Music

Stu and Josh Goldberg of Mr. Cheapo in Commack. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Stu Goldberg’s lawyer told him he was never going to make it in the midst of opening up his own record shop, Mr. Cheapo — a nickname his wife, Marcia, lovingly bestowed upon him— in Flushing, Queens.

His pursuit of a high school dream hinged on $4,000 he’d saved delivering candy to supermarkets and a lifelong love affair with music, which had turned Goldberg into a regular at garage sales and flea markets, where he bought up piles and piles of records of every genre under the sun. A self-professed “child of the 60s,” he went to Woodstock with then-girlfriend Marcia.

But nearly four decades, and two Long Island locations after taking the plunge into uncharted waters of record shop owning, Goldberg, 68, has not only made it — he’s conquered it.

Mr. Cheapo, a beloved new and used CD and record exchange business chain and haven for music enthusiasts young and old has outlived giant competitors like Virgin Megastore and Tower Records as well as a crop of local independents and stands strong in the age of Spotify and iTunes.

“I just followed my dream — I always say, part of our success is that I wasn’t smart enough to know this wasn’t a good idea,” Goldberg said as he laughed, surrounded by a library of vinyl LPs, CDs, and cassettes at Mr. Cheapo in the Mayfair Shopping Center in Commack, a town he’s worked and lived in since 1988. He set up shop there soon after closing the original Queens store for good and building a loyal customer base at his other location in Mineola.

His son, Josh, 36, who’s been working at the store since he was 13, helps him run the business now, bouncing between both locations.

The shop feels like a vibrant museum of music, perhaps a fascinating new world for younger visitors but extremely familiar territory for older visitors, with an array of album art and posters of rock icons lining the wooden walls.

There are tens of thousands of new, used, and imported records, CDs, cassettes, and 45s, on shelves and in crates. Ceiling-high shelves are also filled to the brim with DVDs, a varied collection of dramas and horror films and concert documentaries.

Customers of every shape, size, nationality, and gender gaze longingly at the fronts and backs of albums, studying them as if there will be a test on their content later.

Tim Clair, owner of Record Reserve in Kings Park. Photo by Kevin Redding

“There’s a percentage of people that just like tangible things, they like to touch it, they want to read the liner notes, they want a real CD or record,” Goldberg said. “If they’re only listening to Spotify or Sirius radio, sometimes those just don’t have what they want.”

Steven McClure, from Nesconset, sifted through some Kinks vinyl and said he’s been a loyal customer for 16 years.

“I think it’s kind of exciting to come in and find something that you’d forgotten about a long time ago,” McClure said. “I may come in here to look for Dire Straits and I’ll end up seeing something else, look at this one and that one, it’s kind of crazy — I can spend hours here. And, for me, I have to have the artwork, artwork is the most important thing apart from the record.”

When asked why his is one of the last stores of its kind, Goldberg held up his hands and explained.

“We got it all … we sell everything from Dean Martin to Metallica and anything in between,” he said. “10 years ago, I remember feeling that things were fading, the digital age was coming and we just thought we were done. Then people started thinking vinyl was a fun thing to collect, so we’re back and I don’t see it going away for a while.”

According to Nielsen’s 2016 U.S. Year-End Report, vinyl LP sales grew to more than 11 percent of total physical album sales last year.

“This marks 11 years of year-over-year increases for vinyl LPs, reaching a record sales level in the Nielsen Music era (since 1991) with over 13 million sales this year,” the report said.

“I’m very happy we have this and we seem to continue to do pretty good … I don’t think records and CDs will ever die,” Goldberg’s son, an avid record collector himself said. “We also sell video games and patches and T-shirts, and that gives us a bit more of an edge than the typical, new Brooklyn record store, where they’re just selling overpriced vinyls.”

Goldberg said every customer who walks through the doors is different.

“Our customers range from 12 to 80, you’d be amazed by what people buy … there have been old guys in their 70s buying heavy metal and young kids buying Frank Sinatra,” he said.

Pointing out a mother and young daughter buying records at the counter, he said he’s seen a new trend grow in recent years.

“That’s something new in the past three or four years, mothers buying girls record players and girls coming in to buy vinyl,” he said. “I’d never seen that before like I do now. 16-year-old girls buying Zeppelin, it’s so cool.”

A customer shops for records. Photo by Kevin Redding

Less than 10 minutes away, on Main Street in Kings Park, sits Record Reserve, a small but well-organized and fully-stocked shop that’s serious about vinyl, the only format on the shelves.

“It’s just the best form of music,” Tim Clair, the store’s owner and sole staff member said.

Clair, 52, opened the doors in 2011 when vinyl was starting to have a resurgence.

“I like giving some people a place to go to do what they enjoy and I like to bring that back to people who miss it,” he said. “People come in and look through thousands of records … you’re going to find something here.”

Shelves are decorated with records of every generation and style of music imaginable, from Miles Davis to Joe Walsh to Linda Ronstadt to obscure R&B and punk artists. Whatever there’s a market for, Clair makes sure to order it and make it available for customers.

