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Art, Drama, Music and Books
Art, drama, music & books

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Alisa Weilerstein to Perform at The Reformed Church on Friday, March 17 PDF Print Email


By Sándor Szabó, Minister of Music and Organist, The Reformed Church of Bronxville

Mar. 8, 2017:  The Reformed Church of Bronxville will host the world-renowned 
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with internationally acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein on Friday, March 17, in the church's sanctuary.

The performance is free to all. General admission seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6:30.

The concert is dedicated to the memory of Emily McKnight Corry, a passionate lover of classical music, who was a member of The Reformed Church for 51 years until her death on May 21, 2016, and taught eighth grade church school.

We are grateful for the legacy of Emily, as well as her husband, John A. Corry (also a longtime church member, who died on December 26, 2016), both of whom were great supporters of the arts.

"We are delighted to host the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra," said Dr. Sándor Szabó, minister of music at The Reformed Church. "It is one of the premier chamber ensembles in the world, and its mission of providing the highest caliber of music to the public fits with our own dedication to serving the community with almost a dozen concerts each year—all free to the community."

A standard-bearer of innovation and artistic excellence, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is one of the world's foremost chamber orchestras. It was founded in 1972 by a group of like-minded young musicians determined to combine the intimacy and warmth of a chamber ensemble with the richness of an orchestra.

With 71 albums, including the Grammy Award-winning Shadow Dances: Stravinsky Miniatures, and 43 commissioned and premiered original works, Orpheus rotates musical leadership roles and strives to perform diverse repertoire through collaboration and open dialogue.

Performing without a conductor, Orpheus presents an annual series at Carnegie Hall and tours extensively to major national and international venues.

The concert will feature Felix Mendelssohn's Nocturno for Winds; Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 5; Anton Webern's Five Movements for Strings; and Robert Schumann's exuberant Cello Concerto, performed with the extraordinary American cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

Weilerstein, who recently recorded her fifth album on Decca Classics, made her major orchestral debut in 1995 at age 13 with the Cleveland Orchestra and a year later made her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Youth Symphony. Since then, she has appeared with every major orchestra in the United States and Europe and has appeared at festivals ranging from Aspen and Edinburgh to Salzburg and Tanglewood. In 2011, she was awarded a MacArthur "genius" grant.

No reservations will be accepted, so patrons should arrive early; the sanctuary holds approximately 600.

For more information, visit www.reformed or call The Reformed Church office at 914-337-6776. 

Pictured here:  Acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

Photo courtesy Sándor Szabó, Minister of Music and Organist, The Reformed Church of Bronxville

Concordia Conservatory to Present the Musical 'Animal Estates' Saturday, March 4 PDF Print Email


By Kathleen Suss, Executive Director, Concordia Conservatory

Mar. 1, 2017:  Concordia Conservatory will present the musical Animal Estates as part of the Musical Adventures Family Series on Saturday, March 4, at 11:00 am in the Schoenfeld Campus Center at Concordia College.

With book, music, and lyrics by Matt Van Brink, the musical features a purple martin returning to New York after his yearly migration who then enlists the help of a rabbit realtor at Animal Estates Realty to find the perfect home. But the rabbit shows him the habitats of other animals, ones that are already occupied! It's fine to meet the neighbors, but this bird's got to make a nest! The story is based on Fritz Haeg's Animal Estates.

Matt Van Brink is a distinguished composer, educator, lyricist, and pianist. He heads the songwriting and composition department at Concordia Conservatory and has created numerous new works for its student performers, including an evening-length chamber music song cycle, Kiss the Stars Goodnight, chamber music pieces, and a dozen one-act musicals for the classroom as well as the holiday season.

The cast features Lydia Burkee, Anthony Evangelista, Joshua Gleason, Maya Madhavan, Robert McGinness, Jeffrey Rohr, Zac Shearon, and Grace Smyth. Jon Klibonoff is music director and Audry Ginsburg is stage director and choreographer for the production. 

Cast members attend area schools including The Chapel School, Eastchester Middle and High Schools, Bronxville Middle and High Schools, and The Ursuline School.

Prior to the concert, there will be a breakfast for all concertgoers. Camp Concordia 2017 registration and information will be available. Camp director Mike McCoy will provide information on this summer's season. All ages are welcome at this family-friendly event.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $7.50 for children and seniors. To purchase tickets, please call 914-395-4507 or go to

Pictured here:  Students in a previous musical.

Photo courtesy Kathleen Suss, Executive Director, Concordia Conservatory

Enslaved Africans Rain Garden Exhibition at Sarah Lawrence College; Artists to Speak March 2 PDF Print Email


By Judith Schwartzstein, Vice President for Publicity, Sarah Lawrence College

Mar. 1, 2017:  Sarah Lawrence College presents Artists Talk, a program in conjunction with an exhibition by artist Vinnie Bagwell of her Enslaved Africans Rain Garden project on Thursday, March 2, at 6:00 pm in Reisinger auditorium.

Bagwell and spoken word artist Ty Gray-EL will speak about the project, which honors the enslaved Africans who resided at the historic Philipse Manor Hall in downtown Yonkers, six of whom were the first to be manumitted by law in the United States, 79 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.

On display in the college's Esther Raushenbush Library through May are five bronze sculptures: a lithe woman balancing a bucket on her head and carrying fish (I'Satta), an elderly woman pausing to rest on a hoe and pray (Bibi), a somber boatman (Themba), and two companion children (Sola and Olumide.)

