Alex Torres and His Latin Kings: CFA Caliente!

From a tasty Guaguanco to a hot Mambo, or from a soulful English-language Cha-Cha-Cha to an instrumental Latin jazz composition, there is dance music for everyone at the upcoming concert by Alex Torres y Su Orquestra at the Center for the Arts (CFA) at the College of Staten Island (CSI) on Saturday, May 12, 2007 at 8:00pm. Tickets are $35, which includes a free dance lesson by Steve Seda at 7:00pm in the CFA Atrium. Contact: 718-982-ARTS (2787), boxoffice@cfashows.com, or www.cfashows.com.

Hailed for intricate rhythms, a tight horn section, and dynamic vocals, Torres and his Latin Kings are made up of Nicholas Lue (piano/vocals); Brian Patneaude (saxaphones); Ken Olsen (trombone); Terry Gordon, Fred Young, and Jon Bronk (trumpet); Roberto Dueno (timbales); Jimmy Fontanez (bongo/tambora/vocals); Angel “Sweet Pea” Dueno (guiro/guira/maracas/vocals); Todd Fabozzi (congas); William Cruz (coro); Sammy Negron (lead vocalist); and Torres (bass/vocals).

When at the age of 14, Alex Torres found himself in upstate New York with no access to the music of the old Bronx neighborhood, he improvised. Gathering like-minded friends in his bedroom, they hammered out the traditional beats until they had four songs down. They then got a gig and the Latin Kings were born. At the core of Alex Torres’s music is his commitment to the traditions and Afro-Caribbean rhythms of his roots. He insists that his players develop not just individual ability, but an appreciation of the theory and history behind the music they are playing. The Orchestra recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with, 25 to Life, its eighth CD featuring Salsa dura, a Cumbia, two Merengues, Latin jazz, and even a Reggaeton tune.

Torres and his band are also actively involved in art-in-education programs in an effort to familiarize people with musical forms originating in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic with the hope of broadening people’s understanding of Latin culture.

Alex Torres and His Latin Kings will perform in the Williamson Theatre at the CSI Center for the Arts, where a dance floor will be ready for those who “just gotta dance.” Steve Seda, noted for his teaching at Evolution Dance Company on the Island and Chelsea Studios in Manhattan, will lead a one-hour dance class in the CFA Atrium prior to the concert.

CSI to Host "In Our Own Voices: Living with Mental Illness"

The College of Staten Island (CSI) presents “In Our Own Voices: Living with
Mental Illness” on Monday, April 30 at 2:30pm in the Campus Center (Buildning 1C) Green Dolphin Lounge.

The presenter will be Linda Wilson, the Executive Director of the Staten Island chaper of NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness). There will also be a
video presentation that conveys the message of recovery, hope, and treatment
for people living with mental illness.

The audience will hear from people who are living successfully with
disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

The event is being sponsored by the CSI Office of Disability Services in
celebration of CUNY Disability Awareness Month.

The event is free and open to the public. CSI is located at 2800 Victory
Boulevard in the Willowbrook neighborhood of Staten Island.

Moments to Remember: The Four Lads, The Four Aces, and The Inkspots

Nostalgia music? Think again. These three vocal groups from the early 1950s–all members of the Vocal Group Hall of Fame–bridged the big band and doo-wop eras, and shaped U.S. popular song as we know it today. The Center for the Arts (CFA) at the College of Staten Island (CSI) is honored to present “Moments to Remember”: The Four Lads, The Four Aces, and The Inkspots on Saturday, May 5, 2007 at 8:00pm. Tickets are $45, $42, $39. Contact: 718-982-ARTS (2787), boxoffice@cfashows.com, or www.cfashows.com.

The Four Lads launched their career in 1950 singing in local clubs around Toronto. At the New York club, Le Ruban Bleu, Mitch Miller saw them and put them on the million-selling Johnnie Ray records “Cry” and “The Little White Cloud that Cried.” After that, the Lads were signed to their own recording contract, receiving their first gold record in 1953 for “Istanbul.” Their success story includes the sale of some 50 million singles and albums to date including “Standin’ on the Corner.” Original member Frank Busseri (bass) is joined by Don Farrar (lead tenor), Aaron Bruce (second tenor), and Alan Sokoloff (baritone).

The Four Aces came out of the Philadelphia scene; Fred Diodati has been the lead singer since 1955. He is joined on stage by Joe Giglio, Harry Heisler, and Danny Colingohas–together since the 1980s. The group recorded 11 top-selling records with such songs as “(It’s No) Sin,” “Heart and Soul,” and “Mr. Sandman.” Their biggest hits were from movie themes, including “Three Coins in a Fountain” and “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing.”