The store is also equipped with a Spin-Clean record washer to restore and clean old records, which Clair uses to eliminate mold and dirt that might cause skips when listening to vinyl.

While he said Record Reserve sells enough to stay alive, Clair noted the record shop industry isn’t easy.

“It’s a labor of love,” Clair said. “We’re still not making money, it’s not easy at all … but I’m not going to retire. It’s something I enjoy.”

He said when he started he considered himself knowledgeable about music, but has been continually “trumped by customers.”

Roger Wilbur, 57, from Smithtown, has been a regular for about two years.

“Tim knows what I like so he’ll tell me what to stay away from, what’s good, what’s rare, and lets me play music here if I want and not a lot of places let you do that,” Wilbur said.

The customer has been trying to build back his lost record collection from the 70s.

“I got the vinyl bug,” he said. “It’s something that you can put in your hand, it doesn’t have to come off a computer. I look at this place as a time capsule, it brings me back to the 60s, 70s and 80s.”

Beaucoup Blue, from left, David and Adrian Mowry. Photo from Charles Backfish

Coinciding with the Midnight Rum: Long Island and Prohibition exhibition on view at The Long Island Museum, the Sunday Street Series, joined by the Long Island Blues Society, will welcome Beaucoup Blue in concert on Sunday, July 9 at 7 p.m. Join them for a very special evening of great blues as well as some great brews for your enjoyment provided by The Port Jeff Brewing Company. Wine will also be available.

Beaucoup Blue is the father and son Philadelphia-based duo of David and Adrian Mowry. Although blues is a staple of their repertoire, they also cite musical influences from folk, soul, R&B, jazz, country and bluegrass. A handsome range of instruments, including 6- and 12-string guitars, slide guitar, and dobro and their two soulful voices blend together like only family members can. You’ll hear their original compositions but also blues classics. They have recently released their fourth CD, “Elixer.”

Bob Westcott will open the show. An accomplished finger-style guitarist, Westcott promises to share some songs from the Prohibition Era with the audience including Clayton McMichen’s 1930 classic, “The Prohibition Blues.”

Advance sale tickets are $20 at www.sundaystreet.org through Friday, July 7, with tickets at the door for $25 (cash only). For more information, call 631-751-0066.

The cover of the Beatles’ iconic ‘Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’ album

By Kevin Redding

It was 50 years ago today … on June 1, 1967, that the Beatles released “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” in the United States and completely changed everything: music, culture, themselves, how people viewed and analyzed rock ’n’ roll.

The incredibly ambitious and experimental 13-track album — on which John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr abandoned their traditional mop-top image and sound in favor of a more conceptual, weird, wholly new product with a scope and style that hadn’t been attempted before by them or anybody else — helped usher in the Summer of Love and set the tone for the rest of the decade.

While many older albums, especially when they fall on younger ears, tend to lose their might over time, “Sgt. Pepper” still stands strong, and sounds just as vibrant and fresh as ever. To this day, it’s argued to be the greatest, if not most influential, album of all time.

Peter Winkler
Favorite Beatles song:
‘A Day in the Life’

“It was just absolutely groundbreaking,” Peter Winkler, a retired Stony Brook University professor of composition and theory and popular music, said, recalling the first time he listened to the record.

Winkler, who taught one of the very first rock music classes at the university in 1971, said he’ll never forget the week it came out and how stunned he was upon hearing the album’s epic finale “A Day in the Life” — “I had never heard anything like that before,” he said, “with that big orchestral roar — that had never happened on a pop record before.”

“Everybody was listening to the album, everybody was talking about; that doesn’t happen these days where one particular record is having that impact on everyone,” Winkler continued. “It was incredibly innovative and made this enormous splash around the world. It expanded the vocabulary of pop music in such a dramatic way. It was just a game changer. Everything that followed — Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd — came straight from ‘Sgt. Pepper.’”

Pete Kennedy
Favorite Beatles song:
‘A Day in the Life’

Pete Kennedy, a New York-based singer-songwriter who regularly performs at The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, echoed Winkler’s excitement over the innovation of the album, comparing it to the release of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales,” a grandiose, cohesive novel, amid decades of mere folktales in the Middle Ages. “That’s kind of what the Beatles did with this. They put rock music together in a much more serious way than anybody had before. It marked the beginning of the rock world that still exists now … they were already so well known and could’ve coasted along doing what they’d been doing but they took this step instead,” Kennedy said.

The album’s release coincided with, and legitimized, an emergence of rock journalists and professional critics who recognized the genre as something to be taken seriously, a notion that would’ve been inconceivable beforehand. A month before, renowned classical composer Leonard Bernstein even hosted an hour-long CBS special called “Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution” referring to the Fab Four as a group whose songs were “more adventurous than anything else written in serious music today.”

