Wheatley Heights, NY - June 29, 2015 - Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, the renowned Long Island summer arts day camp whose 48th season kicked off today, features award-winning and fast-rising professional artists of music, dance and theater on its unique Festival Concerts series. The daily performances give its 1600 students ages 5-18 major exposure to the best of the arts. These private performances are special educational experiences running through the first weeks of the season. After that, student classes take over, and every day features a different music, dance or theatre student ensemble in Usdan's 1,000-seat McKinley Ampitheater.
The 2015 series opened today, June 29 with the Donald Sinta Quartet, a rising young brass ensemble, already acclaimed by fellow artists and critics: "Nothing pleases me more than to write and sing their praises" composer William Bolcom, who also created a concerto for them. The succeeding days will feature the Limon Dance Company (June 30), praised by critics for their "Indescribable magic" and "Extraordinary theatricality"; Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist/Usdan alumna Jane Monheit (July 1), whose just-released album Hello Bluebird with David Benoit has already started earning raves, such as "Monheit shines throughout (Evening Standard, London) "; The Knights (July 2), an innovative young chamber ensemble, praised for its "Expressiveness and exuberance (New York Times)" and as "The highest level of musicianship (Washington Post)"; The Chameleons mime theater, which has appeared throughout the world and garnered many awards for educational excellence (July 6); "Voices of Broadway," a musical revue featuring members of current Broadway casts (July 7) --- Alysha Umpress, currently co-starring as Hildy in On the Town, Cody Williams, featured in the same show, Bernard Dotson, whose credits include Chicago, Finian¹s Rainbow and Ragtime, and Nathan Lee Graham, most recently in Priscilla, and also on film in Zoolander and Zoolander 2; Edward Arron (³One of New York¹s most exciting young cellists³ New Yorker) and pianist Jeewon Park, of ³Full tone and fluid line New York Times³; pieces by the winners of the Young Choreographers Competition (created by Usdan Dance Chair Maurice Brandon Curry, Broadway choreographer and former Director of the Joffrey Ballet School) on July 9; Ghenghis Barbie (July 13), the edgy all-female horn ensemble noted for its "Aplomb and vitality" by the New York Times; jazz musician Camille Thurman, a winner of this year¹s Lincoln Center Martin E. Segal Award, and her Quartet (July 14); the Metropolitan Opera¹s "Rich and sensuous voiced" - Anthony Tommasini, New York Times) soprano Monica Yunus, on July 15; and Blair McMillen, a young pianist about whom Tommasini already said "When played by the formidable McMillen, any piece sounds terrific (July 16)". There will also be one more artist on July 20, TBA.
Usdan Center offers more than 40 programs in music, dance, theater, visual arts, creative writing, nature and ecology and chess, annually hosting more than 1,600 students from towns throughout the Tri-State New York area. No audition is needed for most courses, and transportation is provided in air- conditioned buses that depart from most New York-area neighborhoods. One- third of Usdan¹s students receive scholarship assistance based on family need. Video from many of Usdan¹s programs and special events, may now be viewed on the Center's website as well as on YouTube. Also, families can check out Usdan¹s Facebook site, where additional information and late-breaking news is featured. One recent special event has been free art exhibits at the lobby gallery of 430 Park Avenue and at the UJA on East 59th Street in Manhattan, showcasing the work of almost two dozen Usdan students.