Music Blog

The Official Blog of the Music Conservatory of Westchester

Veterans and Broadway Stars Perform to Raise Funds at Music Conservatory of Westchester Benefit

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Broadway stars joined with Conservatory stars at the stunning, successful 17th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic benefit event for the Music Conservatory of Westchester on June 25th. Pictured from left to right: Board President Joel Breitkopf, performer Kevin Chamberlin, emcee Christine Pedi, honoree Randy Graff, Executive Director Jean Newton, honoree Roger Bart, and performer Christopher Sieber.

Dreams do come true! The Music Conservatory of Westchester raised more than $313,000 in gross proceeds from the White Plains nonprofit’s 17th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic at the Brae Burn Country Club! Monday, June 25 was a beautiful day for golf and tennis, and an incredible evening to honor Tony Award winners Roger Bart and Randy Graff, and celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the Conservatory’s Healing Our Heroes music therapy program for military veterans.

Conservatory Executive Director and Edgemont resident, Jean Newton said, “It was truly thrilling to see so many generous individuals, and Broadway stars, come out to support our mission of providing the extraordinary benefits of music to everyone in the community. Healing Our Heroes is just one example of how the power of music changes lives. These programs are the heart and soul of the Conservatory.”

 Healing Our Heroes veterans and music therapists rocked the ballroom at Brae Burn Country Club with incredible performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and original song “Pride of America.”

The dinner program began with a warm welcome by Executive Director Jean Newton and Board President, Joel Breitkopf of Scarsdale in the country club’s grand ballroom. During this address, all veterans, active duty soldiers, and veteran families were asked to stand as they were thanked for their service. Subsequently, the Healing Our Heroes veterans band was introduced for their soaring performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and an original song, “Pride of America.” Guests were moved by the veterans’ music and a standing ovation honored their performances.

Emcee and host of Sirius XM Radio’s On Broadway station Christine Pedi kept the evening moving seamlessly with hilarious and shockingly accurate-sounding celebrity voice impersonations. She introduced entertaining musical performances by Broadway stars Christopher Sieber and Kevin Chamberlin in the voices of Joan Rivers and Liza Minnelli, respectively. Chamberlin presented long-time friend Roger Bart with the Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award, followed by a dynamic duet of “Henchmen Are Forgotten” from the musical Triumph of Love.

Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award honoree Roger Bart entertained nearly 300 guests with a dynamic duet of “Henchmen Are Forgotten” from Triumph of Love with friend and Broadway favorite Kevin Chamberlin.

“It was a magical evening,” said Ms. Randy Graff, who was honored with the award for Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre at the benefit event.

At the end of the evening, Conservatory Dean of Students and Faculty, Dr. Douglas Bish introduced honoree Ms. Graff with a sincere speech about the power of music education, and his love of Broadway music. With a true finale, Ms. Graff performed a brilliant rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables, which ended the evening perfectly.

 Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award honoree Randy Graff ended the evening with to a standing ovation-worthy rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables.

Nearly 300 guests came together to support the Conservatory’s signature mission-based programs – Scholarships for financially deserving students, Music Therapy for children and adults with disabilities, and Healing Our Heroes.

Celebrating 5 Years of Healing Our Heroes and Honoring Tony Award Winners at 17th Annual Golf & Tennis Classic

Monday, May 14, 2018


For its 17th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic, the Music Conservatory of Westchester will honor both Broadway and our nation’s heroes who have served to protect our freedoms.

On June 25 at the Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase, NY, the not-for-profit White Plains, NY community music school will follow up last year’s record-breaking fundraiser with a Broadway benefit event also celebrating the 5th anniversary of its Healing Our Heroes music therapy program for military veterans. After a day of golf and tennis, Tony Award winners Roger Bart and Randy Graff will represent Broadway’s best as special honorees for each of their 30 years of extensive and impressive work in the performing arts. Clearly, the Music Conservatory of Westchester knows how to organize a “Classic” event worthy of a standing ovation.

Conservatory Board President, founder of the Healing Our Heroes program, and Scarsdale resident Joel Breitkopf said, “We provide scholarships for youth and for military veterans who live and thrive in our community.”