Just before the album came out, Kennedy explained, he and a lot of other people thought the Beatles were a done deal. In August 1966, the group performed their final live concert, having had enough of the screaming girls and a hectic atmosphere wherein people were burning their records after Lennon referred to the band as being “bigger than Jesus,” choosing to work exclusively from the studio from then on.

Norman Prusslin
Favorite Beatles song:
‘Getting Better’

One June afternoon the following year, Kennedy walked into a record shop and saw an unrecognizable band, dressed in colorful military costumes and surrounded by a slew of famous faces and flower-power imagery.

“Just seeing that pop-art album cover, with no advanced warning and them with mustaches, it might not seem like a big deal, but it really was because their appearance was such a big part of them,” he said. “The Beatles hairstyle and matching suit … now they looked like hippies, and it was sort of shocking.”

Norman Prusslin, the first station manager of WUSB and director of the media minor at Stony Brook, said of the infamous cover, “it was almost like their alter ego, a way for them to step out of being the Beatles … it was also one of the first times pop records had lyrics printed on the back.”

“It was a very different record, musically, it wasn’t your typical Beatles record up to that point,” Prusslin, who saw the group live in 1964, said. “It felt continuous,

Charles Backfish
Favorite Beatles song:
‘Within You Without You’

like one long thing … I think the concept of the album, rather than being just a collection of songs, became a pallet for an entire creative journey that became influential to other bands that came later. It maximized studio equipment to its fullest potential at the time and contained exploratory, autobiographical lyrics that encouraged other bands to free themselves and try different things and not be set in the two minutes and 50 seconds standard pop hit duration.”

Charles Backfish, the host of WUSB’s “Sunday Street” program, highlighted the album’s coinciding impact with the rise of FM radio. While AM was the dominant form of radio in the ’60s, with FM merely broadcasting whatever AM played, an FCC regulation went into effect in January 1967 declaring each dial needed to have different programming.

“So it opened up the option for FM stations to do something different,” Backfish said. “While AM played classic top 40 songs, FM started to explore different music and some things happening in the rock scene at the time lent themselves to being played on there … and ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ is a perfect example. There were no singles released from the album, each song segued into another, and so it’s an album that found a real home on FM radio and helped drive the popularity of FM radio.”

The Kennedys will return for their ninth Dylan birthday celebration on May 21. Photo by Jeremy Lebled

By Kevin Redding

The times may be a changin’ but the songs of Bob Dylan continue to be sung. On Sunday, May 21, in celebration of the Nobel Laureate’s 76th birthday, The Long Island Museum, in partnership with WUSB-FM’s Sunday Street Concert Series and the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, will host the 12th annual Dylan tribute concert in the Carriage Museum’s Gillespie Room at 7 p.m.

Several local and outside musicians — including concert staples Pete and Maura Kennedy, whose covers include guitars, sitars and ukuleles, Rod MacDonald of the revered tribute band Big Brass Bed, and Russ Seeger of Levon Helm’s Last Hombres, who will perform Dylan deep tracks like “Foot of Pride” — will strum and sing through decades of material, from 1965’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” to 1997’s “Love Sick.”

Much of the setlist will feature songs from two touchstone albums celebrating anniversaries this year — 1967’s “John Wesley Harding,” Dylan’s return to his acoustic roots after three albums of going electric, turns 50, and 1997’s “Time Out of Mind,” his Grammy-Award-winning comeback album, turns 20.

“Every year the show takes on a different dimension … it’s always different and never stale,” said Charlie Backfish, host of the long-running, weekly Stony Brook University radio program “Sunday Street” from which the series stemmed. “We have unique interpretations of Dylan’s songs and we don’t just do the greatest hits; we really go through the catalog and try to play songs you don’t hear often, making it very different than the usual Dylan tribute show.”

Speaking of deep tracks, Seeger is expected to perform “Foot of Pride,” a song Dylan wrote and recorded in 1983 but never released on an album.

Backfish said he chose Dylan as the focus of the tribute concert because of the singer-songwriter’s incredibly prolific career. “He has been at home in a variety of different musical settings over the years, starting out in a folk direction and moving toward rock and then into a country sound and then in a gospel direction later in his career — he’s moved in fascinating ways, his songs are incredible and it [really] opens up the possibilities of using the lyrics and melodies and taking them in different directions and there’s a lot of room to move with Dylan songs. It’s terribly interesting and it’s quite a rich catalog we have to go with,” he said.

The Sunday Street Series started in 2004 at the University Cafe at Stony Brook University when Backfish put on concerts featuring the singer-songwriters he’d interviewed and played on his radio program. In 2014, he was in need of a different venue to host the concerts and turned to The Long Island Museum, which took it over a year later.

“We were wanting to do a singer-songwriter concert series at the museum when Charlie approached us,” Neil Watson, the museum’s executive director, said. Since Backfish came aboard, the museum has hosted more than 20 concerts featuring an ever-changing roster of artists. “It’s activated our performance space on a regular basis like nothing can. People who would never have come to the museum are now being introduced to it in a different way.”

