Celebrity NewsCover StoryEventsMusic

Career Bridges Opera Gala: Vibrations on the Air By Lorraine Silvetz

New York’s glitterati and legendary figures in opera and Broadway assembled in force to celebrate the next generation of opera stars, recipients of awards, for the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges at the beautiful and renowned, Metropolitan Club. It was a night of great elegance, beauty and music marking the 20th anniversary Opera Gala. The Black Tie attired crowd entered the majestic Metropolitan Club and slipped into its palatial marble interior where drinks and hors d’oeuvres were flowing for all to enjoy.

The foundation has been performing a vital service for 20 years now. Career Bridges was founded by David Schuyler Bender and Barbara Meister Bender with the mission of providing vital assistance to young opera singers as they transition from training to stage. Attendees receive three years of mentoring, financial support and performance opportunities based on the recommendations of 20-25 member Panel of Experts, comprised of internationally recognized experts in repertory and vocal coaching, conductors, stage directors, artist managers/agents, opera company impresarios, et al. A combination of expert selection and this assistance has had a remarkable rate of success. Every year, barring the pandemic, Career Bridges spearheads a competition where they award career grants to young artists. Those winners have the opportunity to perform and receive expert critique from a panel of professionals in the business, directors, voice teachers, performers, etc. The singers are then granted a conference with David and Barbara where the critiques are discussed and further helpful suggestions are given. The grant winners have the opportunity to return for 3 more years to “check in” to see if the hard work they have done has been realized for the panel. What incredible mentorship for these fortunate young singers.

This year’s award winners include Wonjin Choi, a Korean tenor, Michelle Geffner, a soprano and graduate of Julliard, Trevor Haumschilt-Rocha, a Mexican-American baritone, Scott Ruben La Marca, tenor, Shu Li, soprano, Lindsey Polcyn, mezzo-soprano, Esther Tonea, a Romanian-American soprano, and Vichen Xue, a baritone. They were all outstanding.

The sumptuous food and drinks poured through the gorgeous marble room as the many attendees milled about to view the extensive auction items, meeting one another, in some cases, for the first time.

When it was time for the dinner and performance to begin the guests moved to the breathtaking dining room. The Benders, a beautiful and talented couple, opening remarks set the tone for the elegant evening. The Gala was hosted by President of the Rodgers and Hammerstein organization, Theodore S. Chapin who led many Broadway productions including over 20 award-winning Broadway and London revivals. He was also the co-founder of City Center’s “Encores.”

There were several honorees including Jason Kwintner, who received the Distinguished Achievement Award for coordinating their events first at the Essex House and then at the Metropolitan Club for the last 18 years. He adds a spirit of warmth, dedication and commitment bringing each event to life.

Another Distinguished Achievement Award was given to Jane Bergere, an Olivier and multi-Tony Award winning producer. Prior to producing on and off Broadway, Jane was the Artistic Director of Connecticut’s Broadway Theater in Darien, CT, where she produced over 50 musicals. She was recognized by the New York Times for having brought Broadway to Connecticut and launching the careers of many actors, directors, choreographers, and other industry professionals working on Broadway. She is currently represented on Broadway with “Water for Elephants.” Past productions include Metamorphosis, The Shark is Broken, Funny Girl, Beetlejuice, Kinky Boots, Angels in America and War Horse to name a few.

The Lifetime Humanitarian Award was given to Dr. Joan Taub Ades who is a prominent member of premiere philanthropic circles in New York and throughout the country. Mrs. Ades, along with her late husband, Alan M. Ades, made significant contributions to the arts and education that have touched the lives of countless people. She and her husband created and funded the Alan M and Joan Taub Ades Performance Space at Manhattan School of Music, a versatile performance and event space that is outfitted for music, theater, dance, and multimedia events. The Ades Family Foundation established and continues to fund MSM’s prestigious Alan M. and Joan Taub Ades Vocal Competition, an annual event that is judged by an esteemed panel of opera professionals and awards significant cash prizes to winning students. She is the creator of Joan’s Closet which is a program exclusive to MSM’s female students which provides them with clothing for auditions and recitals at no charge.

Composer Randy Edelman received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his extraordinary contribution to music. He was introduced by Tribeca Record owner John “Soho Johnny” Pasquale. Edelman is one of Tribeca’s signed artists. Randy is prolific having composed over 100 film and TV soundtracks including: My Cousin Vinny, Billy Madison, While You Were Sleeping, Dragonheart, Gettysburg, Shanghai Noon, Ghostbusters II, The Mask, Twins, Beethoven, The Bruce Lee Story, and the Last of the Mohicans which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. He created the music forDare Mighty Things” for NASA, the series MacGyver, among so many more. His pop songs have been covered by renowned artists including Barry Manilow, Patti LaBelle, Olivia Newton-John, Nelly, Dionne Warwick among many others. The multi-award winning serialist has received some of the most prestigious awards including BMI’s highest honor, the Richard Kirk Award for Outstanding Achievement Award, an Emmy for the close of the NBC Olympic Broadcast, and an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Cincinnati.

Before receiving his award, Randy performed his famous song, “A Weekend in New England” recorded by Barry Manilow. The audience was visibly moved recognizing the famous song. After receiving his award he did an encore performing the last song Bing Crosby performed before his death, “The Woman On My Arm.”

For the finale, the entire ensemble joined in the highly appropriate “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha. For many a career in Opera might seem an impossible dream but Career Bridges co-Artistic Directors, Barbara and David Bender and their team make the dream all the more possible.

In the words of Ludwig van Beethoven: The vibrations on the air are the breath of God speaking to man’s soul. Music is the language of God. We musicians are as close to God as man can be. We hear his voice, we read his lips, we give birth to the children of God, who sing his praises.

Photo credit: Max Flores #maxfloress_official

#careerbridges #therealrandyedelman #eileenshapiro #lorrainesilvetzofficial #cheriecorso #abeshainberg512 #akers8557 #flogplu #lizapj24 #davidschuylerbender #errolrappaport #quinnlemley #guiseppeatelier #marcia_minassian #jenniferdevinnyc #cory.w.orosz #yvette.b.wenger #janepontarelli #cheriecorsoart #davidsexta #maxfloress_official #hunoel917 #sarieny1 #sharonmarantzwalsh #wondersoftini #toni.delerive #ellen.ageofnewbeginnings #sohojohnny #nicoleleighmorris #luisadiaztv #judeelie_ #janethorngren3979 #avadoramimouni #globalstressinitiative