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‘Porgy & Bess Concert,’ May 1

    On Sunday, May 1 at 4 p.m., please join us at the College of Staten Island Arts Center for “The Porgy & Bess Concert.” The concert will include performances by:

  • The Wagner College Choir and Sinfonietta, the Wagner College Chamber Singers and the Stretto vocal ensemble, all conducted by Roger Wesby
  • The College of Staten Island Chorus, conducted by Marina Alexander
  • The Salvatones, directed by Daniel Brondel
  • Featured soloists Celeste Headlee (soprano) and Anthony Turner (baritone)

    The first half of the program will include songs by pioneer black musical theater composer Will Marion Cook, William Grant Still, Hall Johnson, Duke Ellington and Kurt Weill.
    The second half will be comprised of a baker’s dozen of songs from “Porgy and Bess” as arranged by Gershwin’s friend, Robert Russell Bennett, including “Summertime,” “Bess, You is my Woman Now” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”
    Tickets to the concert are $15, students and seniors $10.
    For more information about the concert, contact Roger Wesby at 718-390-3205 or
    George Gershwin, one of the leading architects of “the American Sound,” always wanted to compose a “jazz opera.” At the height of his powers, he found what he considered suitable material: a play by a white southern gentleman, DuBose Heyward, and his wife, Dorothy, about Catfish Row, a black slum in Charleston, S.C.
    Arranged by Gershwin’s friend, Robert Russell Bennett, “The Porgy & Bess Concert” includes nearly all of the opera’s finest gems: “Summertime,” “A Woman is a Sometime Thing,” “Gone, Gone, Gone,” “My Man’s Gone Now,” “Promised Land,” “I Got Plenty of Nothin’,” “Bess, You is My Woman Now,” “Oh, I Can’t Sit Down!,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “There’s a Boat that’s Leavin’ Soon for New York City” and “Oh Lawd, I’m on My Way.”
    Featured soloist CELESTE HEADLEE is better known to public radio listeners as the co-host of the Public Radio International morning show, “The Takeaway.” She is an operatically trained soprano and the granddaughter of William Grant Still, considered to be the “dean of African-American composers.”
    Soloist ANTHONY TURNER, a distinguished baritone, performs internationally in genres ranging from opera to musical comedy and is an acknowledged master interpreter of spirituals.
    Headlee and Turner will be joined by the Wagner College Choir, the Choir of the College of Staten Island, and the Wagner Sinfonietta, a 32-piece symphony orchestra including members of the New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra and other professionals from the metropolitan orchestra.

    STRETTO is an elite vocal ensemble that cultivates close harmony, jazz, and gospel music. Founded in 1999 by Roger Wesby, the ensemble consists of current students and alumni of Wagner College. Stretto has performed at the National Arts Club in Grammercy Park, at the Symphony Space for the Wall-to-Wall Joni Mitchell Tribute, and for the 25th annual Commemoration of the Life and Music of Alex Wilder. The ensemble has toured annually with Wagner’s College Choir and regularly anchors events like the Vocal Jazz Set and the annual Tribute to Black Music at Wagner College.

    THE SALVATONES is a professional vocal ensemble that premiered in October 2010. Under the leadership of music director Daniel Brondel and CEO Salvatore Diana, the ensemble has already made many appearances in venues as diverse as the Paul Creston Award Celebration, the vocal recital of member Dorian Lake, a corporate event on behalf of DraftFCB, the VIP reception of the I’m Too Young For this Stupid Cancer OMG! Pre-Summit Reception, and in a fundraiser for the St. John’s-in-the-Village Music Fund.

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