Watson, who noted “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” as his favorite Dylan song, said he was thrilled to be hosting this particular event.

“This concert series sells out very fast and I think it’s because Dylan’s music has touched so many people for different reasons,” Watson said. “What these musicians do with the material is critical and when you hear their interpretations of his songs, they take on a new life. The [concert] captures the spirit of Bob Dylan. It will be a rollicking good time.”

The Long Island Museum is located at 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. Tickets may be purchased in advance at www.sundaystreet.org through Friday, May 19 for $30. If available, tickets may be purchased at the door for $35 (cash only). Please call the museum at 631-751-0066 the day of the show to confirm ticket availability.

Eric Stewart

Eric Stewart will raise the baton on Saturday, May 13 when the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association (LISCA) presents its annual spring concert, Masterworks by French Composers of the 19th and 20th Century at 8 p.m. at St. James Roman Catholic Church, located at 429 Route 25A in Setauket.

Stewart took over the role of conductor in January after Thomas Schmidt, the previous conductor of the venerable, nearly 50-year old community chorus retired after serving for 11 years.

Eric Stewart

Expressing his whole-hearted enthusiasm for the selected works of the upcoming program, Stewart said, “This wonderful, all-French program features delightful variety, despite the fact that all three pieces were written within one hundred years of one another (1865-1959). Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racine is a beloved staple of the choral repertoire. It is short, sweet and features melodies and harmonies prototypical of French Romanticism.”

He continues, “Poulenc’s Gloria mixes light and playful moments with some deep and brooding passages. It is full of wit and beautiful contrast. The highlight of the program, Durufle’s Requiem, re-imagines Gregorian Chant, combining it with 20th century impressionistic sensibilities. Chant-like melodies and Renaissance inspired counterpoint are imbued with lush harmonies and sweeping orchestral gestures. I could not think of a more exciting program with which to make my debut with LISCA.”

Classical music was not Stewart’s first love. Dabbling with a variety of instruments as a child led to an intense focus in his teenage years on the guitar with a plan to pursue a music degree in performance of rock/jazz fusion style. An “aha moment” came at age 17 with the purchase of a CD of Mozart Piano Concerti.

“Struck so deeply by the music,” his focus changed completely. Piano studies followed, but a sense that it was too late to be pursuing a classical instrument for performance, his focus shifted to composition and conducting. A summer spent at Interlochen Arts Camp cemented his decision to pursue a career in classical music. Stewart studied composition and conducting at the Peabody Conservatory (B.M. and M.M.), going on to earn a doctorate in composition from the University of Toronto. His compositions have been performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

We look forward to introducing Stewart to our faithful audience of the past 49 years and extend a special invitation to those who haven’t experienced our concerts in the past as we anticipate our 50th anniversary next season. A reception with light refreshments will be held following the concert.

Tickets may be purchased through our website at www.lisca.org, from singers and at the door. General admission is $25, seniors, $20 and students are free. For further information, call 631-751-2743.

Submitted by LISCA member, Martina Matkovic

The cast of ‘Respect,’ from left, Jessica Contino, Amanda-Camille, Lori Beth Belkin and Elizabeth Ann Castrogiovanni. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc

By Michael Tessler

Let me start by saying that I don’t think I was the show’s intended audience. That being said, this became one of my favorite shows in recent memory. Theatre Three’s “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women,” a jukebox musical by Dorothy Marcic that opened this weekend, had me laughing, tapping my feet and, on two occasions, holding back tears (alas, to no avail).

Skillfully directed by Mary Powers, this truly powerful production tells not just the story of one woman or one era — but rather represents in so many ways the diversity and difficult journey toward equality experienced by all women.

Clockwise from left, Amanda-Camile, Jessica Contino, Lori Beth Belkin, Elizabeth Ann Castrogiovanni. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc

Music, as I was often reminded growing up, is a reflection of our souls and in many ways a caricature of how we view ourselves. This piece takes the most popular music of the last century and uses it to form an evocative narrative that demonstrates just how powerful music can be.

Music in its most righteous form can be used as a tool for liberation and in its worst used to reinforce oppression. Its impact, especially in American culture, has very much defined the national consciousness.

This show delves into that concept as we meet the protagonist, presumably the show’s playwright. She is a widow and entering a stage in her life where she desperately wishes to better understand herself and the women in her family. She takes it upon herself to research the most popular music of the previous century, beginning a powerful journey of self-discovery and liberation.

With musical direction by Steve McCoy, this show’s small but dynamic cast is genuinely empowering. Their harmonies are beautiful and ever-changing as the show travels through the decades. They belt out the classics and remind you of a few forgotten treasures. No matter what your taste, this show has something for you, from the mesmerizing harmonies of “Mr. Sandman” to the fierce “I Will Survive.” Lori Beth Belkin, Elizabeth Ann Castrogiovanni, Jessica Contino and Amanda-Camille shine in their performances from heartfelt soul to rock and roll.