From the late 1930s to the early 1950s, The Inkspots were one of the most popular and influential singing groups of the time. Originally from Indianapolis, the quartet hit their stride in New York with “If I Didn’t Care” (19 million copies sold). No original members are left, but three of the four vocalists have been with the group for 20 plus years: Harold Winley (bass singer/narrator), Sonny Hatchett (second lead/second tenor), Herman Denby (lead tenor), and Morris Dow (bartione/guitarist).

The CSI Center for the Arts is supported in part by the Richmond County Savings Foundation, a gift by the Carnegie Corporation (made possible by an anonymous donor), Con Edison, New York State (through the efforts of the Staten Island Delegation to the State Legislature), New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Northfield Savings Bank, the Nicotra Group, the SI Bank & Trust Foundation, Time Warner Cable, and by our many business and individual patrons.

“Moments to Remember” is the 17th event of the Center for the Arts’ 2006-2007 season. Located at 2800 Victory Boulevard 1P, Staten Island, the CFA is easily reached by car from I-278. For information and ticket reservations, contact: 718-982-ARTS (2787), boxoffice@cfashows.com, or www.cfashows.com.

EDITOR’S NOTE: High-resolution photography available. Contact Ken Bach at bach@mail.csi.cuny.edu or 718-982-2364.

The CFA 2006-2007 Season continues with:

Saturday, May 12 at 8:00pm – Alex Torres y Su Orquestra

Saturday, May 19 at 8:00pm – Laughter Arts Festival, featuring Dom Irrera and Bobby Collins

CSI Center for the Arts: (718) 982-ARTS or www.cfashows.com.

Building Community on Staten Island in the 21st Century

The Center for the Study of Staten Island will hold its third annual policy conference, “Building Community on Staten Island in the 21st Century,” on Friday, April 13, 2007.

The Conference is supported by a grant from the office of New York City Council Member Michael McMahon, and will be held in the College of Staten Island (CSI)’s Center for the Arts.

At 9:30am, CSI President Marlene Springer and Council Member Michael McMahon will begin the morning with remarks about civic engagement and the Staten Island community.

At 10:00am, Richard Flanagan, Associate Director of the Center and a political scientist at the College, will report the findings the “Staten Island Social Capital Community Benchmark Study,” a poll that measures the frequency of participation in local civic, political, religious, and volunteer groups, as well as the level of trust that Staten Islanders invest in their neighbors.

The poll, which was supported by a grant from the Staten Island Foundation, was developed by researchers at Harvard University in 2000, and revised in 2006, to be used by communities across the country as a tool to measure civic health objectively.

At 11:00am, Jennifer Leonard, President and Executive Director of the Rochester Area Community Foundation, one of the leaders of the 2006 benchmark survey, will discuss how social capital concepts have been used elsewhere to build better communities.

At 1:15pm, Gianni Long of ACP-Visioning and Planning will discuss a proposal for a comprehensive visioning process for Staten Island. A visioning process brings citizens together to establish public priorities and build a coalition to improve the community. ACP-Visioning and Planning is a firm that has conducted visioning projects for the cities of Houston, Chattanooga, and Birmingham.

Registration begins at 8:45am. The College of Staten Island is located at 2800 Victory Boulevard in the Willowbrook section of Staten Island.

For more information and reservations, please call the CSI Advancement office at 718-982-2365.

CSI to Screen "The Last Ghost of War"

The Last Ghost of War will screen Wednesday, April 18 at 12:30pm in the College of Staten Island’s Williamson Theatre.

The film screening, which covers the impact of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, will be followed by a discussion with the film’s director, the award-winning documentary producer Janet Gardner.

The film takes place at Tu Du Hospital in Saigon, where babies in a special unit have enlarged heads or have missing limbs.

Nguyen Thi Thu Linh, born without arms, writes with her feet.

A boy with a shrunken leg careens around the corridor in a wheelchair.

Thirty years after the end of the Vietnam War, they are among several million believed to be victims of Agent Orange. In The Last Ghost of War, we meet victims who are plaintiffs in a class action suit against 32 U.S. chemical companies. Attorneys, activists and scientists take us to a new battlefield.

These Vietnamese victims are seeking compensation and justice. The question is: were these dioxin-laden herbicides chemical weapons? If so, who should be held accountable in the wake of what was arguably the largest chemical warfare operation in history?

The Last Ghost of War is a presentation of the Center for Asian American Media with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Kevin Kline narrates this compelling documentary, produced by Pham Quoc Thai and Janet Gardner. It was directed by Ms. Gardner.

