Former CSI Professor Brings World-Class Concerts to the Center for the Arts

The College of Staten Island will host four free classical music concerts this year featuring musicians from world-renowned ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

The concerts continue the series of performances made possible by the generosity of former English professor Michael Shugrue and the Shugrue Cultural Development Fund, which he developed four years ago to bring musicians, artists, and lecturers of the highest quality to the CSI campus.

The first of the four concerts will feature the Canaan Ensemble, comprised of principal members of the Metropolitan Opera and the American Ballet Theatre orchestras, on Monday, February 11 at 7:30pm in the Center for the Arts. Making its second appearance at CSI, the ensemble will perform Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet.

On Monday, March 10, Shugrue will sponsor a musical performance in honor of former CSI President, the late Edmond Volpe. Shugrue notes that all of the details of the program have yet to be finalized, but he anticipates a trio performance including works from Brahms and Beethoven, along with brief comments from Dr. Theodore Gross, Chancellor of Roosevelt University.

The next concert, scheduled for Thursday, April 10 at 7:30pm in the Center for the Arts, will feature Spectrum, a Berlin-based chamber music group. They will perform works by modern composer Ernst Toch, as well as Paul Hindemith and Robert Schumann. Shugrue states that Toch’s grandson will most likely be on hand to offer some brief comments before the performance.

The fourth and final concert of the year is still in the planning stages, but Shugrue hopes to welcome members of the Philharmonic who have just passed tenure. Shugrue notes, “They’re 25 to 26 years old, world-class musicians, and I think that they’d mix very well with our students,” adding that attendees will have an opportunity to meet the performers after the concert.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Performances

Shugrue highlights two main reasons for presenting these concerts at CSI: to bring outstanding musical performances to the College and to give back. Regarding the former, Shugrue says, “in a public institution, there are not always funds to do the cultural enrichment things that one would like to do. You’ve got to worry about class size, keeping sections open, hiring adjuncts, so I thought that I would step in and establish this fund and provide some leadership to bring the very best musicians in the world, from the Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera, out to the College.” The students are a primary focus in this case. “Our students go to the clubs on Staten Island and Brooklyn, but they don’t very much go up to Lincoln Center. One of my goals was to introduce them to the world of serious music.” He adds that CSI’s “Music Department is increasingly good, thanks to Sylvia Kahan, and it’s been a strong, supportive force in my efforts to bring the very best to the College.”

In addition, Shugrue, pointing to the contributions that other former faculty members, such as Gordon DiPaolo, Joan Hartman, and Jo Gillikin, have made to CSI, stresses that he would “like to see [the College] stimulate more people to want to give something back because most of us have been treated very well by The City University.”

As he continues to fund these concerts, as well as scholarships for CSI students, Shugrue stresses that he would like the upcoming concerts to serve as touchstones for former CSI faculty and staff to reunite, and meet the College’s new President Dr. Tomás Morales. However, he says that everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend these once-in-a-lifetime events.

Although admission to the concerts is free, anyone who is interested in attending the concerts must RSVP by calling the CSI Office for Institutional Advancement at 718.982.2365.

CSI will host free classical music concerts this year, made possible by the generosity of Michael Shugrue.

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