The Music Conservatory of Westchester established the Healing Our Heroes program in 2013 to provide music therapy and related music instruction for U.S. military veterans who are dealing with combat-related injuries both physical and emotional. Veterans in the Healing Our Heroes program receive two years of individual music therapy services at no cost to them with scholarship aid, as well as participation in two weekly drop-in group sessions and Music Sharing Events, enabling veterans to share their music and experiences of life after their service and how music has helped them in the process.

Former Board President and Armonk resident Rodd Berro saw an opportunity to share the amazing proven success of Healing Our Heroes with a wider audience in the form of a documentary film. The Conservatory partnered with Ming Media and its principals, El Sawyer and Jon Kaufman to create feature-length cinematic experience about the program. As Executive Producer of “Healing Our Heroes: The Documentary,” Mr. Berro will present teaser footage from the documentary film to guests at the benefit event. This year, a portion of the proceeds to the Healing Our Heroes program will be dedicated to the documentary project.

“It is especially meaningful to me,” Mr. Berro said of being able to showcase the powerful footage from this film, “that is very close to my heart.”

In addition to celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Healing Our Heroes program, the Conservatory’s 17th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic will honor some Broadway luminaries for their impressive accomplishments in the performing arts, another important cause for the community music school.

Roger Bart will be honored with the Distinguished Achievement in the Arts Award at the benefit event. He won the Tony award for his notable portrayal of Snoopy in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Also known for his performances in The Producers as Carmen Ghia, for which he earned Tony and Drama Desk nominations, and played that role in both the stage and film productions. In his successful career on Broadway, he originated the roles of Harlequin in Triumph of Love, Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein and Tony in Disaster!. He can currently be seen on Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, opposite fellow Tony Award winner Neil Patrick Harris, and on the new Epix series Graves, starring opposite Nick Nolte and Sela Ward.

Randy Graff, Tony and Drama Desk Award winner for her performance in City of Angels, will receive the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award from the Music Conservatory of Westchester. She received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for her role in A Class Act. Ms. Graff created the role of Fantine in Les Misérables with the original Broadway cast, a distinction of her extensive career. Her other Broadway credits include Fiddler On The Roof, Neil Simon’s Laughter On The 23rd Floor, Moon Over Buffalo with Carol Burnett, Falsettos, High Society, and Grease. She has performed roles at Lincoln Center Theatre and in the renowned Sondheim Festival at The Kennedy Center. Currently on the Musical Theatre faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, she teaches vocal performance to the next generation of Broadway stars.

Unforgettable cabaret performances from three-time Tony Award nominee Kevin Chamberlin and two-time Tony Award nominee Christopher Sieber will entertain guests throughout the evening award ceremony and dinner. Host of Sirius XM Radio’s On Broadway channel, Christine Pedi, will emcee the event.

At the Annual Golf and Tennis Classic, guests will be serenaded not only by Tony Award-celebrated artists but also by special musical performances from veteran participants in the Healing Our Heroes program.

“Our event is truly a win-win for our guests,” Conservatory Executive Director Jean Newton said of this year’s benefit. “They get a day of golf or tennis at a gorgeous club and a fabulous star-studded dinner, all to support a great cause.”

Mr. Breitkopf added, “It is an honor to support the Music Conservatory of Westchester as it touches the lives of thousands of folks in Westchester County every year.”

Proceeds from the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s 17th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic will support its Healing Our Heroes music therapy program benefiting military veterans with combat-related injuries, as well as the school’s Music Therapy Program improving the lives of children and adults with disabilities, and Scholarship Program providing students from financially-deserving families with access to quality music training. To purchase tickets, visit

Ani Kavafian Performs at the Conservatory

Friday, October 20, 2017

Internationally renowned violinist Ani Kavafian will be the featured artist in An Autumn Afternoon of Music, a benefit concert at the Conservatory on Sunday, November 12, 2017. String players from the Yale School of Music will join Ms. Kavafian in performingworks by Mozart, Beethoven, and Kreisler, as well as two works by composer and Conservatory board member Mary Lynn Marx Bianco, an alumna of the Conservatory.

Ms. Kavafian, whose son attended the Conservatory, is Full Professor of Violin at Yale University. A member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1972, she continues to tour with them in North America, Europe and Asia.

