Imagine yourself in an intimate place, absorbing the glorious sound of
music or laughing to the
comedian’s antics while surrounded by the inspiring colors and forms of works of art!
The Heinz W. Otto Gallery has 12-foot ceilings, superb acoustics, and a seating capacity of 100.
Benefit Variety Show
"That's Entertainment" - a Benefit Performance for the Watchung Arts Center
Saturday, April 29, 8 p.m.
“That’s Entertainment!”, a fundraiser for the benefit of the Watchung Arts Center, will feature an array of performers of many ages, many styles, and many talents.
Appearing at the Watchung Arts Center for the first time will be vocalist Sharon McGuire and singer/songwriter Kristina Ali. Eleven-year-old piano Tyler Fengya, who performed with “Amani” at the WAC’s 2016 Holiday concert, will make a solo appearance. Filling out the bill are two performers returning from last year’s “Let Us Entertain You” variety show: vocalist Roseann Latore Sicola, and singer/guitarist Joe Higgins.
A rhythm section consisting of Fred Fischer on piano, Thaddeus Expose on bass and drummer Gordon Lane will accompany the performers, along with saxophonist Marty Eigen, who will also serve as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.
Kristina Ali - A singer/songwriter and self-taught guitarist, Kristina is a recent graduate of The College of New Jersey with a degree in psychology; she plans to attend Montclair State University for her Masters in Music Therapy.
Tyler Fengya - Eleven-year-old Tyler has been studying classical piano since the age of 3 and currently studies jazz piano, as well as voice and guitar. He has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Joe Higgins - Joe has been playing guitar since the age of 13. He performed at several clubs on Long Island before moving to NJ in the '70's. Joe helps run a weekly workshop for the Meetup group, New Jersey Acoustic Music in the Park, helping other musicians develop their performance skills.
Sharon McGuire - Vocalist Sharon McGuire is a retired professional actress and lawyer. She works now as the Social Justice Coordinator of the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield and frequently performs in community theater.
Roseann Latore Sicola -Roseann, a classically trained soprano, has been giving recitals and performing in concerts and shows for over 25 years. She is a weekly soloist and cantor at St. Mary's Church in Watchung, where she also teaches music classes for preschoolers.
Saturday, May 20, 8 p.m
The program will feature Sonata in D minor ‘Tempest’ by Beethoven inspired by Shakespeare’s play, Sonata in B-flat minor by Chopin, works by Liszt, Rachmaninoff and more.
Sophia Agranovich, an internationally acclaimed soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and educator, is “a bold, daring pianist in the tradition of the Golden Age Romantics…A tigress of the piano” - Fanfare. Her performances are captivating audiences by the “orison of uncommon beauty” - Audiophile, “the extraordinary dramatic urgency”, “the ideal balance she achieves between the intellectual and the emotional” - Fanfare, “interpretation that dares to be different”, “magnificent shading and superior musicianship” - American Record Guide.
A Steinway Artist, Ms. Agranovich has performed in USA, Europe, Israel, and Canada. Among her venues are Avery Fisher Hall, Bruno Walter Auditorium and Paul Hall at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Roerich and Metropolitan museums, Steinway Hall, and Bargemusic, all in New York City, Salle Cortot in Paris, Ehrbarsaal in Vienna. Ms. Agranovich has collaborated with prominent musicians and members of the major orchestras.
