CSI Center for the Arts Presents "Two Accordions with Attitude"

The Center for the Arts at the COllege of Staten Island present “Two Accordions with Attitude,” featuring Guy Klucevsek and Alan Bern, on Saturday, February 23, 2008 at 8:00pm. Tickets are $20.

The music is stunning. It’s like no accordion music you’ve ever heard before.
Guy Klucevsek and Alan Bern are musical virtuosos, creating masterpieces of sound, from the traditional to the eclectic and cutting-edge fantastic, on an oft-maligned apparatus.
It’s not your grandmother’s accordion music anymore.

Klucevsek and Bern deliver a unique and incredible concert. Onstage they create a worldwide tour-of-the-senses with their soul-stirring gypsy melodies, riotous klezmers, and exotic arabesque airs. Combined with their interpretive jazz, deep blues, and innovative new world sounds, they move around the continents and through time, playing songs with ancient melodies as well as startlingly fresh 21st-century compositions. Stephen Eddis from Allmusicguide.com says, “The number of classical accordion virtuosos is small, but Guy Klucevsek and Alan Bern are among its brightest lights.”

Klucevsek and Bern first played together in the 1998 project, Accordion Tribe II: Four Accordions of the Apocalypse, which also included Pauline Oliveros and Amy Denio. The duo debuted at The Kitchen (New York City) in 1999, and has since performed throughout Europe, including a performance at the Vienna International Accordion Festival.

Their CFA program will represent a rare U.S. appearance, and will feature music from their two recordings, Notefalls (2007) and Accordance (2001), both on the highly regarded independent label, Winter & Winter (Munich). Othermusic.com says of Accordance, “These two are at the absolute height of their profession. I can think of none more proficient, skillful, diverse, and adept in the small accordion-playing world And when they both get boiling, it’s hard to tell exactly how many accordions are in the room.” Their newest release, Notefalls, was called “absolutely beautiful and soul-stirring,” by the CMJ New Music Report. The Chicago Reader said, “Klucevsek and Bern are stylistic polyglots, freely drawing upon all kinds of sources while maintaining gorgeous, meditative melodies, and stunning harmonic interplay.” Notefalls is the second CD that these master musicians have recorded together, and they play with one voice in harmonic stereo. Together, they sweep you up and carry you on hard currents of sound.

Both have strong classical credentials. Both composers’ music is fearlessly eclectic, incorporating and transcending standard conventions such as marches, tangos, and blues. Both play keyboards as well as the accordion.

Guy Klucevsek, a Staten Island resident for 20 years now, is a composer who’s created a unique repertoire for the accordion through his own work and by commissioning over 50 works from noted composers. He’s worked with groups and individuals as diverse as John Zorn, the Kronos Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Relâche, Pauline Oliveros, and Jubilant Sykes. In 1987, he instigated a project called Polka from the Fringe, for which he invited 30 composers to contribute. The band version was presented on the 1988 Next Wave Festival at BAM, and was recorded in two volumes, which were named Best Recordings of 1992 by John Schaefer of New Sounds, WNYC-FM. In all, Klucevsek has released 19 recordings as soloist/leader. Transylvanian Softwear was cited as a 1995 recording of special merit in Stereo Review. He’s also performed on John Williams’s scores for the Steven Spielberg films The Terminal and Munich, as well as the Broadway productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Victor/Victoria, and Piaf.

Musician, ethnomusicologist, composer, pianist, accordionist, and musical director, Alan Bern is the leader of the outstanding klezmer ensemble Brave Old World. The group’s most recent CD, Song of the Lodz Ghetto, on the Winter & Winter label, was named Best Classical CD of 2005 by Newsday and one of the Ten Best Classical/World CDs by Billboard magazine. Since 1987 Mr. Bern has been based in Berlin, Germany, where he composes and directs music for theater, dance, and film projects. From 1994 to 1997 he was musical director of the Bremen Municipal Theater. Mr. Bern’s recent projects include the world premiere of the Yiddish production, The Threepenny Opera (Saidye Bronfman Theatre, Montreal) a Mary Flagler Cary Trust commission for the Eliza Miller Dance Company, a commission for Brave Old World, and I Musici de Montréal. Mr. Bern holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy from Tufts University and a DMA in Music Composition from Cincinnati Conservatory.

