Paris comes to Staten Island an evening with Music’s Modern Muse

Step back in time to the allure, charm, and mystique of high-society French salons for a one night musical journey to turn-of-the-century Paris with A Soiree with the Princesse Edmond de Polignac.

One of the era’s most influential and colorful personalities, the Princesse Edmond de Polignac, a powerful and passionate lover of the arts, used her colossal fortune to benefit the 20th century world of music, letters, science, and culture, and her influences on these domains remain incalculable.

Sylvia KahanOn Tuesday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m. at the College of Staten Island, Sylvia Kahan, narrator and pianist, presents this world premiere performance based on her recently released book Music’s Modern Muse: A Life of Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac, published by University of Rochester Press.

Princesse Edmond de Polignac, born Winnaretta Singer, was the 20th child of sewing machine magnate Isaac Merritt Singer; her mother was Paris-born Isabelle Boyer, who, according to legend, was the model for Frédéric Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty. After the death of her father, she inherited a substantial part of the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, making her a millionaire at the age of eighteen.

Her 1893 marriage to Prince Edmond de Polignac, an amateur composer, brought her into contact with the most elite strata of French society. After Edmond’s death in 1901, she used her fortune to benefit the arts, science, and letters.

Sylvia Kahan, chair of the Performing and Creative Arts department at the College of Staten Island (CSI), spent a dozen years researching this legendary Yonkers-born Parisian in the European archives of the Singer and Polignac families. Kahan was particularly assisted in her work by Prince Edmond de Polignac, great-great-nephew and godson of the arts patron.

The performance will be presented in the Recital Hall of the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 at 7:00 p.m.

Michael Shugrue and Sylvia KahanKahan will be assisted by Janet Pranschke, soprano; Olivier Fluchaire, violin; James Hopkins, viola; and Jieun Cecilia Kim, cello. The event is presented by Michael Shugrue, the Friends of CSI, and the Performing and Creative Arts department.

Tickets for the nearly sold out premiere cost $20 and may be purchased by calling the college’s advancement office at (718)982-2342. All proceeds benefit the music program of CSI and student scholarships.

photography available


Gabriel Fauré: “Mandoline” from Cinq Mélodies de Venise

Edmond de Polignac: Lamento

Maurice Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte

Igor Stravinsky: Renard (recorded excerpt)

Erik Satie: La Mort de Socrate (recorded excerpt)

Manuel de Falla: El Retablo de Maese Pedro (recorded excerpt)

Igor Stravinsky: Eclogue I from Duo Concertant

Francis Poulenc: “Le Garçon de Liège” from Trois Poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin

Gabriel Fauré: Quartet No. 1 for Piano and Strings in C Minor, Op. 15 (•Allegro molto moderato, •Scherzo: Allegro vivo, •Adagio, •Allegro molto)

BACKGROUND: A Soiree with the Princesse Edmond de Polignac

WINNARETTA SINGER’s most significant contribution to the 20th century was in the musical domain: in addition to subsidizing individual artists (Nadia Boulanger, Clara Haskil, Arthur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz) and organizations (the Ballets Russes, l’Opéra de Paris, l’Orchestre Symphonique de Paris), she made a lifelong project of commissioning new musical works from composers, many of them unknown and struggling, to be performed in her Paris salon.

The list of works created as a result is long and extraordinary: Stravinsky’s Renard, Satie’s Socrate, Falla’s El Retablo de Maese Pedro, and Poulenc’s Two-Piano and Organ Concertos are among the best-known titles. In addition, her salon was a gathering place for luminaries of French culture such as Proust, Cocteau, Monet, Diaghilev, and Colette. Many of Proust’s memorable evocations of salon culture were born during his attendance of concerts in the Polignac music room.

Singer-Polignac supported the work of several women composers, including Ethel Smyth and Adela Maddison, using her influence to have their operas mounted in major European theaters. The Princesse de Polignac also was a patron of the Ballets Russes and the composers whose music became associated with the troupe’s productions. Her patronage extended to the worlds of science and architecture as well, and she counted among her protégés Marie Curie and Le Corbusier.

SYLVIA KAHAN is chair of the Performing and Creative Arts department at The City University of New York’s College of Staten Island. She is a member of the music faculties of the CUNY Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island.

Kahan has written extensively on late 19th-century and 20th-century French music and culture. Her book, Music’s Modern Muse: A Life of Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac (University of Rochester Press) has been recently released. She has been featured in prestigious concert series in major cities, including the Tuesday Matinees Series (Merkin Concert Hall, NYC), the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts (Chicago) and the Fondation Singer-Polignac (Paris). Her concerts have been broadcast on WQXR and WNYC (New York) and National Public Radio. She has performed at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Waterloo, Delta, and Nancy summer festivals, and has collaborated with the English Chamber Orchestra, sopranos Roberta Peters and Shirley Verrett, the Meridian String Quartet, and members of the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Sylvia Kahan earned degrees in Music from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Michigan State University, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and continued her piano studies with distinguished artist Richard Goode.