Sophia Agranovich’s discography received outstanding reviews and includes “Romantic Virtuoso Masterpieces” (works by Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Scriabin - 2010), “Franz Liszt - Bicentennial Tribute” (“Un Sospiro”, “La Campanella”, Rhapsodie Espagnole, Sonata in b minor - 2012), “Passion and Fantasy” (Beethoven: “Appassionata”, Chopin: Fantaisie and Sonata in b minor - 2014), Brahms-Paganini Variations books I and II, Schumann: Symphonic Etudes, Schumann-Liszt: “Widmung” - 2014, Schubert: ‘Wanderer’ Fantasie and Chopin: 4 Ballades - 2015, Schumann: Carnaval and Fantasie – 2016, Chopin: Nocturne in C minor and Polonaise-Fantaisie; Liszt: 3 Sonetti del Petrarca, ‘Dante’ Sonata’, Hungarian Rhapsody #14 – 2017. Recently Ms. Agranovich was awarded a Gold Medal and four Silver Medals from Global Music Awards, two Gold Medals from Prestige Music Awards, Best Classical Solo from Akademia Music Awards, and her recordings were broadcast in Brazil on Universidade FM 106.9 “Company of the Music”, in Canada on CKWR ‘Women in Music’, and in New York on WWFM ‘Piano Matters’ and WQXR ‘Reflections from the Keyboard’ with David Dubal.
A native of Ukraine, Sophia Agranovich won the Ukrainian Young Artists Competition at 10, being the youngest participant. Her teachers were Anna Stolarevich and Alexander Edelman, peers of Vladimir Horowitz at the Kiev Conservatory in the class of Felix Blumenfeld. At 15, Ms. Agranovich entered the Juilliard School in New York where she studied with legendary professors Sascha Gorodnitzki and Nadia Reisenberg. She had earned Bachelor and Master Degrees holding full scholarship and a Teaching Fellowship at Juilliard, won First Prize in the Bergen Philharmonic Competition, and continued Doctoral studies at Columbia University.
Sophia Agranovich is an esteemed pedagogue, lecturer, master class clinician and adjudicator, and is a recipient of numerous teaching awards. Her students are consistently winning top prizes in national and international competitions. She is a member of NARAS and other organizations, listed in ‘Who’s Who in America’ and ‘Who’s Who in the World’, Program Chair and Board member of Music Educators Association of NJ, and Artistic Director of classical music series at the Watchung Arts Center.
For more information, visit www.sophiagranovich.com.
Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Laub
Saturday, May 6, 8 p.m.
The Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Laub Duo have been performing for the past 15 years after a lifetime association as teacher and student. As a duo they perform for audiences all over the US and Canada in clubs, concert halls and jazz festivals.
For this performance, Bucky and Ed will be joined by jazz guitarist, Roni Ben-Hur.
Bucky Pizzarelli was born in Paterson, NJ in 1926. Piz is a world-renowned jazz guitarist. His career spans over 70 years from the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra, to the Johnny Carson Tonight Show. Hundreds of jazz concerts worldwide, including White House performances with Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra, and Claude “Fiddler” Williams, with Presidents Reagan and Clinton add to the list.
His numerous worldwide tours also included performances with practically every jazz legend, such as Stephane Grapelli, Slam Stewart, Tal Farlow, Rosemary Clooney, Zoot Sims, Benny Carter, Michael Feinstein and Charlie Byrd, to name a few. He has hundreds of jazz recordings with every major jazz great, including his own solo albums and work with his two sons, John and Martin Pizzarelli. He is on the soundtrack of Woody Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown and appeared on PBS with Les Paul and Tal Farlow, The New Jersey Jazz Guitars [Filmed at Rutgers University]. Last year, Bucky became one of the very first musicians in New Jersey to have two of his guitars, along with a recorded history of his lifetime in music, inducted into the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. In 2011 Bucky was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame and in 2012 recorded with Paul McCartney on his latest Grammy Winning Album, “Kisses On The Bottom.”
Ed Laub is a locally renowned guitarist and vocalist whose style has been compared to a blend of Kenny Rankin, Chet Baker and James Taylor all being accompanied by Bucky Pizzarelli. Ed says, “That’s not bad company to be associated with. They were amongst the artists to whom I listened to and was most influenced by. I guess I would say I am honored with that comparison.” Because of Ed’s talent as an accompanist and the fact that he is one of the more accomplished 7 String guitarists, he is sought after by many of the top guitarists in the NYC metropolitan area to back them up and adds a pianistic style that makes a duo sound more like a trio. Focusing mostly on the American Songbook genre Ed also loves to perform the great Brazilian classics using a nylon 7-string guitar.