Janet Gardner is known especially for her work on Southeast Asia. She is a veteran of NBC News’ The Today Show, WNBC TV’s NewsCenter 4, WRC TV’s News4 (Washington, DC), Conde Naste Publications, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Other publications to which she has contributed include The New York Times, The Boston Globe Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, and The Nation.

Ms. Gardner was a Casey Fellow for a program on children and violence, at The Casey Journalism Center for Children and Families at the University of Maryland. She has taught journalism at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey.

The Last Ghost of War was shot on location in Vietnam, France, and the United States over a two-year period. Running time is 57 minutes. The event is free and open to the public; the CSI Student Government and student activity fees sponsor it.

The College of Staten Island is located at 2800 Victory Boulevard. The Williamson Theatre is located in the Center for the Arts (1P) building.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Janet Gardner will be available for interview on the day of the event.

"Crabquistador: Scavenger of God": A new performance by Brooklyn's Jollyship the Whiz-Bang

Playwright Nick Jones and composer Raja Azar, the new wunderkinds of performance art/puppetry/opera, bring their eight-member ensemble, Jollyship the Whiz-Bang, to the Center for the Arts (CFA) at the College of Staten Island (CSI) on Friday, April 20, 2007 at 8:00pm in the performance of “Crabquistador: Scavenger of God.” Hilarious and edgy, “Crabquistador” tells the tale of a land-bound, late-in-life pirate who, in seeking comfort in Christianity, gets mixed up in a pyramid scheme that rewards money for converts. This performance is for adults 18 years of age and older; tickets are $15. Contact: 718-982-ARTS (2787), boxoffice@cfashows.com, or www.cfashows.com.

Jollyship the Whiz-Bang got its start at Bard College where Jones and Azar did their undergraduate work. In 2002, Jollyship anchored in Brooklyn with Jones and Azar committed to developing anything from concert material to full-length multimedia productions. The troupe was recently at the Time-Based Art Festival at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art along with Laurie Anderson. “Crabquistador: Scavenger of God” is a sequel to “Sleepless Fishes,” the puppet-pirate-rock-opera that takes place aboard ship. “Crabquistador” features such characters as Captain Clamp, Mr. Skeevy, and the crab, Jumping Jack McMillan. Jollyship brilliantly juxtaposes a five-piece rock band, sword-fighting puppets, PowerPoint presentations, video-projected backgrounds, fire and brimstone, and eight original songs including ”Converting to Christianity” and ”Missionary Style.”

Nick Jones (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and puppets) will be joined on stage with Jollyship the Whiz-Bang crew of Keith Fredrickson (lead guitar), Dan Kutcher (bass), Mr. Skeevy (keyboards, accordion, and puppets), Kevin Raczka (drums), Devon Ludlow, Katie McClenahan (vocals and lead puppets), and Kris Anton (video design and tech support).

Last March, Nick Jones led a master class for CSI theater students as part of Professor Wickstrom’s Performance I course. Afterward, he participated in a CFA Meet the Artist event in the atrium.

The CSI Center for the Arts is supported in part by the Richmond County Savings Foundation, a gift by the Carnegie Corporation (made possible by an anonymous donor), Con Edison, New York State (through the efforts of the Staten Island Delegation to the State Legislature), New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Northfield Savings Bank, the Nicotra Group, the SI Bank & Trust Foundation, Time Warner Cable, and by our many business and individual patrons.

Jollyship the Whiz-Bang is the 15th event of the Center for the Arts’ 2006-2007 season. Located at 2800 Victory Boulevard in Staten Island, the CFA is easily reached by car from the Victory Boulevard exit of I-278, the Staten Island Expressway. For information and ticket reservations, contact: 718-982-ARTS (2787), boxoffice@cfashows.com, or www.cfashows.com.

CFA 2006-2007 Season continues with:

Sunday, April 29 at 3:00pm – Sundog Theatre’s Charlotte’s Web (A Family Series Event)

Saturday, May 5 at 8:00pm – Moments to Remember: The Four Lads, The Four Aces, and The Inkspots

Saturday, May 12 at 8:00pm – Alex Torres y Su Orquestra

Saturday, May 19 at 8:00pm – The Laughter Arts Festival, featuring Dom Irrera and Bobby Collins

CSI Center for the Arts: 718-982-ARTS or www.cfashows.com.

CSI Hosts Workshop for Assessing Learning and Institutional Effectiveness

The College of Staten Island (CSI) is hosting workshops that focus on assisting faculty and staff to meet both CUNY and Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) assessment requirements.

The presenter is Linda Suskie, vice president of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Suskie is a dynamic and energetic speaker, and a nationally recognized expert on assessment. She regularly speaks on the topic at MSCHE accreditation workshops and presents programs on assessment for MSCHE and other groups. In 2004, she published “Assessing Student Learning: A Common Sense Guide.”