JANET PRANSCHKE was a national finalist with the Metropolitan Opera, and a winner in the Munich International Voice Competition and the Liederkranz Foundation Competition. She serves on the voice faculties at the College of Staten Island, CUNY and Wagner College, and maintains private voice studios in Manhattan and Staten Island.

OLIVIER FLUCHAIRE performs on a rare Tomaso Carcassi violin dated 1751 throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States and is currently a doctoral candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center. He serves on the music faculties of the College of Staten Island and the Brooklyn/Queens Conservatory’s Professional Division.

JAMES HOPKINS is a violist, a tenor, and a Certified Fund Raising Executive. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied viola with Francis Tursi and voice with Jon Maloy. He currently serves as Director of Development for The English-Speaking Union of the United States.

JIEUN CECILIA KIM was born in Seoul, Korea. She began piano study at age five, but, encouraged by her mother, switched to the cello at age nine. Cecilia Kim has recently moved to Staten Island, and performs regularly in the New York area.

Going above and beyond CSI President celebrates some of the college’s best and brightest at the 2003 Convocation

College of Staten Island President Marlene Springer treated the 375 attendees at the college’s 2003 Convocation in the Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre to a showcase of some of the college’s achievements, and profiles of some members of the CSI community who have gone above and beyond over the past year.

EliotBudDr. Springer began her 10th annual Convocation address on a light note by turning the spotlight on Bud, the College’s goose chasing dog, with a humorous video showing the canine in action, while receiving some “coaching” tips from her own dog, Eliot. The two pups even made a guest appearance on stage.

President Springer highlighted some of the College’s many accomplishments over the past year, such as the approval of the CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies and the inauguration of the CSI Staten Island Project, as well as some things to come, such as the opening of a small high school on campus, which is scheduled for fall 2004.

The President also profiled the accomplishments of five CSI students, who are examples of dedication to their studies, and to the community: Elie Jarrouge, Vanessa Leigh DeBello, Dana Flores, Kristine Gansico, and Emmanuel Fallah. The Convocation turned sombre, as Fallah, a CSI nursing student and Registered Nurse, who is originally from Liberia, recalled his struggles in his native country during the Liberian civil war, which included the arrest of a nurse who, in her last words to him, urged him to become a nurse so that he might take her place in the profession.

After Fallah’s moving speech, the audience also had the opportunity to preview a CSI video segment that will air on the National College Review program on the E! Entertainment channel.

Summing up the state of the College, President Springer told the story of a people who live in Ladakh in North India. According to Dr. Springer, the Ladakhis live with a high level of co-existence and spiritual enlightenment by experiencing the world through a fusion of ‘heart’ and ‘mind’, focusing on wisdom and compassion as inseparable components of human existence.

Dr. Springer closed on a personal note. While in Cambodia, she told the audience of the cellular phone call she made to her daughter on her birthday, saying that technology let her do that — but it was the heart and mind that made her want to do it.

Before exiting the theater to conversations and refreshments, Dr. Springer urged the attendees to celebrate their “hearts and minds” in this increasingly technological age.

CSI alumni, faculty reunite

Former students, faculty and friends reunite at the College of Staten Island’s Willowbrook campus for a day of learning, networking and fun.

CSI’s third annual Alumni Day honors the classes of 1973 and 1978, on their 30th and 25th anniversaries respectively.

On Saturday October 25, during a day that starts with coffee and ends with a luncheon, CSI faculty will present six compelling programs that focus on war, history, health science, transportation, pop culture, and personal growth.

“Confronting the War Machine: Draft Resistance during the Vietnam War.” Michael Foley discusses his recent book that tells the story of draft resistance, the cutting edge of the antiwar movement at the height of the war’s escalation. Unlike draft dodgers, who left the country or manipulated deferments, draft resisters openly defied draft laws by turning in their draft cards and refusing induction.

“New York, Year by Year, A Chronology of the Great Metropolis.” Jeffrey Kroessler discusses his recent book, named Best of Reference by the New York Public Library, highlighting the significant, memorable, and interesting events in the city’s long history, from Giovanni da Verrazano’s discovery of the harbor in 1524 through the tragic events of 2001.

Touring the Tomato and Other Macromolecular Tales. Ruth Stark discusses how plants as well as animals can fall victim to disease, and how the outer skin of fruits and vegetables form their first line of defense. She continues by discussing how CSI researchers seek an in-depth
understanding this plant protection and it relevance to crop protection, and implications for new waterproofing materials.

Transportation: Where Are We Going and How Are We Going to Get There? Jonathan R. Peters and Cameron Gordon discuss recent transportation trends, urban planning, regional development, traffic congestion, and energy consumption.

