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The New Choral Society Performs Its 100th Concert

The New Choral Society will present its 100th concert performance, Sunday, March 7, 2010 at 3 PM, in the sanctuary of Hitchcock Presbyterian Church. The concert program is “Jubilate Deo” (Make a Joyful Noise) and includes various settings of the text of Psalm 100. Composers whose works are featured include Händel, Bach, Schütz, Mendelssohn, Howells, Bernstein, Rutter and Clausen and the settings are sung in English, German, Latin and Hebrew.

The chorus, founded by Dr. John T. King in 1994, has been praised for its “professional level” musicianship, often featuring solo artists from the Metropolitan Opera and presenting its concerts with a top-notch professional orchestra. For 16 seasons the all-auditioned group has presented music from the 17th through 20th centuries, by more than 30 different composers, and has run the gamut from large scale works with orchestra and soloists, to American classical songs and a cappella works.

Greenacres resident Steven Schnur has been singing with the group since 1994 and here are his thoughts on his years as a member of the choir:

I began choral singing thirty-five years ago but never enjoyed it as much as I have these last sixteen years under the tutelage of John King. His great musicianship and infectious high spirits never fail to wrest all of us from our Monday night rehearsal lethargy. Week after week we astonish ourselves with just how well we are capable of singing under John's expert guidance. And thanks to John's deep connections in the New York music world, we have the great good fortune to perform at every concert with world-class instrumentalists and soloists from the Metropolitan Opera Young Artists Program. It's thrilling!

We're also blessed in having one of the most dedicated executive directors in the business, Betsy Broyd, who has succeeded in accomplishing the impossible: providing a sound financial footing for an amateur choir with a deep and committed audience base. Year after year Betsy succeeds in developing new ways to attract patrons, to keep our interest high, and to offer the community great musical programs.

Sixteen years ago my wife, also a singer, came home from a Greenacres Association meeting with the welcome news that a new choir was being formed under John King's direction. I had just retired from another choir across the county and was looking to join a new group. We had small children at home so only one of us could attend the evening rehearsals. Nancie graciously yielded the spot to me and I have been grateful to her, to John King, and to Betsy Broyd ever since.”

Bonnie Gould, another original member said, "I am excited and proud to participate in our 100th performance in our 16th season. Being a member for 16 years has been an incredible learning experience,and with John's talent, patience and encouragement, we are united as we strive for excellence. And- in the process we have fun and enjoy and appreciate each other."

Tickets for the March 7th concert are available in two categories: Preferred Seating at $25 and General Admission at $20. The General Admission ticket is offered at a discount of $15, for Seniors and Students. Tickets can be purchased through the New Choral Society website: www.newchoralsociety.org or by calling the office at (914) 725-1678.

Yiddish Musical Revue at WRT

Westchester Reform Temple will host a musical theater afternoon on Sunday, March 7 at 4 p.m. The program, “Mama’s Loshn Kugel,” is a traveling Yiddish revue featuring classic songs and sketches from the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater.

Performed in Yiddish with English translation supertitles, the performance is easy to follow and suitable for both children and adults. As its name implies, “Mama’s Loshn Kugel” is a veritable Yiddish kugel, or pudding, with a mixture of humor and song, longing and celebration.

Theater critic Howard Shapiro of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote of a recent production: “The jokes were flying. The music was piping. The translations were beaming.”

The Folksbiene Yiddish Theater is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, promote and develop Yiddish theater for current and future generations to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Yiddish culture as a necessary component of Jewish life.

This Yiddish Culture Program is funded by the Cantor Stephen H. Merkel Fund, and is free and open to the public. Westchester Reform Temple is located at 255 Mamaroneck Road in Scarsdale, N.Y. For directions or information, call the Temple at 914-723-7727, email office@wrtemple.org, or visit www.wrtemple.org.

From Scarsdale: The Band Eclypse

They were about to take the stage. The familiar feeling of a free fall set in their stomach. All eight of their hearts pounded as adrenaline surged through their veins.

The Westchester County Battle of the Bands was neither their first nor their biggest gig; in fact they had played numerous times for a crowd of 2,000 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Despite this, The Band Eclypse felt the pressure of a competition and sensed the anticipation of an unknown crowd.