Sari Feldman’s choreography evolves with the production, masterfully adapting with each new era. You’ll get a taste of nearly every decade, from the Charleston to the more contemporary dance moves of Britney Spears and everything in-between.

The show’s set and lighting design by Randall Parsons and Robert W. Henderson Jr. doesn’t overly complicate itself but rather compliments the cast perfectly, featuring impressive light installations that provide ample mood lighting and a screen that provides historical visuals and points of reference throughout the show — great embellishments to an already great performance.

“Respect” is an incredible spectacle that transports the viewer through time using the power of music. Theatre Three’s matinee audience was the most lively I’ve ever seen. Viewers young and old found themselves clapping and resisting the urge to sing along.

All of Athena Hall was captivated by nostalgia and the beautiful sounds produced by this enormously talented cast and on-stage pit. Personalities of the past returned to life with brief flashes of Rosa Parks, Robert Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, Scarlett O’Hara and so many others.

This musical shouldn’t just be watched by those who find comfort in the nostalgic sounds of their youth, but by the men and women of today who will leave the theater with a new found appreciation for all the progress we’ve made and the work still left to do. This show is empowering, humbling, emotional, hysterical and wonderfully refreshing. For me, it was the surprise treat of the season!

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women” on the Mainstage through March 25. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 ages 5 to 12. Children under 5 not permitted. Wednesday matinee $20. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Misuzu Tanaka. Photo by Denis Gostev

The Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council in conjunction with Temple Isaiah in Stony Brook recently announced its line-up for the fifth season of the Triad Concert Series.

The classical music series opens with a performance by the Washington Square Winds, a woodwind quintet from New York City, on Sunday, March 5. Formed in 2009, the group will perform chamber music by Shostakovich, Reicha, Taffanel and more.

Above, the Washington Square Winds; back row, from left, Casey Cronan, Gregory Weissman; front row, from left, Elyssa Plotkin, Caryn Toriaga and Allison Nicotera. Photo from Paula Plotkin

On Sunday, March 19, (date corrected from print version) Christina McGann, Jingwen Tu and Hsin Chiao Liao will be performing works by Beethoven, Bloch and Brahms on violin and piano. The series will conclude on Sunday, April 30 with a performance by Misuzu Tanaka. The pianist will perform works by Mozart, Prokofiev, Bach and Rachmaninoff.

“I am very proud and excited to share what is in store for our community with Season 5 of the Triad Concert Series,” said Paula Plotkin, chair of the series and GPJAC board member. “When you come to one or all of our classical concerts, you leave behind your worries and stressors of the day and are transported to a wonderful world of music and culture,” she added.

All concerts begin at 3 p.m. at Temple Isaiah at 1404 Stony Brook Road in Stony Brook. A reception with light refreshments and a “meet and greet” follow each performance. CDs will be available for purchase. Tickets for adults are $15 in advance, $18 at the door; $10 seniors 65 and older and students high school age and older, children ages 15 and younger are free. A $40 series ticket for all three shows is also available.

To purchase tickets in advance, send a check to GPJAC c/o Plotkin 15 Oxford Drive, Port Jefferson Station, NY 11776 or visit www.gpjac.org and click on PayPal. While on the Triad page of the website, click on the link next to each concert description to hear the musicians perform. Questions? Please call Paula at 631-902-1584.

Susan Deaver will conduct the Stony Brook University Orchestra on Feb. 28. Photo from SBU

By Rita J. Egan

The musicians of the Stony Brook University Orchestra, consisting of 70 undergraduate students, are tuning up their instruments. On Feb. 28 at the Staller Center, they will present their Annual Family Orchestra Concert, The Magic of Music, featuring pianist Emily Ramonetti, winner of the school’s 2016 Pre-College Concerto Competition.

Previously called the Annual Family Concert, university conductor Susan Deaver said this year the word “orchestra” was added to the title of the event so those attending will have a better understanding of the type of music featured in the show when purchasing tickets. Deaver said the one-hour concert includes short pieces and is a great way to introduce orchestral music to children who may be attending this type of performance for the first time. She also does her best to choose music that people of all ages will enjoy, and priced at $5, tickets are affordable so everyone in the family can easily attend.

Northport High School senior Emily Ramonetti will be the featured pianist at the concert. Photo from SBU

The conductor said the focus on shorter pieces allows the orchestra to demonstrate a variety of numbers from various composers from different countries as well as centuries. Plus, during the show each of the sections — woodwinds, strings, brass and percussion — are featured. The hope is for the audience to get a well-rounded orchestral experience. “They get the maximum amount and variety of orchestra music in one hour as possible,” Deaver said.

Mozart’s Overture to the “Magic Flute,” which will be performed on Feb. 28, influenced this year’s theme, The Magic of Music, according to the conductor. “Always, music has some magic to it. It’s such a universal language. Something is, I think, so magical and wonderful about the sounds of the music and instruments of an orchestra,” Deaver said.