For more information, visit: (guyklucevsek.com).
Music samples can be found at: (myspace.com/guyklucevsekaccordion).

The CSI Center for the Arts 2007-2008 season is supported in part with funds from the Richmond County Savings Foundation; a gift by the Carnegie Corporation (made possible by an anonymous donor); the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the Office of the Borough President, Hon. James P. Molinaro; the Staten Island Rotary Foundation; the College of Staten Island; and by our many business and individual patrons.

Directions to the Center for the Arts:
By Car: The Center for the Arts is located within a few minutes’ drive from the Verrazano, Goethals, and Bayonne bridges. Take I-278 (the Staten Island Expressway and exit at Victory Boulevard, proceed to campus parking lots 1 and 2). Parking is free.

By Mass Transit: The Center for the Arts is served by the S62, S61, S93, and S53 buses, which are coordinated with the Staten Island Ferry schedule.

CSI's Center for the Arts to host "Staten Island: Alive in Wonderland"

The Center for the Arts at the College of Staten Island will host Staten Island: Alive in Wonderland: A Love Letter to New York City’s Forgotten Borough with Sara Valentine on Saturday, February 9, 2008 at 8:00pm. The Richmond County Midway in the CFA Atrium opens at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20.

Staten Island: Alive in Wonderland is the latest installment of Sara Valentine’s live theatrical talk show, Little Miss Big Mouth. This one night only, special event is a wild and wacky love-fest about Valentine’s adopted hometown of Staten Island, New York. Celebrating the borough’s unique and distinctive culture, geography, lifestyle, and people, the show features guests from all aspects of Staten Island life. Whether artists, cabbies, musicians, shopkeepers, or community personalities, Sara Valentine is an equal opportunity interviewer! Produced in a television variety-entertainment format (think ’70s television classics such as Donny & Marie or The Carol Burnett Show), mixed with a hefty influence of late-night talk shows, anything goes during this evening of largely unscripted live theater.

Valentine (freelance curator, performing artist, and producer) and husband Kris Anton (technical direction and visual projections) inject other dimensions into the performance: animation, their own house band punctuating the action, interpretive dance, and who knows what else, as anything seems possible in this theatrical circus with the vitality and variety of a retro comedy burlesque.

You’d hardly guess, with all the action onstage, that some serious topics are being raised. How has the Island changed from its agrarian past to its suburban present, and what might possibly be its future incarnations? What is Staten Island’s role in the City of New York? How do Staten Islanders define themselves in the midst of all this change? The show’s sincere inquiry takes place against a background of genuine celebration for the Island’s natural wonders, its unique history, its artistic and cultural life, its communities, and the day-to-day simplicities of Island living—in short, the characteristics that make Staten Island a wonderful and altogether unique alternative to the rest of New York City.

Richmond County Midway:

This incomparable theatrical event, (for it’s so much more than a show), begins the moment that the audience arrives at the Center for the Arts and enters the “Richmond County Midway” in the CFA’s imposing Atrium. Booths will house attractions and information on various Island establishments and groups and create a carnival atmosphere that is so apropos for an evening with Little Miss Big Mouth. The Day de Dada performance group will greet the audience in the CFA Atrium, distributing stickers, pom-poms, kazoos, and heaven knows what other cheering apparatus, to prime the audience with some rousing cheers—campy improv at its live-best! Everything Goes Café, the eclectic bookstore/performance space and Internet café will be there, as will photographer Irma Borghese-Geisler. Mandolin Brothers, the center of the acoustic universe as one of the world’s largest merchants of American fretted instruments, will also join the party.

