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(Published: May 02, 2012)

Tenafly, N.J., April 10, 2012- The JCC Thurnauer School of Music, New Jersey's leading community music school, named a Major Arts Institution by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, is pleased to announce its 22nd annual Gift of Music Gala Benefit Concert. The performance will take place Wednesday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades' (411 East Clinton Avenue) Taub Auditorium. A VIP reception, also at the JCC, will precede the concert at 6:30 p.m.

During the evening, the Music School will honor Francisco J. Núñez, artistic director and founder of the Young People's Chorus of New York City™ [of which the Young People's Chorus at Thurnauer is an affiliate] on two recent accolades: a 2011 MacArthur Genius Fellowship Award; and a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from First Lady Michelle Obama. The latter is the United States' highest honor for youth organizations, and the YPC of NYC is among 12 groups nationwide recognized from more than 470 nominees and 50 finalists.

At the concert, Mr. Núñez will conduct the Young People's Chorus at Thurnauer in classic choral
works by acclaimed composers. Repertoire (subject to changes and additions) is listed below.

Mr. Núñez is the second world-renowned conductor to lead a Thurnauer ensemble in the past two years. The 2011 Gift of Music Gala Benefit Concert featured New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert conducting the Thurnauer Symphony Orchestra, as it performed with 10 musicians from the Philharmonic, including concertmaster Glenn Dicterow and principal associate concertmaster Sheryl Staples - the latter a parent of two students at the Music School.

The concert will also feature Bob McGrath, beloved music teacher on PBS' children's program
Sesame Street; cellist Eric Jacobsen and violinist Colin Jacobsen, artistic directors of The Knights, a New York City-based orchestra that was the inaugural ensemble-in-residence on WQXR 105.9 FM in 2011, and returned to the radio station earlier this month; a performance by the Music School's acclaimed jazz faculty (Vinnie Sperrazza, director) and special guests; violin groups; and much more.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit all the Music School's programs, including its scholarship fund and its Music Discovery Partnership with the Englewood (N.J.) Public School District.

Performing ensembles will include, among others, the Young People's Chorus at Thurnauer, which will be prepared for the concert by its conductor, Emma Brondolo, a student of Mr. Núñez from 1992 to 2005.

"I try to incorporate Francisco's style by using humor, culture, and challenging music to make our weekly rehearsals come alive," Brondolo said. "Like Francisco does with his choir, when we sing, I try to give context and meaning to the music, and choose repertoire that is challenging, interesting, relevant, and will bring singers to the next level of musicianship. When [I] left a rehearsal with Francisco, I knew something musically special had occurred. I try to give my students this same experience."
Established by Drs. Alan and Joan Handler to bring the joys of music-making to a wider student population, the Gift of Music Gala Benefit Concert supports the Thurnauer School's mission, from providing the highest level of music study in a nurturing and supportive environment to welcoming all who dream of studying music.

"We are thrilled to honor Francisco Núñez at our 2012 Gift of Music Gala Benefit Concert, and are privileged to have him conduct the Young People's Chorus at Thurnauer," said Music School founding director Dorothy Kaplan Roffman. "Francisco continues our proud tradition of world-renowned artists working with and inspiring our students. We are also excited to perform with the legendary Bob McGrath, as well as with Colin and Eric Jacobsen. The talent of these wonderful artists will inspire our dedicated and hard-working students to new levels of musicianship."

Individual adult ticket prices are $250, $75, and $40. Admission for students aged 17 and under is $15 per ticket. Concert repertoire is listed below. To purchase tickets, or for more information about the Gift of Music Gala Benefit Concert, please contact the Music School at 201.408.1465 or thurnauer@jccotp.org. Or, visit jccotp.org/thurnauer. For sponsorship opportunities, including underwriting tickets for public school children, please contact Alison Holzberg Kenny, development director, at 201.408.1462 or akenny@jccotp.org.

22nd Annual Gift of Music Gala Benefit Concert
Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 7:30 p.m. (VIP reception at 6:30 p.m.)
Taub Auditorium
Kaplen JCC on the Palisades

*honoring Francisco J. Núñez, conducting the Young People's Chorus at Thurnauer

(special guests: Bob McGrath; Colin and Eric Jacobsen)

performers to include:

*Young People's Chorus at Thurnauer (Emma Brondolo, director)
*JCC Thurnauer School of Music violin groups
*Colin (violin) and Eric (cello) Jacobsen
*JCC Thurnauer School of Music faculty jazz combo, with special guests (t.b.d.)

repertoire* to include:

Lionel Bart "Consider Yourself" from Oliver!
Joe Raposo theme from Sesame Street
Bein' Green
Jim Papoulis Kusimama
Be With Me
Paul Williams/Kenneth Ascher Rainbow Connection

(* - subject to changes and additions)

About Francisco J. Núñez
Francisco J. Núñez, a recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship presented to individuals for their "exceptional originality in and dedication to their creative pursuits," is the artistic director of the Young People's Chorus of New York City™ (YPC), a composer, conductor, visionary, and leading figure in music education. In 1988 he founded YPC to provide children of all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds with a safe haven for personal and artistic growth and has changed the lives of thousands of young people.
YPC is widely recognized for its exceptional caliber and has been cited as a model of artistic excellence and diversity by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities under the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.
Mr. Núñez also leads University Glee Club of New York City, its fifth conductor since the all-men's choir was established in 1894, and was the director of choral activities at New York University from 2003 to 2010. He is also sought after as a guest conductor by professional orchestras and choirs and as a master teacher and advisor for choral workshops, demonstrations, and festivals nationwide. [source: ypc.org]

For more information about Francisco Nuñez, please visit http://franciscojnunez.com/.

