2009-06-19 / Columnists

Notes from the High C's

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
by Sharon Gabriel

I don't know about you, but with this rainy weather, my body is starting to mildew. It just feels more like the middle of April than the middle of June. Almost every day is so dreary or the rain is coming down in buckets. You almost forget what the sun looks like.

But, as I said, it is June and now we can tell you that the Summer Picnic Concerts have all been set and I think you are going to like what you see. (Especially if it stops raining).

On Sunday June 28, starting at 6:30 p.m., we will be presenting the Rockaway Theatre Company Orchestra. This fourteen piece orchestra will be playing all of our old favorites and if you feel like dancing on the grass, just go ahead. The Rockaway Theatre Company is one of my favorite places to be in Rockaway. John Gilleece, Susan Jasper, Peggy Page and their whole group are fabulous. Their theatre productions are the best and right here in the neighborhood and, the price is so inexpensive that everyone can afford to attend. Each summer their programs consists of one musical from Broadway and of course, their orchestra leads the way. I try never to miss their productions and especially their musicals. Last summer it was "The Music Man" and this summer I can't wait to see "Oklahoma" which opens in July. They have presented, in former years, "Guys & Dolls", "Fiddler On The Roof, "My Fair Lady" and many many more and they are great. So, just know that you will be listening to a wonderful orchestra at our first concert.

As an aside to the above, Peggy Page asked me two years ago if I would do a small part in one of their productions. Without even thinking about it I said "sure, why not." Little did I know what I would be getting myself into. All that fun on the stage is not as easy as it appears—especially for a novice like me. "Stand here, walk this way, look at the audience, go up and down the stairs and don't break your neck and speak at the same time." And, rehearse and rehearse. As I would drive in my car I would be saying my few lines over and over again and if anyone was looking at me they would have thought I was talking to myself. However, it was fun and in my last scene I came out in a long red satin cape—that was the best. I did my Gloria Swanson walk down the stairs and almost broke my neck. So much for my acting days.

Our second concert, to be held on July 26 will present Kenny Vance & The Planotones." Kenny is a Rockaway "boy" now, having come from Brooklyn, but that doesn't matter, he is still the best. I remember being at Kenny's home several years ago when Far Rockaway High School was planning its 100th Anniversary and Kenny agreed to play at our "Prom" night. What great fun that was. Kenny was showing me all of his music, his awards, and telling me about all his film work and he was looking forward to filming "Looking For An Echo" which was out last year. Kenny is a really good guy and we always look forward to having him and the Planotones appear at our concerts.

Kenny Vance & The Planotones will be our yearly Leon Locke Memorial Concert. Leon, the Publisher of The Wave until his untimely passing a few years ago, always made sure we had a rock 'n roll or doo wop concert each year. This was his music and we have always held one concert each year in his memory. Leon was another one of our "Rockaway Good Guys." He was always coming up with ideas for the concerts and our Fall Festival and kept us on our toes. We didn't always follow through on all his suggestions, but he was great to work with.

The third concert on Sunday, August 8 will be The New York Klezmer Ensemble." If you like Eastern European and Jewish style music, please join us for this wonderful event. As a matter of fact, The New York Klezmer Ensemble will be playing at a concert I will be attending over the 4th of July weekend. The concert is being presented by a friend who is presenting it as a gift to her parents. As we get closer to the time for this concert I will have some additional information about the group.

Watch this paper for our concert ad, which should be here this week. Cut it out and put it on the refrigerator so you don't forget the dates and remember, the concerts will be presented at the Riis Park Bathhouse, not the Parade Grounds at Ft. Tilden.

Now to our Music Memory Program. As you may know Music Memory is one of the programs the RMAC presents in several of our elementary schools with the help of the teachers and, once again, our children have won city-wide honors. They came away with both gold and silver medals at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University. This year the schools were P.S. 114, P.S.47, P.S.104 and P.S.106 We want to thank Robyn Levy and all of the teachers who work so hard with the children to accomplish these great honors year after year. Our kids, and teachers, are the best. Also the best are two members of the RMAC Board, Myra Berger and Bernice Myers who work all year on this project and it pays off in the awards the children bring home. Thanks to Bernice and Myra for all their efforts.

One other weekend not to forget is September 12 and 13 for our 25th Anniversary Fall Festival at Riis Park.

See you around Rockaway.

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