Featured Guests:
The show will feature a multitude of Island guests such as painter Jenny Tango, with her wry sense of humor and keen perception both on and off the canvas; SI native Maureen Seaberg, journalist and author known for many years to Staten Island Advance readers for her immigration column. Deputy Borough President Ed Burke, who was instrumental in the publication of Staten Island Attractions: Big Apple Pleasures, Small Town Treasures, a cultural publication to help promote tourism for Staten Island; and Vernon Reid, guitarist, frontman, Grammy-nominated producer, and member of the multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning rock group, Living Colour will be there in cyberspace if not in person. Vernon and his wife Gabri Christa, founder/director of Danzaisa, are long-time St. George residents. Save Staten Island, creators of the Staten Island Yearbook and the producers of an upcoming documentary film about the Island, will discuss how they are exploring and fighting to change Islanders’ own stereotypes of themselves and expand people’s perceptions of what the Island truly is, and what it can become. Musician Milton Henry, legendary reggae artist and a native of Jamaica, will grace the stage with his musical partner Sugar Hayes, to present the world premiere of her song, “Let’s Join Hands Together,” composed for the first Annual Staten Island Black Heritage Parade in honor of visiting dignitary, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was sworn in on January 16, 2006 as Liberia’s President and Africa’s first female elected head of state. The Sisters Wijesinghe, Sri Lankan twins Nadisha and Madusha, represent the large Staten Island community of Sri Lankans with their classic and exquisitely choreographed dance. The Staten Island Pipers, local favorites, will regale the audience with their pipes and drums. Trish & Christoph, who compose songs with stories and anecdotes about Staten Island’s North Shore, will sing about nail salons and thrift stores, cats, raccoons, the ferry, and the harbor.

It’s an experience that you won’t want to miss, as the action evolves onstage and throughout the theater in a courageous act of unscripted marvel. The full stage set will incorporate visual projections and actual set pieces to recreate Staten Island’s landscape and landmarks.

It comes as no surprise that Sara Valentine, creator of Little Miss Big Mouth, should express her affinity for the absurd, for risk-taking, and for multilayered performance, as the circus tradition is in her blood and family genes. The daughter of former circus aerialists, Valentine is a lead performer with Hungry March Band, New York City’s global brass ensemble, with which she recently celebrated ten years. Behind the scenes, she has produced, curated, and promoted over 100 shows in the NYC region. She was the project manager for The Staten Island Composers Project, which was presented by the Council for the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island in October 2007 at the historic St. George Theatre. In 2004 and 2005, Valentine curated performance art events in Tompkins Square Park as part of the HOWL! Festival.

Little Miss Big Mouth, the live, theatrical, thriller-talk show, was created out of her women’s performances series of the same name, which ran at Meow Mix from 1997 through 1999, and included performances in Krakow, Poland in 1998 and 1999. Little Miss Big Mouth brings together the best of New York City’s performance, politics, and activist scenes for an eclectic piece of cabaret/theater that is not to be missed.

Tickets for Staten Island: Alive in Wonderland at the Center for the Arts, College of Staten Island, are $20 and can be purchased through the CFA Box Office, 718.982.ARTS (2787) or online at www.cfashows.com.

The CSI Center for the Arts 2007-2008 season is supported in part with funds from the Richmond County Savings Foundation; a gift by the Carnegie Corporation (made possible by an anonymous donor); the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the Office of the Borough President, Hon. James P. Molinaro; the Staten Island Rotary Foundation; the College of Staten Island; and by our many business and individual patrons.

Directions to the Center for the Arts (2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314) :

By Car: The Center for the Arts is located within a few minutes’ drive from the Verrazano, Goethals, and Bayonne bridges. Take I-278 (the Staten Island Expressway and exit at Victory Boulevard, proceed to campus parking lots 1 and 2. Parking is free.

By Mass Transit: The Center for the Arts is served by the S62, S61, S93, and S53 buses, which are coordinated with the Staten Island Ferry schedule.

PS 35 Greenhouse Project Blooms Thanks to Funding from ConEd and CSI

The students at PS 35, a school on Staten Island’s North Shore that serves children in grades K through 5, are growing a lot more than plants in their greenhouse, thanks to the College of Staten Island and ConEdison. After receiving a $20,000 grant from ConEd, CSI’s Discovery Institute and its Teaching Scholars program have enlisted CSI students to go to PS 35 and help the children and their teachers run the greenhouse. As a result, the green inhabitants of the facility are happier, but so is everyone involved: the schoolchildren, the CSI students, and the teachers.

The Greenhouse Project is a supplemental program, focusing on science and the environment. CSI faculty, including Biology Department Chair Richard Veit, and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ralf Peetz contribute their expertise, advice, and supervision in regard to the curriculum, while Ivin Doctor, director of the Teaching Scholars program coordinates CSI student involvement.