“Emergency Broadcasting and 1930s American Radio.” Edward D. Miller discusses his book and how new media are changed by commercialization. He looks at the rise of free-form and underground FM radio in the late 1960s as a way to explain the recent–and seemingly unprecedented–popularization of the Internet via the World Wide Web.

Staying Alive: Approaching Life with Wit, Wisdom, and Witality. Irene Deitch examines how we confront challenges that often block our growth and well-being; apply psychological principles that enable us to cope with change, crisis, and calories; develop personal strategies designed to enhance our quality of life.

CSI’s Alumni Day begins Saturday October 25 at the college’s Center for the Arts with registration and coffee at 9:15 a.m., presentations at 10:00 a.m., and a Celebration of Excellence Luncheon at 12:15 p.m.

After the luncheon, retired faculty and staff, lead by Peter Spiridon and Stamos Zades, reunite to dedicate a tree in memory of Walter Willig, the first president of Staten Island Community College.

Reservations for CSI’s Alumni Day 2003 are required. The day is free for retired faculty and $20 for everyone else.

For additional information about Alumni Day, or to make reservations, contact CSI’s alumni office at 718-982-2290.

CSI dedicates profound new memorial Two girders from Ground Zero evoke the stance of the destroyed towers

A new memorial to those killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will be dedicated at the College of Staten Island next week. CSI’s tribute brings remnants of the doomed towers to the campus for a sobering and stirring remembrance.

On the two-year anniversary, CSI will dedicate two girders from the World Trade Center that have recently been installed in the college’s Memorial Garden. The garden, which was dedicated last year, includes three smaller monuments with messages from the college staff and students.

The ten-foot-tall rusted and bent girders from Ground Zero create an eerie yet provocative stance that evokes the image of New York City’s once unique skyline. The sight of the girders is profound and elicits a powerful swell of emotions from those who spend time in the garden reflecting, as well as those who merely walk past.

James Molinaro, Staten Island Borough President
Marlene Springer, CSI President
Shereen Kandil, CSI Student Government President
Timothy Gray, Professor

CSI Memorial Garden Dedication

Thursday, September 11, 2003
2:30 p.m.

College of Staten Island
2800 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10314

In addition to the outdoor dedication, counselors will be available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the college’s Campus Center, and the Prayer and Meditation room will remain open all day. Dr. David Campbell, counselor, will lead a conversation to reflect on and discuss the effects of September 11th on our lives in the Green Dolphin Lounge at 1:30 p.m.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You are invited to send a reporter and/or camera crew. If you plan to attend or send a representative, please contact Ken Bach at 718-982-2328 to make arrangements or for more information.

The Martians are Coming!

On August 27, 2003, the planet Mars will be 34,646,418 miles from Earth – the closest it has been in more than 73,000 years. Mars will be brighter than Jupiter and all the stars in the sky – a red planet 8 times brighter than normal.

Celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime planetary opposition with Mars: A Close Encounter, hosted by NYC’s most sophisticated public observatory.

Irving Robbins, director, and Keith Rowan, astrophysical technician of the Astrophysical Observatory of the College of Staten Island.

* $10 Admission, $5 for kids ages 6-12
* enjoy a fact-filled multi-media presentation about Mars by expert astronomers
* meet members of the American Association of Amateur Astronomers (AAAA) and view celestial objects through their field telescopes
* explore exhibits from NASA on space technology, space food, and the Space Station
* enjoy a children’s activity zone featuring crafts, coloring, and other child-centric activities
* mingle with Athena Mars Rover Project members
* view Mars through the main telescope of CSI’s Astrophysical Observatory
* savor Martian delicacies, view Martian movies, and browse Martian souvenirs

Wednesday, August 27, 2003, 8:30 p.m.

Ongoing: exhibits, refreshments and programming in CFA
8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. check-in and registration
9 p.m. – 9:45 p.m. presentation: About Mars
10 p.m.– 10:45 p.m. repeat of presentation
10 p.m. – Midnight observatory and field telescope viewings

College of Staten Island Center for the Arts
2800 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island NY 10314

Mars: A Close Encounter is presented by the CSI Foundation. For more information on attending the event, call the College of Staten Island Advancement Office at 718-982-2365. Event sponsors include Coca Cola, Con Edison, Northfield Savings Bank, PerfectHealth, and SI Bank & Trust.

EDITOR’S NOTE: You are invited to send a reporter and/or camera crew. If you plan to attend or send a representative, please contact Ken Bach at 718-982-2328 to make arrangements or for more information.

The summer of science at CSI CSI’s national research reputation attracts students for ten weeks of hands-on investigations in the college’s state of the art laboratories

The National Science Foundation (NSF) annually funds summer research opportunities for undergraduate students through its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. This is the third consecutive year that the College of Staten Island has been an NSF-sponsored REU site for students seeking to build their hands-on research skills in the study of polymers and biopolymers.

