever Literary Festival was beyond our expectations and so, this year, we will be expanding the event to be both a Literary and Film Festival which will take place the weekend of June 7 and 8 at Gateway.

With regard to the Literary and Film Festival we have to thank Stu Mirsky and Beverly Baxter for so ably continuing on with this massive project after losing Barbara Eisenstadt, the person who was the inspiration for this event. As soon as we have additional information on what will be included in the event, we will let you know. It should be a great weekend.

For the children in our schools we will, in addition to the music and opera programs, be presenting a dance program with one of New York's prominent dance companies.

Another museum trip is being planned and will probably take place sometime in the late spring or early summer. We plan on traveling to Connecticut for a turn-of-the-century steam train and riverboat trip along with either lunch or dinner to be included. Considering the success of out trip to The Culinary Institute and the Vanderbilt Mansion this past fall, we are looking forward to the new event.

After a rocky start this year, we are working very closely with Gateway National Recreational Area to again present our Concert series at Ft. Tilden starting in June. I always feel that the season starts when our concerts start and I see everyone that I haven't seen since last summer.

As to our Fall Festival, there is a possibility that it will not occur this year because of many problems, some internal and some from outside sources. However, as soon as we have more information I will let you know.

Before going any further I want to thank all of our members who have been working so diligently over the winter to overcome the many problems that arose with Gateway which now seem to be working out. Our President, Steve Yaeger, Concert Director and Festival Chairman, John Musumeci, Festival Vendor Chairman, Fern Liberman and Vice President Harold Cornell, have been meeting constantly with Gateway to iron out all their concerns and it looks like things are on the upturn.

With all the good that happened last year, there were the sad, the most devastating of course, was the loss of our dear friend and Chairman of the Board, Barbara Eisenstadt. Barbara's passing is a constant reminder that we must carry on all of the above projects which she began. Not a day goes by that her name doesn't come up in a conversation. No matter where you go, if you knew Barbara, whomever you meet has a story to tell you about her. Just last night I was to dinner when one of the women at the table told me a story about calling Barbara, who she really didn't know, to ask about a specific event and how Barbara stayed on the phone with her for a long time, giving her the information she asked for, but also bringing up other subjects. The lady mentioned how gracious Barbara was to someone she barely knew. But, that was Barbara, and we and Rockaway have lost a wonderful friend. Take care, my friend, I miss you.

As I started this column, I wish everyone a Happy New Year and may you be at peace.

With love, Sharon.

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