Ashleigh Groth, an elementary education major at CSI and one of the two Teaching Scholars involved, says that her “experience with this program has just been unbelievable. Being able to do different grades definitely helped to let me know where I want to be as a teacher, what grade level works best for me… I was able to learn that I worked better with younger children and I thought, actually, that I was going to [work with] older children. So, that really helped me to find myself.” As for her impact on the children, Groth adds, “through the Greenhouse Project, working with all the different grades, seeing what their abilities are in science, and being able to help them work hands-on in the greenhouse, I think that the program is excellent. The greenhouse allows children to come out of the classroom with hands-on experience, visualizations, [experience in] working with groups, and with us being there we’re able to circulate through the groups and actually make sure that they’re doing the work, and that they understand why we’re doing this.”

The Project’s other Teaching Scholar is Debbie Miranda, an education major at CSI who will be receiving her associate’s degree this semester. She relates a similar experience of self-discovery through the Project. “I first came to school in hopes of going into psychology and I got involved with Mr. Doctor. Because of that, I decided to go into education and I started working with high school students. I’m now working with elementary students, so I’ve had the opportunity to see children at all different ages. Working with the children in the Greenhouse Project, I get to see them work hands-on and actually understand what’s going on with science. And I actually found that that’s where I want to be in education.” Hoping eventually to teach special education, Debbie has chosen to give additional assistance to students who are lagging behind the others to help them catch up.

Doctor explains that the students who become Teaching Scholars are often those who initially are not going into education. Through Teaching Scholars, CSI students are placed in actual classroom situations with the hope that they will get a better idea of their career goals after the experience. Even if they decide against an education career, Doctor said that the experience is “a win/win” because CSI students enhance the educational experience of their pupils, while discovering more about their career paths while also getting paid.

Building on the theme of discovery, Doctor says that the Greenhouse Project puts a new spin on science education. “Science in the elementary school is often handled in a very dry, robot-like manner because the teachers themselves aren’t comfortable with the [topic. This Project] is almost like a marriage because it’s a discovery situation, which is what we are all about.” The children learn from the CSI mentors, and the mentors learn from the schoolchildren and the teacher.

Ralf Peetz recalls that the Project began initially as a way to provide support to the greenhouse, but explains, “the bigger goal behind it is to give the kids a respect and appreciation of the environment around them—the sciences, life sciences—by providing them with role models [who are] helping the teacher. But it’s a give and take on both sides, in essence. The kids get more out of the greenhouse, so it can be used to the full extent, and there are plans to introduce creative writing and reading in connection with the greenhouse so it’s being used in more dimensions than were originally conceived.” At the same time, Peetz continues, “science is not a foreign vocabulary anymore but it’s a hands-on experience, it gets respect, and you just grow up in a different way appreciating it… I think this provides the kids with tremendous opportunities, as well as everybody who’s connected.”

“As a company dedicated to education and environmental excellence, Con Edison partners with institutions like the College of Staten Island that share its concerns for preserving and protecting the environment through conservation and beautification projects and educational initiatives,” said Mark Irving, Director of Public Affairs for ConEd. “Working with CSI on the greenhouse and environmental studies program at PS 35 is an example of community and corporate entities taking steps to enhance the quality of life for all and instill values in future generations. It’s important that our customers know that preserving the environment is part of our business philosophy and we are willing to team up with them to educate our children to build and maintain strong and stable neighborhoods. This project will help professors and students, at the college- and grade school-level to cultivate a “green consciousness.”

“This is part of a benevolent cycle of giving,” said Robert E. Huber, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at CSI. “We are grateful to ConEdison for their funding, and proud of our continued strategic partnership with Staten Island schools. This wonderful program will instill a love of nature and a sense of environmental stewardship in our schoolchildren, and will ultimately have far-reaching benefits to our entire community. I look forward to working with Mark, and all our friends at ConEd, on future projects.”

At present, the Greenhouse Project only has funding for one year, but Peetz and Doctor hope that they will secure more financial support to continue this community partnership and its important work.

PS 35 Greenhouse Project Blooms Thanks to Funding from Con Ed and CSI.

