By Stephen E. Lipken
The Tenth Annual ArtsFest organized by the New Rochelle Council on the Arts, (NRCA) encompassing New Rochelle and Pelham was held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 4th, 5th and 6th, beginning with the dedication of a mural on 134 North Avenue from French-born artist and Miami resident Loic Ercolessi by Mayor Noam Bramson.
Sponsors included A.J.’s Burgers; Alvin and Friends; ArtsWestchester; [Charles] Fazzino; Gwendolen Appleyard; Radisson Hotel; R Tea Boutique; Thornton-Donovan School and Watermark Pointe, made possible in part by ArtsWestchester with funds from Westchester County Government, City of New Rochelle; Industrial Development Agency (IDA) plus support and participation of NRCA membership.
“New Rochelle is thrilled to work with Street Art for Mankind to further enliven our downtown streetscape,” Bramson stated. “The mural at 134 North Avenue will be the first of several that bring beauty and creative energy to previously blank spaces, as part of our comprehensive commitment to a culturally vibrant city center.”
Street Art for Mankind is a nonprofit organization which strongly believes in the ability of art to trigger social change, raising funds to fight against child trafficking through street art exhibitions, live performances and murals around the world to support raid and rescue programs.
On Saturday, October 5th, “A Celebration of New Rochelle Music,” the brainchild of St. John’s Rector, the Reverend Jennie Talley was presented at St. John’s Wilmot Episcopal Church, New Rochelle, showcasing composers and performers having direct ties to the City.
Performed by the Vocal Ensemble Laboratory, the concert included pieces by New Rochelle residents Alan Menken; “For All We Know,” written by J. Fred Coots, better known for “Santa Claus is Coming to Town;” “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” by Robert Allen; Frank Pisani; Trinity St. Paul’s New Rochelle Composer in Residence Robert Puleo; David Jutt, Music Director, St. John’s Wilmot Episcopal Church; “Kpanlongo,” traditional African folk songs arranged by Derek Bermel and “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” by Billy Davis.
“Music is a beautiful way to bring people together. It’s an act of love and builds bridges and strong bonds. St. John’s welcomes people from all walks of life and presenting a concert seems like a natural extension of why we come together here…,” Talley observed.
The Pelham Art Center celebrated Diwali on Sunday, October 6th, a four to five day-long festival of lights, observed by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists every autumn with Madhusmita Bora and Prerona Bhuyan performing the 500-year-old Sattriya dance tradition from the Hindu monasteries of Assam in Northeast India.
Practiced by celibate monks, the dance remained confined to monastic rituals until the 1960’s. In 2000 the Indian government inducted Sattriya into the pantheon of classical dances. Bhuyan showed hand depictions of a cow and elephant, while Bora mentioned the Ten Incarnations of Vishnu/Krishna.