The concert will include Saint-Saens’ “Danse Bacchanale” and a tribute to Leonard Bernstein with selections from “West Side Story,” according to Deaver. She said the concert will open with “Festival Prelude” composed by Alfred Reed. “It’s brilliant orchestration. It’s short, it’s just a perfect opener,” the conductor said.

Deaver’s wish for the annual event is that everyone in attendance from the young children to the grandparents will gain a greater appreciation for orchestral and classical music. During the concerts, the conductor said she and the orchestra members always interact with the audience by asking them questions in hopes that they will feel more involved with the show. “I think it helps them break down any sort of barriers, because they feel part of the concert, too, because they are,” she said.

As for featured pianist, Ramonetti will be playing the 1st movement of Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2. A member of the university’s pre-college program since 10th grade, she won the 2016 Stony Brook University Pre-College Concerto Competition right before Thanksgiving. Deaver said at the competition the young pianist “was very well prepared, very musical.”

The senior at Northport High School has fit right in with the orchestra during rehearsals. “She’s been great. She’s a very mature, musically prepared musician. She already had it memorized from the competition, so then when she came to rehearsal, she fit in right way. She did really great. So it’s been our pleasure to work with her,” the conductor said.

Ramonetti, who has studied piano since she was three years old, said she realized she had a passion for music in fifth grade when the theme of the school’s yearbook was “We Dream Big.” “My dream that I put in the yearbook was to be a performer and travel around the world,” she said.

The pianist, who is also a violinist and composer, is enjoying rehearsing with the orchestra, and while in the past she has participated in performances, including playing background parts for her school orchestra, she admits that rehearsing with the college ensemble is different. “It’s definitely a much bigger sound than just rehearsing with a second piano,” she said.

Her performance piece was featured in the Disney classic “Fantasia,” and she explained that Shostakovich composed it in the 20th century. “It’s very, very difficult, very virtuosic,” she said. The teenager is looking forward to performing with the orchestra and presenting the concerto to the audience. “I hope they’ll see how much I love this piece, and how much I love performing it with this orchestra,” Ramonetti said.

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook will present The Magic of Music on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. on the Main Stage. Tickets are $5 for all ages and are on sale at the center’s box office, 631-632-ARTS (2787). For more information about the University Orchestra, visit www.stonybrook.edu/music or call 631-632-7330.

This year's Gala will feature Itzhak Perlman. Photo from Staller Center

By Erika Riley

After a month-long break this holiday season, Stony Brook University’s Staller Center returns for the second half of its 2016-17 season with compelling performances. There is something for everybody, and you won’t want to miss out on these exciting shows.

“The second half of the Staller Center season really shows the diversity of our programs to fill the broad and varied tastes of our students, faculty, staff and greater community,” said Alan Inkles, director of Staller Center for the Arts. “Shows range from the world’s greatest violinist, Itzhak Perlman, to a spectacular cirque show, “Cuisine & Confessions” featuring aerealists, jugglers and acrobats and boasts a full kitchen where the cast cooks for our audience.

Inkles continued, “We truly span the arts in every format this spring. Bollywood’s finest song and dance routines will abound in Taj Express; Off Book/Out of Bounds with Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata will add their pop/rock take on famous Broadway tunes; dance explodes as the Russian National Ballet Theatre brings a program with two story ballets, ‘Carmen’ and ‘Romeo & Juliet.’ The impeccable Martha Graham Dance Company brings their modern dance fire to Staller. Jazz abounds with award-winning artists including pianist Vijay Iyer and singer Cécile McLorin Salvant. There’s of course much more and with continued private and corporate support, we continue to keep ticket prices reasonable for everyone to attend and to attend often!”

Musical performances

Vijay Iyer will be performing on Feb. 25. Photo from Staller Center.

On Feb. 19 at 7 p.m., Peter Kiesewalter, founder of the East Village Opera Company and Brooklyn Runkfunk Orkestrata, will be leading a high-energy rock show titled Off Book/Out of Bounds. The show, held in the Recital Hall, will feature a four-piece rock band performing rock versions of well-loved theater songs. Tickets are $42.

Grammy-nominated composer and pianist Vijay Iyer will be performing with his sextet in the Recital Hall on Feb. 25 at 8 p.m.. Described by The New Yorker as “jubilant and dramatic,” he plays pure jazz that is currently at the center of attention in the jazz scene. Tickets are $42.

The Staller Center’s 2017 Gala will take place on March 4 at 8 p.m. on the Main Stage and will feature violinist Itzhak Perlman. Perlman is the recipient of over 12 Grammys and several Emmys and worked on film scores such as “Schindler’s List” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Tickets are $75 and Gala Supporters can also make additional donations to enhance Staller Center’s programs and educational outreach activities.

Starry Nights returns to the Recital Hall on March 8 at 8 p.m. this year under the direction of Colin Carr, who will also be performing cello during the program. Artists-in-Residence at Stony Brook will be playing beautiful classics such as Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto and Schubert’s Piano Trio #3 in E flat major. Tickets are $38.