New York State SBDC Reaccredited: Staten Islander Returns Home to Invest $1.3 Million into Local Economy

The New York State Small Business Development Center (NYS SBDC) has received accreditation without conditions from the national Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC), under U.S. Congressional sanction, for the next four years.

The latest affirmation from the ASBDC comes after a lengthy state-wide self-study and the development of a strategic plan that addressed the program’s goals and objectives for Centers and clients (small business owners and entrepreneurs) at host campuses across the State.

A review team from the ASBDC’s National Accreditation Committee conducted on-site inspections and interviewed Service Center personnel as well as campus officials, sponsors, and clients of the program during a week-long visit to New York State.

“We are exceptionally pleased that the Accreditation Committee recognized past accomplishments and approved a four-year plan for the growth of the program,” said Dean Balsamini, director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the College of Staten Island (CSI).

“Since 1993, the SBDC at CSI has offered free counseling to help small businesses thrive and grow, as well as no-cost business and financial planning and marketing services,” added Balsamini. “We have helped create over 3,000 quality jobs and assisted over 4,000 businesses. But equally important, we are extremely proud to have helped small businesses on Staten Island invest over $100 million dollars locally.”

Take for example Kim Genduso, who graduated from CSI in 2002 with a degree in psychology. After graduation, she found herself running a relative’s struggling iron fabrication company in California, working 18-hour days. Soon, her new company won major contracts from the biggest builders and operated out of a 10,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility.

This year, Genduso returned east and established a new branch of ARC-TEC Welding and Fabrication Company. She has taken that dream to CSI’s SBDC, where Senior Advisor Refaat Sawires helped her to register as a Minority and Woman-Owned Business, and as an NYC Pre-qualified Contractor and Vendor.

He introduced her to representatives of the Empire State Zone Program, which offers tax credits and other incentives for locating manufacturing businesses in economically challenged areas. Once again, hard work paid off. ARC-TEC recently invested $375,000 in a headquarters building in Port Richmond, and Genduso plans to invest up to $1 million in a new state-of-the-art shop.

“Refaat Sawires and the Staten Island SBDC understand manufacturing and what it takes to succeed as a New York business,” says Genduso. “They have been a great help to me.”

“CSI is dedicated to providing not only a world-class education to our students, but also being a resource to the growing needs of Staten Islanders and its business owners,” says CSI President Tomás Morales, “and our commitment to community is evident in the continued growth and success of our alumni and the SBDC.”

The SBDC at CSI is open Monday through Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm. They can be reached at 718.982.2560.

Mr. James King, State Director for the NYS SBDC, said, “These reviews are a part of the four-year national accreditation review cycle. ASBDC Reviewers will visit the NYS SBDC again in 2012 for our next accreditation review. This is the fifth consecutive accreditation review in which the New York program has displayed continuous growth and progress, meriting full accreditation without exception, a distinction only granted to an average of ten to 15% of State or Regional SBDC programs. We are very proud of our record of achievement and will continue to seek excellence in services.”

The ASBDC Accreditation Committee is the unit of the national Association of Small Business Development Centers operating under federal statutory approval and overseen by the U.S. Small Business Administration. NYS SBDC Service Centers are hosted by colleges and universities in New York State that include The State University of New York, The City University of New York, and private institutions. The Review Team that visited New York was composed of ASBDC representatives from Delaware, the District of Columbia, Missouri, and New Mexico. The ASBDC has Member programs from all 50 States and the US territories, as well as international institutions.

The NYS SBDC has been a member of the ASBDC since 1984 and a founding member of the forerunner to the Accreditation Committee in 1988. During its history, the NYS SBDC has been recognized with 20 regional and national awards for excellence. The NYS SBDC was awarded the highest national honor for its work with small businesses after the 9/11 attacks, the National Phoenix Award for Disaster Assistance, hosted in Washington, DC by then Secretary of State Colin Powell, a native New Yorker.

NYS SBDC Reaccredited: Staten Islander Returns Home to Invest $1.3 Million into Local Economy.