These sculptures are smaller models of the life-sized sculptures that will ultimately form a permanent installation in a rain garden setting on the banks of the Hudson River. The first of the life-sized sculptures, I'Satta, will be unveiled and displayed at Sarah Lawrence in the near future.  

Accompanying the sculptures in the exhibition are mounted texts providing the viewer with a historical context of slavery in New York State. The exhibition encourages visitors to wonder about enslaved Africans, their origins and families, their languages, daily routines, religious beliefs, music, and thoughts.

"Although Africans were a vital part of American society from the earliest colonial times, there are few landmarks that recognize their presence in the United States," said Bagwell. "Africans helped to build our cities, but no representational statues were built in their honor. No streets, squares, buildings, or rivers have names with origins in their cultures," she said. "That is the inspiration for this project to be built in a public space and which will invigorate the community, generate civic dialogue, and support environmental policy."

Pictured here: Artist Vinnie Bagwell.

Photo courtesy Judith Schwartzstein, Vice President for Publicity, Sarah Lawrence College

Mayors Spano and Marvin Attend Richard Haas's Opening Exhibition at OSilas Gallery February 9 PDF Print Email


By Elizabeth Vranka, Executive Director, OSilas Gallery

Feb. 15, 2017:  On Thursday, February 9, an exhibition of works by Richard Haas titled Dreams & Reality: Visions of Urban Architecture opened at OSilas Gallery at Concordia College. 

The opening reception was a grand celebration of Richard Haas and his work. The large crowd included Mayor Mike Spano of Yonkers and Mayor Mary Marvin of Bronxville.

Haas is one of today's pre-eminent muralists whose works can be found across the United States. Residents in southern Westchester perhaps know him best for his landmark trompe l'oeil murals, Gateway to the Waterfront, in downtown Yonkers. While Haas works in lower Manhattan, he is a longtime resident of Yonkers.

Haas's artwork focuses on architecture, and the works included in Dreams & Reality are almost exclusively New York scenes or buildings. In addition to the many paintings, prints, and drawings on display, visitors will be captivated by the trompe l'oeil dioramas that Haas created of New York City streetscapes.

Charles T. Little, a Bronxville resident and curator emeritus of medieval arts and The Cloisters at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is the curator of Dreams & Reality.

The exhibition includes a number of works related to the Gateway to the Waterfront murals, showing the evolution and development of the project, and most of these works are on loan from the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. The rest of the works featured in Dreams & Reality are from the artist's private collection. 


Dreams & Reality will be on show through March 4 at the OSilas Gallery, which is in the Donald A. Krenz Academic Center on the second level of Scheele Memorial Library on the campus of Concordia College. Free and ample parking is available on campus.

Gallery hours are Tues./Wed./Fri., noon-5:00 pm; Thurs., noon-7:00 pm; and Sat./Sun., 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Please call Executive Director Elizabeth Vranka at 914-337-9300, ext. 2173, or email her at CLOAKING for more information or to make arrangements to have your group view Dreams & Reality outside regular gallery hours.

Please see for more information about exhibitions, special events, and programs. All exhibitions at OSilas Gallery are free and open to the public.

Pictured here:  Top photo (L to R): Curator Charles Little, Mayor Mike Spano, artist Richard Haas, and Concordia president John Nunes; photo in text: Mayor Mary Marvin (L) and OSilas Gallery executive director Elizabeth Vranka. 

Photos courtesy Elizabeth Vranka, Executive Director, OSilas Gallery

Sarah Lawrence College Writing Director's Novel, 'Barren Island,' Released PDF Print Email


By Judith Schwartzstein, Vice President for Publicity, Sarah Lawrence College 

Feb. 15, 2017:  As immigrants are under assault, a new award-winning book by a Sarah Lawrence College writing instructor celebrates the melting pot that is the backbone of New York.

Barren Island, released last week, looks at the squalid and hardscrabble lives of Jewish, Greek, Italian, Irish, and African-American families that inhabit the factory island in New York's Jamaica Bay. The story is particularly relevant as the nation is conflicted over the issue of immigration.

Carol Zoref, director of the writing center at Sarah Lawrence College, won the 2015 AWP (Association of Writers and Programs) Prize for the novel and will be giving a reading of her work at the association's annual conference this weekend in Washington, D.C. She will also give a writing presentation at the college on February 28.

"The AWP awards are known for their tradition of excellence. Their judges are always among the most distinguished literary minds in the country," said Brian Morton, director of the college's MFA program in writing. "The AWP novel award is a great and well-deserved honor for our colleague." 

Barren Island is Zoref’s first novel. It is a poignant story of the immigrant families who form a tight-knit community in one of the harshest environments and is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of immigrants. The story is told from the viewpoint of the fictional narrator Marta Eisenstein, who gives a vivid picture of the island where the city's dead horses and other large animals were rendered into glue and fertilizer from the mid-19th century until the 1930s.  

As the descendant of Jewish immigrants, Zoref can relate to the lives of her characters but said that the book is not based on her family's story.

"None of my relatives ever lived on an island in Jamaica Bay, nor did any of them work in a glue-rendering factory, though all four of my grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. The last of them died more than thirty years ago, long before I began writing this book. They all worked in garment factories at one time or another and they all lost immediate family and other relatives to the Holocaust. At least one of them entered the country illegally using a visa intended for someone else. These details are shared by many--though not all--Jewish families that came to the U.S. in the late 19th and 20th centuries," she said.

Pictured here:  Carol Zoref, director of the writing center at Sarah Lawrence College.

Photo courtesy Judith Schwartzstein, Vice President for Publicity, Sarah Lawrence College

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