About Bob McGrath
Bob McGrath just celebrated his 38th year on Sesame Street. He has bridged two generations of viewers as one of the original hosts. "I can't believe I'm really meeting you" is a common response heard by Bob from not only kids, but their parents as well, who also grew up with the show. He was recently inducted into the 2002 Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of the American Eagle Award by the National Music Council and the Fame Award by the National Association of Music Educators for furthering the cause of music education. For more information about Bob McGrath, please visit http://www.bobmcgrath.com/.

About Colin Jacobsen
Violinist Colin Jacobsen, a 2003 Avery Fisher Grant recipient, first played to critical acclaim at age 14, collaborating with Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic in a performance of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy. He began his violin studies at age four with Doris Rothenberg, and continued with Louise Behrend at the School for Strings and, later, at The Juilliard School Pre-College Division, where he won the concerto competition. He was also the recipient of the Grand Prize from both the New York State and National American String Teachers Association competitions. Mr. Jacobsen studied with Josef Gingold for two summers, and graduated in 1999 from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Robert Mann. During the 2000-2001 Season he continued his studies with Vera Beths at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague.

Recently, Colin Jacobsen has pursued a varied career of solo and chamber music engagements. As a touring member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, Mr. Jacobsen has collaborated with musicians from Asia and the Middle East. He has toured China with Tan Dun, performing the composer's Water Passion based on the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Mr. Jacobsen has also enjoyed cross-disciplinary explorations with several dance companies, including the New York City Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Mr. Jacobsen is a member of the Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert and is heard frequently with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has been a resident performer on WQXR's weekly On A-I-R (Artists-in-Radio) Series and was a Young Artist-in-Residence for National Public Radio's Performance Today.

About Eric Jacobsen
Cellist Eric Jacobsen, a member of the Brooklyn Rider String Quartet since 2005, is also part of Yo-Yo Ma's acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble. With the latter, he has performed in Baku, Azerbaijan, Switzerland, China, and Malaysia where he performed for the Aga Khan. He has participated in residencies in Japan's National Museums in Nara and Fukuoka; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in New York. Mr. Jacobsen has recorded with Yo-Yo Ma, Bono, and Mark O'Connor and Christina Courtin. .

Mr. Jacobsen studied conducting with Eduardo Browne at The Juilliard School and Kenneth Kiesler at Waterville Valley Music Center. He received his Bachelor of Music degree from The Juilliard School under the guidance of the late Harvey Shapiro.

About the Young People's Chorus of New York City

For more than two decades, the Young People's Chorus of New York City™ has provided children of all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds with a unique program of music education and choral performance, while maintaining a model of artistic excellence and humanity that enriches the community.

Founded by Artistic Director and 2011 MacArthur Fellowship recipient Francisco J. Núñez in 1988, YPC has become one of the most celebrated and influential youth choruses in the world, performing around the globe, releasing acclaimed recordings from across the musical spectrum, and collaborating with many of the most highly regarded composers, performers, and organizations of our time. This February YPC partners with Carnegie Hall in a three-day Transient Glory Symposium, based on its groundbreaking, 10-year commissioning program encompassing more than 60 new works for youth chorus by composers that include Pulitzer Prize, Oscar, and MacArthur "genius" grant winners. It regularly collaborates with countless other artists and institutions, which include American Public Media, American Ballet Theatre, Bang on a Can, the Kronos Quartet, the Stephen Petronio Dance Company, and The New York Pops.

About the Music Discovery Partnership

The JCC Thurnauer School of Music has been reaching out to area public and private schools since 1993, and has collaborated with the Englewood Public School District since 1997. This initiative has been praised by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation as "a stellar example...one of the finest in the state." More recently, Thurnauer has partnered with The Moriah School, also in Englewood. Offering three levels of focus, the Music Discovery Partnership serves children in grades 1 through 12 during and after school, both on-site and at the Thurnauer School of Music. For more information, please visit http://www.jccotp.org/category.aspx?catid=458.

About the JCC Thurnauer School of Music
The JCC Thurnauer School of Music, New Jersey's leading community music school, has been designated a Major Arts Institution by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Open to everyone with a desire to learn music, it offers a comprehensive program of private lessons for students of all ages on every instrument and voice, plus musicianship classes and orchestral, choral, jazz, and chamber ensembles. Concert and master class artists have included Glenn Dicterow, Pinchas Zukerman, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Paquito D'Rivera, Mark O'Connor, Alan Gilbert and musicians from the New York Philharmonic, and many more world-class musicians. Recipient of a special award for "excellence and high standards" from The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Music School is a member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education. It is part of the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, a non-profit organization serving more than 20,000 people annually from Bergen County and beyond.

More Information: http://www.jccotp.org/giftofmusic

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