Global Virtual Classroom Project Receives CUNY Ribaudo Award

For the past four years, students at the College of Staten Island have been able to attend classes in Turkey, China, Greece, Italy, and South Africa without having to leave the comforts of the College’s beautiful 204-acre campus. Thanks to the Virtual Classroom Project, where students at CSI link to higher education institutions in other countries, and students at those colleges also connect with them, everyone involved gains insights to other parts of the world that they previously only might have imagined.

Now, the Project, which is the result of a collaboration between Mike Kress, CSI Vice President for Technology Systems; Mark Lewental, the College’s Director of Media Services; and CSI faculty members (the late François Ngolet, Jane Marcus-Delgado, Catherine Lavender, and Emmanuel Mbah) has been honored by The City University of New York, which has presented the Virtual Classroom Project with a Ribaudo Award for Innovation in Technology. The award honors Michael Ribaudo, the late CUNY Dean of Computer Information Systems and Chief Technology Officer.

“This award means so very much to CSI because Mike Ribaudo was instrumental in developing our video conferencing facilities and he was a good friend,” Kress remarks. “Mike went ‘all in’ on the University-wide Media Distribution System, which formed the technology base for our virtual classroom more than a decade later.” In addition, Kress thanks “Professors Emile Chi and Roberta Klibaner, Ethem Kok, and Ann Helm for their assistance in recruiting our international partners.”

Since CSI became one of only ten colleges nationwide to receive support from the U.S. Department of State to participate in the program, the Virtual Classroom Project has been linking students at CSI to their counterparts at Kahir Das University in Turkey, Shanghai TV University in China, the American University in Rome, the American College of Thessonaliki in Greece, and Rhodes and Metropolitan universities in South Africa.

Through the Project, these institutions share students, faculty, lectures, curricula, and technology through a variety of technologies such as videoconferencing, email, Internet chat, and the Blackboard classroom management system, which provides students with access to class materials online. Interaction between students continues after class sessions via email and Blackboard technology.

Dr. Tomás Morales, President of CSI, notes that the Project’s connection to Turkey is “especially critical, as it has given [CSI] students an opportunity to collaborate with a primarily Muslim student body. There is perhaps no more important topic for our times,” he adds, “than improving the United States’ relationship with the Islamic world, and the [Project] has built invaluable and durable bridges toward that end.”

Global Virtual Classroom Project Receives CUNY Ribaudo Award.

CSI Students Help Habitat for Humanity, Honor MLK

Eleven students and one staff member from the College of Staten Island helped to make the world a better place last week by taking part in Habitat for Humanity’s “Building the Dream” event, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday was celebrated January 21.

Robert King Kee was instrumental in organizing the College’s contribution to the work, which took place at a 41-unit building at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. It is also the largest Habitat project to date, according to Kee. He adds that “the project is at the early stages of development so it was exciting to be a part of history in the making.”

Peter DeCrescenzo, a Junior at CSI, recalls, “Many of the students who participated in Saturday’s build had never used a drill, let alone cut through aluminum to help put up the walls in what is to become affordable housing. It is thanks to the Emerging Leaders Program that my fellow peers and I were introduced to this event and I look forward to future opportunities of service within the community.”

Fellow Junior Jose Saltos adds, “It was a great experience for me, because I had the chance to work with other student leaders. It also made me feel great about myself. Even though it was freezing outside, I didn’t feel the cold, not even for a second, because of the warmth of the people I was working with.”

Senior Charlene Morgan also appreciated the opportunity to lend a hand, stating “volunteering at this juncture gave me the opportunity to be of service to people from low-income communities to live in their own house. It was also a lot of fun working with friends and other student leaders from other schools and organizations.”

“We originally thought that we were going to be painting but we spent all day framing and putting up walls. It was quite exciting to see drills in the students’ hands,” explains Kee, adding that students were bubbling over with energy and enthusiasm.

Having worked with Habitat in the past, Kee, the Coordinator of Student Leadership Development with the CSI Office of Student Life, originally floated the idea of working with Habitat to students in CSI’s Emerging Leaders Program, a year-long program that develops and cultivates leadership skills. One of the goals of the program is to have students engage more actively in Student Life activities, such as Student Government and clubs.