The 3pm concert in the Conservatory’s Helen Demetrios and Michael Stadther Recital Hall will be followed by a reception with the artists. Proceeds from the benefit will support the Conservatory’s Scholarship, Music Therapy, and Healing Our Heroes programs. Ms. Kavafian’s special performance will celebrate great music while helping to raise funds for deserving

For more information, contact Aishling Quinn, Development Manager, at To purchase tickets, visit

Music Conservatory Reaches New Heights With Annual Golf & Tennis Classic

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Laurence Keiser, Board Vice President, of West Harrison accepting the “Distinguished Leadership Award” at the 16th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic benefiting the programs at the Music Conservatory of Westchester.

Event Shatters Record; Nets $245,000 to Benefit Its Signature Programs

Records are meant to be broken. Last week, the Music Conservatory of Westchester reached an all-time high with $245,000 raised in net proceeds at its 16th Annual Golf & Tennis Classic, shattering last year’s record ($127,000) by nearly double – and that number will expand as donations continue to come in.  The not-for-profit organization held the 16th incarnation of their premier fundraising event once again at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase.

The June 26 event began with a round of golf and tennis followed by a celebratory awards dinner. This year's entertainment was emceed by Tony Award nominee Constantine Maroulis and featured performances by fellow Tony nominees Robert Cuccioli and Mary Bridget Davies. Awards were presented to longtime Conservatory trustee and well-known attorney Laurence Keiser, entertainers and charitable couple Chazz and Gianna Palminteri, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love.

"This was the most successful event the Conservatory has had in the 22 years I’ve been here,” Executive Director Jean Newton said. “From start to finish, it was a triumph, and everyone had a great time!”  She noted that it was the first time in its history that the Golf & Tennis Classic "sold out." There were 120 golf players on the greens that day, and a 300-seat capacity ballroom filled for the entertainment that followed.

Cheryl and Joel Breitkopf, Board President of the Music Conservatory of Westchester, of Scarsdale take in the beautiful day at the Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase, NY.

Newton said many factors contributed to this year's success. First and foremost, the dedicated board of trustees helped ensure success. "They invited all their friends and colleagues to share in the festivities.” she said. “They truly love this organization and want to spread the word to everyone they know."

The executive director, who resides in Edgemont, also noted that her staff worked "around the clock" to make sure every detail was taken care of and that everything would proceed without a hitch. "This event was seamless. I'm so grateful to our staff," she said.

Lastly, Newton thanked everyone who came out to support the event, the "beautiful" club, and the show-stopping performers and honorees. The weather, she joked, also deserves some credit. "It was a gorgeous day," she said.

Keiser received the first award of the night for his Distinguished Leadership. Keiser, a partner at the White Plains-based law firm of Stern Keiser & Panken, LLP, is currently the board's vice president and has served since 2000. Last year’s honoree Rodd Berro, a longtime board member and past president, presented the award to Keiser. Berro's speech emphasized his colleague’s dedication and hard work, which he does with modesty and humility, for love of the institution – not for the recognition. Following a poignant speech by Keiser, his son Ross, a former vocal student at the Conservatory, paid tribute to his dad with a special performance.

Former student of the Music Conservatory of Westchester Ross Keiser of Armonk singing an aria in honor of his father, Laurence, who was honored at the 16th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic benefit.

Chazz and Gianna Palminteri received the Conservatory's Arts Achievement and Community Leadership Award for their extensive charitable work, their arts advocacy, and of course, their film credits.  Chazz Palminteri in particular has over 50 film credits including Bullets Over Broadway (Oscar nomination), The Usual Suspects, and A Bronx Tale, for which he was the writer and co-star. In her acceptance speech Gianna stressed the importance of the arts, while Chazz drew on a line from his signature Tale (and a phrase from his own father) - “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent,” pointing out that the Conservatory ensures that no talent is left unfulfilled.

Chazz Palminteri, Gianna Palminteri, Jon Chattman of Mamaroneck, and Jean Newton, Executive Director, of Scarsdale presenting the “Arts Achievement & Community Leadership Award” to the Palminteri’s.