Peter Cincotti will perform on March 9. Photo from Staller Center

Newly added to the roster is singer, songwriter and pianist Peter Cincotti who will perform an intimate concert in the Recital Hall on March 9 at 8 p.m. Named “one of the most promising singer-pianists of the next generation” by the New York Times, Cincotti will be featuring his newest album, Long Way From Home. With a piano, a bench, a microphone and his band, Cincotti will take his audience on a breathtaking musical ride. Tickets are $30.

The Five Irish Tenors will be performing a lineup of beloved Irish songs and opera on March 18 at 8 p.m., the day after St. Patrick’s Day. Songs include “Down by the Sally Gardens,” “Will You Go Lassie Go” and “Danny Boy.” Tickets to the concert, taking place in the Recital Hall, are $42.

The award-winning Emerson String Quartet, with Eugene Drucker, Philip Setzer, Lawrence Dutton and Paul Watkins, will return on April 4 at 8 p.m. in the Recital Hall. The program will feature works by Dvorak, Debussy and Tchaikovsky. Tickets are $48.

Cecile McLorin Salvant will close out the musical performances of the season on April 29 at 8 p.m. in the Recital Hall with unique interpretations of blues and jazz compositions with the accompaniment of Sullivan Fortner on piano. Salvant is a Grammy award winner and has returned to the Staller Center after popular demand from her 2013 performance. The performance is sure to be theatrical and emotional. Tickets are $42.

Dance performances

Taj Express will perform on Feb. 11. Photo from Staller Center

Staller Center’s first dance performance of 2017 is sure to be a hit. Taj Express will be performing on Feb. 11 at 8 p.m., delivering a high-energy performance of Bollywood dances, celebrating the colorful dance and music of India. Through a fusion of video, dance and music, the ensemble will take you on a magical journey through modern Indian culture and society; this full-scale production will fuse east and west with classical dance steps, sexy moves and traditional silks and turbans. The extravagant performance will take place on the Main Stage, and tickets are $48.

The Russian National Ballet Theatre will be performing on the Main Stage on March 11 at 8 p.m. Created in Moscow, the Ballet Theatre blends the timeless tradition of classical Russian ballet with new developments in dance from around the world. The Ballet Theatre will be performing both “Carmen” and “Romeo & Juliet.” Tickets are $48.

Canada’s award-winning circus/acrobat troupe, Les 7 doigts de la main (7 Fingers of the Hand), will be performing their show Cuisine & Confessions on the Main Stage on April 1 (8 p.m.) and April 2 (2 p.m.) The show is set in a kitchen and plays to all five of the senses, mixing acrobatic cirque choreography and pulsating music with other effects, such as the scents of cookies baking in the oven, the taste of oregano and the touch of hands in batter. A crowd pleaser for all ages, tickets are $42.

The last dance performance of the season will be on April 8 at 8 p.m. by the Martha Graham Dance Company. The program will showcase masterpieces by Graham alongside newly commissioned works by contemporary artists inspired by Graham. The dance performance will take place on the Main Stage and tickets are $48.

Not just for kids

The Cashore Marionettes will present a show titled Simple Gifts. Photo from Staller Center

The ever unique Cashore Marionettes will be presenting a show called Simple Gifts in the Recital Hall on March 26 at 4 p.m. The Cashore Marionettes will showcase the art of puppetry through humorous and poignant scenes set to music by classics like Vivaldi, Beethoven and Copland. Tickets to see the engineering marvels at work are $20.

The Met: Live in HD

The Metropolitan Opera HD Live will be returning once again to the Staller Center screen. The screenings of the operas feature extras such as introductions and backstage interviews. There will be seven screenings throughout the second half of the season: “L’amour de Loin” on Jan. 14, “Romeo et Juliette” on Jan. 21, “Rusalka,” on Feb. 26, “La Traviata” on March 12, “Idomeneo” on April 9, “Eugene Onegin” on May 7 and “Der Rosenkavalier” on May 13. The screenings are all at 1:00 p.m., except for “Der Rosenkavalier,” which is at 12:30 p.m. For a full schedule and to buy tickets, visit www.stallercenter.com or call at 631-632-ARTS.

Films

‘Hidden Figures’ will be screened on April 28.

As always, the Staller Center will be screening excellent films throughout the upcoming months. Through April 28, two movies will be screened on Friday evenings: one at 7 p.m. and one at 9 p.m. On Feb. 3, “Newtown,” a documentary about the Sandy Hook shooting, and “Loving,” a story of the first interracial marriage in America will both screen. “American Pastoral,” starring Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning will screen on Feb. 17; and “Jackie,” starring Natalie Portman, will screen on March 24. The season will finish off on April 28 with “Hidden Figures,” a true story of the African American female mathematicians who worked for NASA during the space race, and “La La Land,” a modern-day romantic musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

Tickets to the movie screenings are $9 for adults, $7 for students, seniors and children and $5 SBU students. Tickets for the shows and films may be ordered by calling 631-632-2787. Order tickets online by visiting www.stallercenter.com.