Schedule:

Thursday, March 29 – “Getting Started with Assessing General Education”

This workshop will prepare participants to:

  • Brainstorm strategies to promote a campus-wide culture of assessment
  • Develop clear statements of expected learning outcomes for students
  • Align general education curriculum with expected learning outcomes
  • Identify sources of evidence of student achievement
  • Develop simple but effective tools to assess student learning
  • Organize assessment efforts across disciplines

-8:30am-9:00am: Continental Breakfast – 2nd Floor Lounge, Center for the Arts (1P)

-9:00am-noon: Morning Session — Williamson Theatre, Center for the Arts (1P)

-Noon-1:00pm: Lunch – 2nd Floor Lounge, Center for the Arts (1P)

-1:00pm-4:00pm: Afternoon Session – Williamson Theatre, Center for the Arts (1P)

Friday, March 30 – “Understanding and Using Assessment Results”

This workshop will prepare participants to:

  • Explain Middle States’ expectations for assessment
  • Set targets for assessment results
  • Summarize and interpret assessment results
  • Use assessment results to improve teaching and learning and to inform planning and budgeting decisions

-8:30am-9:00am: Continental Breakfast-2nd Floor Lounge, Center for the Arts (1P)

-9:00-noon: Program — Williamson Theatre, Center for the Arts (1P)

Friday, March 30 – “Assessing Institutional Effectiveness”

This workshop will prepare participants to:

  • Articulate effective, assessable institutional goals
  • Identify strategies to assess the achievement of institutional goals
  • Promote a climate for using assessment results

-1:00pm-3:30pm: Program — Williamson Theatre, Center for the Arts (1P)

Registrants will receive conference materials including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education publications “Student Learning Assessment: Options and Resources” (2003), and “Assessing Student Learning and Institutional Effectiveness” (2005).

The CUNY Office of Academic Affairs underwrites this conference. CUNY faculty and staff may attend at no cost. For more information, contact Linda Reese, Special Assistant for Academic Affairs at reese@mail.csi.cuny.edu or 718-982-2434.

CSI Swimmer Eros Qama off to World Swim Championships; Sets Sights on 2008 Olympics

College of Staten Island senior men’s swimmer Eros Qama, the CUNYAC Men’s Swimmer of the Year, will be boarding a plane to Melbourne, Australia later today, to participate in the 12th Annual FINA World Swim Championships, in an attempt to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics representing Albania.

Coming off an incredible swim season at CSI, where he closed the door on a career that features a combined ten new CSI swim records and a pair of conference championships, Qama is now setting his sights on a national level. In order to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympiad in Beijing, China, Qama must compete in an internationally sanctioned meet. His first opportunity will come when he touches down in Melbourne for the FINA World Championships.

Also known as the Federation Internationale de Natation, FINA is the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming, and open water swimming. Every two years, FINA conducts world championships in these respective sports, and athletes use their time and/or scores to qualify for Olympic status with their home countries. The 2007 Melbourne Games started on March 17 and continue until April 1. Qama will be participating in the 400-meter Freestyle event on March 25, the 800-meter Freestyle and 200-meter Butterfly events on March 27, and the 100-meter Butterfly event on March 30.

Earlier this week, Qama sat down to discuss his Olympic dreams. He hopes that his times will merit him a place among the Albanian nationals at the 2008 Olympic Games.

“I am aware of the qualifying times of some of the athletes that have already solidified their spots,” Qama said. “Knowing this, I am confident I will be able to put forth my best effort and that should be enough.”

Although knowledge of being CSI’s first-ever Olympian and being a part of something so grand makes Qama giddy, he can’t help but feel grounded until it actually happens.

“It hasn’t happened yet so it hasn’t fazed me,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll find the words to say when everything is set in stone.”

Television coverage of the FINA World Championships from Melbourne, Australia, will begin March 25 and run through April 1 on Fox Sports Net (FSN).

FSN coverage is expected to reach more than 70 million households and be distributed on all Fox Sports Net regional channels. A daily one- or two-hour highlight show, produced and edited by World Championship Sports Network (WCSN), will be shown at 4:00pm local time with re-airs. Please check local listings in your area. Extensive coverage of all disciplines and events will also be available on WCSN. Contact your local cable or satellite operator to see if it is available in your area.

Qama has promised us updates on his travels through Melbourne. Be sure to check the CSI Athletics Website for updates at www.csidolphins.com.

The College of Staten Island is a senior college of The City University of New York, the nation’s leading urban university. CSI offers 35 academic programs, 15 graduate degree programs, and challenging doctoral programs to 12,500 students. Its athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division III level. For more information, visit www.csi.cuny.edu.