Noting how this project benefits not only the future residents of Brooklyn but also the academic and social growth for the student builders, Carol Brower, Director of Student Life at CSI says “It is extremely rewarding and inspiring to see our students taking such an active role in service to others. What a wonderful reflection this is on CSI.”

When it was all over, the students “were all asking when we could do it again,” says Kee. As a result of CSI’s enthusiastic contribution to the Brooklyn project, Kee reports that Habitat expressed interest in working with CSI students again when it brings a project to Staten Island, perhaps as early as this fall.

CSI Students Help Habitat for Humanity, Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

CSI English Professor Wins Whiting Writers' Award

Cate Marvin, an Assistant Professor of English and Assistant Chair of the department at the College of Staten Island, has recently received a prestigious Whiting Writers’ Award for poetry.

“I feel pretty great about having received it,” Marvin says. “This is a tremendous honor and recognition of many, many years of work. This award was not just for my second book, but for my career in general…It’s also significant because all of the people who have won this award are writers that I deeply respect.” Marvin added that “the award will give me time to write, which is the most important thing to me.”

Since 1985, the award, which includes a $50,000 prize, has been given by the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation annually “to ten emerging writers in fiction, poetry, and plays. The awards…are based on accomplishment and promise.”

Marvin was also honored in 2000 with a Kathryn A. Morton Prize for her first book, “World’s Tallest Disaster,” published by Sarabande Books in 2001. In 2002, she received the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize.

Her poems have appeared in “The New England Review,” “Poetry,” “The Kenyon Review,” “Fence,” “The Paris Review,” “The Cincinnati Review,” “Slate,” “Verse,” “Boston Review,” “Ninth Letter,” and forthcoming works will be published in “TriQuarterly.” Her second book of poems, “Fragment of the Head of a Queen,” was published in August 2007 by Sarabande.

Cate Marvin has recently received a prestigious Whiting Writers' Award for poetry.

CSI Presents "Staten Island: Alive in Wonderland"

The College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts (CFA) presents Staten Island: Alive in Wonderland: A Love Letter to New York City’s Forgotten Borough on Saturday, February 9, 2008 at 8:00pm. The Richmond County Midway in the CFA Atrium opens at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20.

Staten Island: Alive in Wonderland is the latest installment of Sara Valentine’s live theatrical talk show, Little Miss Big Mouth. This one-night-only, special event is a wild and wacky love-fest about Valentine’s adopted hometown of Staten Island, New York. Celebrating the borough’s unique and distinctive culture, geography, lifestyle, and people, the show features guests from all aspects of Staten Island life. Whether artists, cabbies, musicians, shopkeepers, or community personalities, Sara Valentine is an equal opportunity interviewer! Produced in a television variety-entertainment format (think ’70s television classics such as Donny & Marie or The Carol Burnett Show), mixed with a hefty influence of late-night talk shows, anything goes during this evening of largely unscripted live theater.

Valentine (freelance curator, performing artist, and producer) and husband Kris Anton (technical direction and visual projections) inject other dimensions into the performance: animation, their own house band punctuating the action, interpretive dance, and who knows what else, as anything seems possible in this theatrical circus with the vitality and variety of a retro comedy burlesque.

You’d hardly guess, with all the action onstage, that some serious topics are being raised. How has the Island changed from its agrarian past to its suburban present, and what might possibly be its future incarnations? What is Staten Island’s role in the City of New York? And how do Staten Islanders define themselves in the midst of all this change? The show’s sincere inquiry takes place against a background of genuine celebration for the Island’s natural wonders, its unique history, its artistic and cultural life, its communities, and the day-to-day simplicities of Island living—in short, the characteristics that make Staten Island a wonderful and altogether unique alternative to the rest of New York City.

Richmond County Midway:
This incomparable theatrical event, (for it’s so much more than a show), begins the moment the audience arrives at the Center for the Arts and enters the “Richmond County Midway” in the CFA’s imposing Atrium. Booths will house attractions and information on various Island establishments and groups and create a carnival atmosphere that is so apropos for an evening with Little Miss Big Mouth. The Day de Dada performance group will greet the audience in the CFA Atrium, distributing stickers, pom-poms, kazoos, and heaven knows what other cheering apparatus, to prime the audience with some rousing cheers—campy improv at its live-best! Everything Goes Café, the eclectic bookstore/performance space and Internet café will be there, as will photographer Irma Borghese-Geisler. Mandolin Brothers, the center of the acoustic universe as one of the world’s largest merchants of American fretted instruments, will also join the party.