About the author: Stony Brook resident Erika Riley is a sophomore at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. She recently interned at TBR during her winter break and hopes to advance in the world of journalism and publishing after graduation.

Over the summer, Shoreham-Wading River graduate and singer-songwriter Gina Mingoia stepped into her father’s home studio in their garage to fulfill a promise she made to her late friend and classmate Tom Cutinella, a 16-year-old student who died in October 2014 following a head-on collision during a football game.

Months before his death, when they were both entering 11th grade, Cutinella told Mingoia, who was then in the process of auditioning for NBC’s “The Voice,” that if she ever became famous, she had to write a song about him.

More than two years later, it’s the 18-year-old singer’s heartfelt and moving “I Wish (Tom’s Song),” released last week on iTunes, Spotify and YouTube with a music video that’s reached more than 8,000 views, about Cutinella, their long friendship and the impact of his loss, that has catapulted her into the local spotlight.

Gina Mingoia and Tom Cutinella in eighth grade. Photo from Gina Mingoia

Both the song, which recently hit the airwaves on 101.7 “The Beach,” and its video, which shows Mingoia reflecting on her friend in several settings including the high school’s recently-dedicated Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field, have served as sources of healing for those closest to Cutinella, especially Mingoia herself.

“I Wish” was the first song she wrote after the fatal accident, between December 2014 and January 2015, after taking some time away from her passion in the midst of mourning.

Even though she had been trying to write songs in the aftermath that weren’t about the loss, she couldn’t. Finally, she sat down and the song came pouring out in as little as 15 minutes. “I wish I got to say goodbye,” sings Mingoia in the bridge. “To see his smile one more time.”

“The words came quickly,” Mingoia said. “I played the guitar and wrote it. I didn’t even show my dad for a while after … I just kind of kept it to myself.”

Her father Sal, a Suffolk County police officer and local musician who served as producer and played all the instruments on “I Wish,” said the song helped his daughter get through her devastation.

“[Gina] had a strange reaction to the death; all of her friends were collapsing and hitting the ground and screaming and crying, but she almost had no reaction,” Sal Mingoia said. “She just walked around in a daze — so maybe the song is what brought her out of it and brought her back to normal. She put all her feelings into it and it just came out.”

“To know that [Gina Mingoia] respected and loved [Tom] so much that she would write about him was amazing. We were just so humbled that she did it.”

—Kelli Cutinella

After recording “I Wish” in the middle of summer, Mingoia said her father was adamant about filming a video for the song and showing it to the world, but she knew she couldn’t do that without the approval of the Cutinella family. Sal and Gina Mingoia have performed together at the Thomas Cutinella Golf Tournament, a fundraising event started by Frank and Kelli Cutinella, Tom’s parents, and it was there, in October 2016, that Mingoia shared the song with them.

“I thought they were going to say no,” she said. “I thought it was going to be too invasive, but they loved it and pushed for it. Once it was done, Mrs. Cutinella just got right up and hugged me, for like five minutes, and said in my ear that he is watching and that he loved it. That made me cry.”

Kelli Cutinella, who thinks Mingoia is “an amazing artist with a beautiful voice,” was especially moved. As it’s their mission in life to keep her son’s memory alive and his legacy strong, she and her husband felt honored.

“She did not have to write this song about [Tom] … she wrote it from her heart and that speaks volumes to us,” Cutinella said. “To know that she respected and loved [Tom] so much that she would write about him was amazing. We were just so humbled that she did it, and as soon as she shared it with us, we shared it with others.”

Thomas Cutinella died following a head-on collision on the football field in 2014. Photo from Kelli Cutinella

For the video, shot in November, Sal Mingoia enlisted the help of his friend Frank Lombardi, a police helicopter pilot and skilled cameraman whose expertise helped bring the message of the song to life.

The emotional video features the singer, wearing a hat that bears Cutinella’s jersey number “54” throughout, looking at her late friend’s “in loving memory” page in the yearbook, clippings from newspaper articles following his passing, and a local barber shop adorned with his name and number.

In a shot in the beginning of the video, Mingoia shows a tattoo on her bicep that reads “I love you” in Cutinella’s handwriting, taken from a little note, featured at the end of the video, he gave to her in health class.

She said she and Cutinella, upon meeting the summer before sixth grade, were immediate friends, were always in the same science and math honors classes, and even formed an “apocalyptic preparation squad” through their love of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

“There was not a single person in the world who knew him and didn’t love him,” Mingoia said. “He was just a genuinely good person in every way.”

She thinks it’s incredible that even people who don’t know her, only knowing Cutinella, are sharing the video, a majority of whom have sent her messages sharing their favorite memories of the former Wildcats athlete.

“They’re incredible to read,” she said. “I just want people who loved Tom and need a way to remember him to use [the video]. I think our community, in particular, and all of Long Island can relate to it.”

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