Music icon Darlene Love rounded out the evening by receiving the Conservatory’s Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Board member Nancy Goodman of Larchmont. Conservatory voice student Alice Cabral of Hawthorne was named the first recipient of the Darlene Love Vocal Scholarship. After many thank yous and before bidding adieu, Love ended her speech the same way that she did during her acceptance speech at the 2014 Academy Awards (she represented the forgotten voices featured in the winning documentary film 20 Feet From Stardom):  “I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free,” she sang. As they did at the Dolby Theatre, the audience gave her a standing "O."

Darlene Love singing as she accepts her “Lifetime Achievement Award,” an honor bestowed by the Music Conservatory of Westchester.

The whole event deserves a standing ovation, according to Board President Joel Breitkopf.  “The board is so grateful that we were able to get record-breaking support from families and the business community that will contribute mightily to our scholarships,” he said. “Our children, seniors and veterans are going to benefit by the tremendous success of our best golf and tennis outing ever.”

Proceeds of the event will support three programs that are the heart and soul of the Conservatory: its Music Education Program for students of all ages, its Music Therapy Program for students with disabilities, and its Healing Our Heroes Program for Military veterans. The Conservatory awards sliding-scale scholarships for low income students and full scholarship for military veterans to participate in these programs. Founded in 1929, the Conservatory has provided the extraordinary benefits of music to everyone in the community for nearly 90 years.

Watch News12 coverage of this event HERE.

 Emcee for the annual fundraiser and Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis singing “Don’t Stop Believing” from the Broadway musical Rock of Ages.

 Music Conservatory of Westchester student and Darlene Love Vocal Scholarship recipient Alice Cabral of Hawthorne, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Darlene Love pose together at the Music Conservatory of Westchester’s 16th Annual Golf and Tennis Classic

Gianna Palminteri, Laurence Keiser, and Chazz Palminteri, all Westchester County residents and honorees of the evening stand together in support of the Music Conservatory of Westchester music scholarships.

Conservatory to Celebrate its Own Along with Stars at Golf & Tennis Classic

Monday, May 22, 2017

On June 26, the Music Conservatory of Westchester will hold a star-studded awards dinner following its 16th Annual Golf & Tennis Classic featuring Rock and Roll Hall of Fame icon Darlene Love and Academy Award-nominated actor Chazz Palminteri. Yet, it’s two members within the not-for-profit community music school’s community who arguably might be the biggest stars of the show.


Darlene Love


Gianna & Chazz Palminteri

Laurence Keiser, who joined the Conservatory’s board in 2000 and currently serves as its Vice President, will receive the White Plains’ organization’s Distinguished Leadership Award for his years of service. “He is incredibly generous in every way, supporting our mission, serving as Vice President, and connecting us to important community resources,” Jean Newton, the organization’s executive director, said.

“My philosophy may differ from that of some of my fellow board members, but we respect each other’s positions for the good of the Conservatory. I greatly respect the talents and dedication of those with whom I work,” Keiser said.


Laurence Keiser

And while he's “humbled” by receiving the honor, the White Plains resident stressed “I don’t do what I do for recognition. I do it out of love of music and this institution.”

Speaking of a love of music, Alice Cabral of Hawthorne will also have a big night on June 26. The 12-year-old voice student has shared her love of music with the Conservatory, and has honed her skills there since 2013. She will be the first recipient of the Darlene Love Vocal Scholarship that evening.

“Our Scholarship Program breaks down financial barriers, giving every student a chance to fulfill their musical dreams,” Newton said.  “Alice exemplifies this – she’s a dedicated, talented student and a wonderful young person.  We’re so proud of her.”


Alice Cabral

So is Alice’s mom Elsa Cabral.  “It is an honor and a privilege to receive this scholarship under the name of Darlene Love. Alice is a very capable girl, she is persistent and responsible. I always tell her that with hard work, she can make her dreams come true.”

She continued, “I extend my thanks to the Music Conservatory. Thank you very much for believing in her and giving her this great opportunity.”

Keiser and Cabral are part of a big evening for the Conservatory. Love will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for her career in the arts. Chazz and wife Gianna will receive the Arts Achievement and Community Leadership Award for their extensive film and theatre credits, charitable work, and arts advocacy.