Featured Guests:
The show will feature a multitude of Island guests such as painter Jenny Tango, with her wry sense of humor and keen perception, both on and off the canvas; SI native Maureen Seaberg, journalist and author known for many years to Staten Island Advance readers for her immigration column; Deputy Borough President Ed Burke, who was instrumental in the publication of Staten Island Attractions: Big Apple Pleasures, Small Town Treasures, a cultural publication to help promote tourism for Staten Island; and Vernon Reid, guitarist, frontman, Grammy-nominated producer, and member of the multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning rock group, Living Colour will be there in cyberspace if not in person. Vernon and his wife Gabri Christa, founder/director of Danzaisa, are long-time St. George residents. Save Staten Island, creators of the Staten Island Yearbook and the producers of an upcoming documentary film about the Island, will discuss how they are exploring and fighting to change Islanders’ own stereotypes of themselves and expand people’s perceptions of what the Island truly is, and what it can become. Musician Milton Henry, legendary reggae artist and a native of Jamaica, will grace the stage with his musical partner Sugar Hayes, to present the world premiere of her song, “Let’s Join Hands Together,” composed for the first Annual Staten Island Black Heritage Parade in honor of visiting dignitary, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was sworn in on January 16, 2006 as Liberia’s President and Africa’s first female elected head of state. The Sisters Wijesinghe, Sri Lankan twins Nadisha and Madusha, represent the large Staten Island community of Sri Lankans with their classic and exquisitely choreographed dance. The Staten Island Pipers, local favorites, will regale the audience with their pipes and drums. Trish & Christoph, who compose songs with stories and anecdotes about Staten Island’s North Shore, will sing about nail salons and thrift stores, cats, raccoons, the ferry, and the harbor.

It’s an experience that you won’t want to miss, as the action evolves onstage and throughout the theater in a courageous act of unscripted marvel. The full stage set will incorporate visual projections and actual set pieces to recreate Staten Island’s landscape and landmarks.

It comes as no surprise that Sara Valentine, creator of Little Miss Big Mouth, should express her affinity for the absurd, for risk-taking, and for multilayered performance, as the circus tradition is in her blood and family genes. The daughter of former circus aerialists, Valentine is a lead performer with Hungry March Band, New York City’s global brass ensemble, with which she recently celebrated ten years. Behind the scenes, she has produced, curated, and promoted over 100 shows in the NYC region. She was the project manager for The Staten Island Composers Project, which was presented by the Council for the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island in October 2007 at the historic St. George Theatre. In 2004 and 2005, Valentine curated performance art events in Tompkins Square Park as part of the HOWL! Festival.

Little Miss Big Mouth, the live, theatrical, thriller-talk show, was created out of her women’s performances series of the same name, which ran at Meow Mix from 1997 through 1999, and included performances in Krakow, Poland in 1998 and 1999. Little Miss Big Mouth brings together the best of New York City’s performance, politics, and activist scenes for an eclectic piece of cabaret/theater that is not to be missed.

Tickets for Staten Island: Alive in Wonderland at the Center for the Arts, College of Staten Island, are $20 and can be purchased through the CFA Box Office, 718.982.ARTS (2787) or online at www.cfashows.com.

The CSI Center for the Arts 2007-2008 season is supported in part with funds from the Richmond County Savings Foundation; a gift by the Carnegie Corporation (made possible by an anonymous donor); the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; the Office of the Borough President, Hon. James P. Molinaro; the Staten Island Rotary Foundation; the College of Staten Island; and by our many business and individual patrons.

Directions to the Center for the Arts, 2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314:

By Car: The Center for the Arts is located within a few minutes’ drive from the Verrazano, Goethals, and Bayonne Bridges. Take I-278 (the Staten Island Expressway and exit at Victory Boulevard, proceed to campus parking lots 1 and 2. Parking is free.

By Mass Transit: The Center for the Arts is served by the S62, S61, S93, and S53 buses, which are coordinated with the Staten Island Ferry schedule.