Fifteen years ago Ed became the steady partner to his teacher, hero and close friend, Bucky Pizzarelli. They now travel all over the metropolitan area and major cities in the US, playing in clubs, concert venues and jazz festivals. All About Jazz Magazine said, “Pizzarelli is the complete jazz musician and Laub complements him perfectly!” Besides being the consummate rhythm guitarist and accompanist Ed is in demand as a vocalist and performs with such great artists as Gene Bertoncini, John Pizzarelli, Paul Meyers, Martin Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Frank Vignola, Jay Leonhart, Russ Kassoff, Russell Malone, Jack Wilkins and special guest appearances with the late Kenny Rankin.
Roni Ben-Hur has earned a sterling reputation as a musician and educator, renowned for his golden tone, improvisational brilliance, compositional lyricism and ability to charm peers, students and listeners alike. Eminent jazz critic Gary Giddins wrote in the Village Voice: “A limber and inventive guitarist, Ben-Hur keeps the modernist flame alive and pure, with a low flame burning in every note… [He’s] a guitarist who knows the changes and his own mind.” Ben-
Hur – born in Israel in 1962 but a longtime American citizen, now based in New Jersey – has released nine albums as leader or co-leader, with Time Out New York calling him “a formidable and consummately lyrical guitarist.” The Star-
Ledger summed him up this way: “A deep musician, a storyteller, Ben-Hur works with a warm, glowing sound and has an alluring way of combining engaging notes with supple rhythm.” Along with releasing acclaimed educational products – including the instructional DVD Chordability and method book Talk Jazz: Guitar – Ben-Hur has directed international jazz camps for nearly 15 years.
Jazz guitar star Russell Malone got it right when he said: “Everything Roni does is beautiful. He has the magic touch.”
All seats for this performance are priced at $25. They are expected to sell out quickly so be sure to purchase your ticket in advance at Eventbrite. For more information, please call 908-753-0190 or e-mail us.
ImpresaRIO Series: Rio Clemente
Friday,June 2, 8 p.m.
Rio Clemente mixes a strong classical background with a rich knowledge of jazz history, and then adds an amazing sense of creativity and interpretation which draws his audience up in a musical embrace and takes them on an extraordinary journey of fanciful melodies and scintillating rhythms. As a master pianist, educator, composer, arranger and recording artist, Clemente leaves an indelible melodic memory long after the piano becomes silent. As his infectious good humor enlivens the audience, he breathes new life into jazz and popular standards that make his legion of fans shake their heads in amazement. And those who hear Rio for the first time are instantly transformed into fans.
A child prodigy, Rio received a BMI scholarship for musical theatre and then continued his education at the Julliard School of Music. He went from Julliard to Nashville, where he spent two years as a performer and composer, making appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. With his classical training, Rio developed a style embracing a diversity of music that makes him one of the most expressive and versatile pianists anywhere and one of the most sought after.
After several television appearances, Rio advanced professionally to playing at several distinguished concert halls and festivals, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, Manhattan’s famous Birdland and the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel, as well as the Newport and JVC Jazz Festivals, and a memorable appearance at the White House. He regularly appears with groups such as The Morris Choral Society and Orchestra and at jazz venues from Manhattan to Cape Code and from Florida to California.
A native of Morristown, NJ, Clemente is New Jersey’s own jewel of the jazz world. He is a member of the Morristown Hall of Fame, was named by the NJ Council of the Arts as an Outstanding Professional of the Year, and recognized as one of the “Top 40 New Jerseyans” by the New Jersey Monthly. He is a proud member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary at Lake Hopatcong, NJ.Tickets will be on sale soon. For more information, please call 908-753-0190 or e-mail us.