Performances by Tony-celebrated artists will follow the awards ceremony.  Two-time Tony nominee Constantine Maroulis will emcee and perform along with Tony nominees Robert Cuccioli and Mary Bridget Davies. Tony winner Adriane Lenox will also perform.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the school’s Music Therapy Institute, which provides music programs for those with special needs, its Healing Our Heroes program which provides music therapy for returning military veterans, and its Scholarship program for low-income students.

To purchase tickets or sponsorships, visit For more information or to schedule an interview with any of the honorees or performers, please contact Jon Chattman at


Valhalla Fifth Grader Receives The James Ranti Trumpet Scholarship

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Trumpet teacher James Ranti was a fixture at the Music Conservatory of Westchester from September, 2002 until his passing this past December. At a memorial service held in January, many former students recounted the dedication and inspiration he gave to countless students over a lifetime of teaching. To celebrate this legacy, the Conservatory has named a scholarship in his honor.

Andrew Paucar, who began studying trumpet at the Conservatory in November, has been named the recipient of The James Ranti Trumpet Scholarship. The Valhalla fifth grader currently takes trumpet lessons with Conservatory faculty member David Hurd. He also takes Elementary Theory, and plays in the Latin Jazz band with his older brother Pablo, a saxophone student.  Andrew attends fifth grade at the Kensico Elementary School in Valhalla.  He is one of more than 80 dedicated students who receive need-based tuition assistance through the Conservatory’s Scholarship Program .  

Caption: (Left) Andrew Paucar stands under a picture of James Ranti (Right) James Ranti of Hartsdale was a fixture at the Conservatory for 15 years.  His wife Juliet Gopoian teaches piano at the organization.


Not Just For Kids! Conservatory Announces New Adult Scholarship Opportunities

Thursday, October 01, 2015


Hard Rock Café’s motto is “love all, serve all.” Perhaps, the Music Conservatory of Westchester could have the same catchphrase. Expanding on their long-standing “all ages” approach, the White Plains-based not-for-profit community music school recently announced a new adult scholarship program, which will allow tuition assistance to those learners who wanted to fulfill their dreams of playing music but are financially limited. The new scholarships, will be available for all instruments at the start of the Conservatory’s fall semester on Sept. 8, 2015. The scholarships are named after two long-time board members and adult students who initiated the program: Mary L. Bianco of California and Robert Heath of Armonk, NY Scholarships will be offered on a sliding scale of up to 25 percent of tuition to qualifying adult students age 18 to 90. The amount of each scholarship will be based upon individual financial circumstances.

“We want all individuals to learn and enjoy the pleasures of creating music,” said Bianco, an adult learner herself. “This scholarship is for adults who toyed with playing the guitar or piano or other musical instrument when they were a youngster and now want to come back to it or simply take a fresh look at the fun of playing. Come and indulge in your love of music!” On a personal note, Heath offered, “I took piano lessons from the age of six until I was 18. Although I continued my interest in music, I didn’t have time to practice the piano. Thirty years later, I was taking my son for lessons at the Conservatory and realized that I could start taking piano lessons again. I have taken lessons now for 24 years from some amazing teachers.” For more information on our Scholarship programs, visit, call 914 761-3900 or contact “Healing Our Heroes” Music Therapy for Veteran’s at the Music Conservatory of Westchester.

Friends of Danielle Organization Helps Student Receive Music Therapy

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Friends of Danielle, Ltd. is proud to partner with the Music Conservatory of Westchester for the third year in a row to support the Daneille Rinaldi Music Therapy Scholarship Fund in the amount of $2,500. The purpose of the program is to honor the spirit and legacy of Daneille Rinaldi by providing funds for individuals with disabilities and/or catastrophic illness, to receive the benefits of music therapy.  Danielle who valiantly fought Leukemia for seven years, surviving two bone marrow transplants died in 2008.  Matthew, who also survived two bone marrow transplants, is one of the recipients of this generous support.

(Pictured Left-to-Right) Daniel Chillemi from the Friends of Danielle visits with eight-year-old student Matthew Welling, and Dr. Tina Brescia, MT-BC, LCAT, director of Onsite Services at the Conservatory’s Music Therapy Institute.

Broadway Stars Help Conservatory Raise Over $110,000 at Annual Golf & Tennis Classic

Tuesday, July 08, 2014