“As we took the stage to sound check, it was like getting dressed in front of strangers,” guitarist Matthew Yaspan said. “We were preparing ourselves and making sure our sounds matched each others; all the while 500 pairs of eyes were watching us.”

The band’s nerves were evident as they began playing their set before being introduced. They were forced to stop a few seconds into their first song to receive their formal introduction. After that, however, their performance was nearly flawless. The crowd cheered and screamed enough to win the band the prize for popular acclaim. Their performance was lively and active and showed a great level of chemistry between the members.

One wouldn’t be able to tell just by watching them, but The Band Eclypse has only been playing together for ten months, and had formed to play just one gig. Their history began when lead emcee’s Daniel Lonner (known as L.E.D.) and Jeremy Jordan-Jones (known as Triple J) as well as producer Scott Jacobson were accepted in an audition to play at the annual Amateur Night competition hosted by the Apollo Theater, a landmark in New York City. “The intensity of our audition was not at a high enough level to win the competition; we needed something more,” said Lonner. The trio recruited members to form a full band to ensure their victory in the four-round competition. They fielded bassist Ziya Smallens, guitarists Eric Sherman and Matthew Yaspan and pianist Ianni Drivas; Scott was moved to the drums. The group won first place in the first two rounds before being eliminated in the third. After these memorable performances, it was inevitable that the band would continue.

Since then, The Band Eclypse has made a few roster changes, including the replacement of Ianni Drivas with Andy Sherman, brother of guitarist Eric Sherman, as well as the addition of Jamie Ballan as lead singer. They are competing in The Break Contest to play for the chance to be in Bamboozle, a high-profile music festival in the Meadowlands, and have multiple performances in nightclubs scheduled in the future.

While they are serious musicians, they are all students under the age of 18. “It’s hard to be a musician especially when school remains a priority. We all want to do it full time and we do our best, but school takes up a lot of time,” says Lonner, who is also taking music classes at New York University. “We try to practice twice a week to work on our sound, and it’s enough for now, but hopefully we will be able to add more time for the band to our schedules. It’s especially difficult with Eric, who is currently attending Boston University.”

The Band Eclypse is unique in multiple ways. It consists of members from all different musical backgrounds including jazz, blues, rock, metal, hip-hop and pop. “Our goal is to be something truly different. We’re in a pretty limited genre as we are ‘rap/rock,’ but we make sure that our music crosses all types of musical borders. It’s especially helpful to be blessed with a singer like Jamie; she makes it easier to cross these musical borders,” says Jacobson.

“We want to make ourselves known. We want to show the world just how talented we are and to share our music and our message with them. It’s our desire that people know our names and that we will be forever remembered as something great that changed the way people thought about music,” emcee Jeremy Jordan-Jones explains.

Check out their tunes at www.myspace.com/thebandeclypse

(The Band Eclypse is currently in the studio recording their album, new material up soon!)

Heathcote is Alive with the Sound of Music

The dramatic skills of 84 Heathcote students were on display Saturday, February 6th, when “The Sound of Music” was performed at Heathcote Elementary School. All of our favorite characters from this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic were brought to life in spectacular fashion, from Captain Von Trapp to Maria to Uncle Max. The soaring voices of the Heathcote players filled a packed auditorium for two sold out performances.

In just two weeks, these budding thespians learned their lines, choreography and songs under the guidance of the talented staff at KJK Productions. This show was the third production sponsored and managed by the Heathcote PTA Performing Arts Committee, chaired by Jane Cohen and Kathleen Libman. All who attended will remember the performance as one of their favorite things. Photos courtesy of Jon Thaler. See hundreds more photos of the show and purchase your own at www.JonThaler.com

All photos by Jon Thaler

The Sound of Music at the Greenacres School

On Saturday January 30th and Sunday January 31st the Greenacres players, in conjunction with Kevin J. Kearins and KJK Productions, Inc., and the Greenacres PTA, performed the Sound of Music. In all, over 180 children grades 1-5 sang and dance there way into the hearts of their parents, grandparents and friends who came to watch. Everyone was a star.The major parts were all divided giving the maximum number of children the opportunity to be center stage in all there were 17 different Marias. Thanks to Greenacres' Moms; Robin Dillon, Erin Foster and Lauren Haller.