8/3: Met Opera's Monica Yunus at Usdan Gala


The young Metropolitan Opera soprano Monica Yunus, who will be featured in the Met production of Rossini's Le Comte D'Ory next season, will be the soprano soloist in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana at the 2011 ...

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The young Metropolitan Opera soprano Monica Yunus, who will be featured in the Met production of Rossini's Le Comte D'Ory next season, will be the soprano soloist in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana at the 2011 Usdan Center Gala Concert on Long Island on Wednesday August 3. The 2011 Gala Concert will also feature the World Premiere of a Usdan-commissioned work, It Take Two to Samba, by jazz composer Richard DeRosa, whose arrangements have been performed by Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Gerry Mulligan, Glenn Miller Big Bands and singer Susannah McCorkle. His original works have been played by orchestras throughout the United States and Europe. Another highlight of the Gala will be a performance of Carl Orff's cantata Carmina Burana, featuring Usdan's senior orchestra, chorus, and ballet, with Adam Glaser conducting.

Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, the renowned summer arts day camp once again cited by TimeOutNY as a "Best Camp" for 2011, and whose alumni include Natalie Portman and Mariah Carey, will present its annual Gala Concert on Wednesday August 3 at 7:00 PM at its campus center, the 1,000-seat McKinley Amphitheater. Tickets for the concert cost $25, and they can be obtained by writing to gala@usdan.com, calling (631) 643-7900, or by visiting www.usdan.com. In addition to the concert-only tickets, there are also special Patron packages available. These include on-site priority parking, a 5:00 PM pre-concert dinner, and priority seating at the Gala Concert. For information, write to gala@usdan.com, or contact Patrice Frank at (631) 643-7900.

Monica Yunus, praised by the New York Times for her "vibrant soprano," was a featured artist in last summer's Metropolitan Opera Concerts in the Parks. She has also sung Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Papagena in The Magic Flute at the Met, with Placido Domingo in concert, in operas by Haydn and Gluck at The Spoleto Festival, with regional opera companies and in recital throughout the United States. In 2010 she presented a recital on the Festival Concerts series of educational performances at Usdan Center. Miss Yunus is also a founder and director of Sing for Hope, the charitable organization in which MetOpera artists perform in high needs schools, hospitals, and community centers; it currently has stationed pianos in New York City parks for two weeks, making them available to all who pass by, for the two-democratizing the arts and encouraging exploration of music by all individuals and featuring formal and impromptu concerts by amateurs and artists alike.

Usdan Center's Gala Concert is the highlight of its 44th summer season, during which 1,600 children, ages 8-18, many on scholarship, will study the arts with the Center's faculty of world-class artist-teachers. Students travel to the Center each day from New York City and throughout the Tri-State Area. The Center is situated on a 200-acre woodland campus at 185 Colonial Springs Road, Wheatley Heights (Huntington), Long Island.

The commissioned jazz work is part of a new two-year grant for audience building in jazz, one recently awarded to the Usdan Center by the Rauch Foundation's Founders' Memorial Program. The program, titled Sustaining American Jazz: Inspiring Young Artists and Audiences, is intended to encourage interest in listening and performance by young people. The program will provide scholarships each year to promising high school students for summer jazz study at the Center; commissions for new works by leading jazz composers; collaborations with Long Island high school jazz ensembles for additional performances of the new pieces; and concerts and master classes at the Usdan Center by prominent artists. Past performances and master class teachers have included Jimmy Heath, Arturo O'Farrill, John Faddis, and Marian McPartland. The 2012 commissioned piece will be composed by Ted Rosenthal, whose works have been performed by Ron Carter and other major artists, and who has been called "A new jazz leader" by the New York Times.

Adam Glaser, who has been in residence at the Salzburg Festival and led performances by such diverse groups at the Curtis Opera Theatre and the Oregon Bach Festival, is also a composer whose works have been played by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony and many other major ensembles. In addition, he is the conductor of the Juilliard Pre-College Orchestra, a professional-caliber youth orchestra that regularly performs at Lincoln Center.

Carl Orff (1895-1982) was not only a composer, but a pioneering music educator, whose methods of teaching young children are still in use, at Usdan Center and other educational institutions. 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the Orff Institute in Austria, which promotes both his music and teaching methods.

Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, whose alumni include jazz singer Jane Monheit, Natalie Portman and Mariah Carey, has introduced the arts to more than 50,000 Tri-State Area children since its founding in 1968. The Center is open to all young people from age 6 to 18. Usdan's program features more than 40 seven-week programs in music, dance, theater, visual arts, writing, nature & ecology, and chess. No audition is needed for most programs - rather, admission is based on an expression of interest in the arts. Each summer, 1,600 students are transported to the Center in air-conditioned buses each day. One-third of Usdan's students attend on scholarship. Although the mission of the Center is for every child to establish a relationship with the arts, the unique stimulation of the Center has caused many to go on to arts careers. Alumni include members of Broadway shows and major music, theater, and dance ensembles such as the Boston Pops and the New York City Ballet.

In addition to its regular programs, Usdan offers special opportunities for advanced high school- age performing and visual artists. These include Music Staff Internships, a Summer Ballet Intensive, and a program of immersion in the visual arts and college preparation for selected high school art students. It is called Usdan's Visual Arts Portfolio Preparation Track. Usdan Center is an agency of the UJA-Federation of New York.

For more information on Usdan Center, write to info@usdan.com, Call (212) 772-6060 or (631) 643-7900, or visit www.usdan.com.