The NSF-sponsored REU program is a winning opportunity for highly motivated students who are not afraid of hard work and want to break new ground for advances in science and technology. This year, a dozen students from across the country get to work closely with CSI faculty, experiencing first-hand how basic research is carried out, as well as its importance.

At CSI, these students fulfill critical roles in the faculty members’ research teams, build impressive content for their resumes, establish prestigious contacts, and can become coauthors on published research reports in international journals.

For instance, Allen Fung, a freshman from Long Island University (LIU) in Brooklyn, is working with chemistry professor Ruth Stark. Stark is co-director of the college’s REU program this year, and with help from Fung, she is examining a species of potato from Israel which suffers from “hard-to-cook syndrome.”

“When these potatoes are cooked,” Fung said, “they’re very hard, and instead of mashing them, you have to smash them, with a hammer.” Fung and Stark will be using CSI’s Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometers to track down the biochemical molecules that create this particular tuber’s troubles.

Professor Stark, a veteran researcher at CSI, recently received funding from New York State’s Gen*NY*sis (Generating Employment for New York Science) program to create and direct the college’s CUNY Institute of Macromolecular Assemblies, which will undertake research and education related to the underlying causes of plant and animal diseases.

Dr. Ruth Stark“I think the purpose of the [REU] program is to give the students a concrete picture, as well as an intangible flavor, of what it is like to do science, not just learn science,” commented Stark, noting that for budding scientists, it is “important to get into the lab and see if this activity excites you.”

It is this hands-on experience with mentors in the laboratories at CSI that will give students “a real sense of whether or not they want to do this as a career, and to discover new things in the way that scientists do,” continued Stark.

The REU program also reinforces the importance of collaboration with fellow scientists according to Stark, because it “allows students to not only present their results, but to ask questions of others’ results. Since there is no college in the country where chemistry majors are a big majority, getting together like this is really quite marvelous.”

Another student, Raj Vasnani, originally from Chicago, will be a junior this fall at Duke University in North Carolina. He is summering at CSI because he wanted to do “something more productive than earn traditional summer school credits.”

Vasnani decided to pass on Columbia University’s REU program, New York City’s only other REU site offering chemistry research, saying that he finds CSI’s program more suited to his interests. Calling Columbia’s program “the chemistry of engineering,” Vasnani is excited about studying at CSI because he will be investigating “the chemistry of life.”

Working in the lab with chemistry professor Shuiqin Zhou, Vasnani is eager to elucidate the macromolecular structure of polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates made up of sugar molecules) by analyzing how these structures scatter monochromatic light. While out of the lab, Vasnani is eager to discover the culture of New York City.

Heading farther south, Clare V. LeFave, a chemistry major with an emphasis in biochemistry at Eckerd College in Florida, comes to CSI as a veteran of the REU program, knowing that undergraduate research is often a criterion that graduate schools use to determine who will be accepted into their programs.

Last year, LeFave participated in an REU program at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. This year, she broadens her REU experience at CSI by working with chemistry professor Chwen-Yang Shew to develop computer modeling programs that may explain the structure of membrane proteins in biological cells. Moreover, the results of this modeling may also be applied to the movement of viruses and their interactions with cells.

The opportunity to build their resumes and participate in important research is not just for the out-of-towners. Local students know how to seize the opportunity as well.

Franklin Bright, a native of Massachusetts, will be a senior at Wagner College on Grymes Hill this fall semester. Bright, a biology major and one of three captains of the college’s awarding winning football team the Seahawks, attends Wagner on an athletics scholarship.

This “jolting” defensive tackle brings more to the gridiron than a knack for gaining possession of the fabled pigskin for his team; he has his sights set on graduate school and attaining his Ph.D.

Bright, working at CSI with biology professor Valerie Pierce studying cell membrane permeability, is confident that the research experience available to him “down the road” at CSI will give him the edge he needs to succeed.

Professor Pierce was recently awarded a Merck/AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Undergraduate Science Research Program (USRP) grant and as Principal Investigator, she is engaging undergraduates in research to synthesize unique nanomaterials.

Undergraduates from CSI are also taking advantage of this year’s REU program.

For example, Hanako Hirose grew up in a household of medical doctors in Tokyo, Japan. She received her B.A. in sociology from Beloit College in Wisconsin and spent three years working on Wall Street as a financial recruiter.

Hirose then decided that it was time to change professions, and that meant returning for another undergraduate degree. She contemplated attending Brooklyn College and Hunter, but “didn’t like their campuses.”

Her boyfriend, Robert P. Pitera, a 1985 CSI graduate who is now a medical doctor specializing in mesotherapy and recently opened a private practice on Park Avenue in NYC, gave Hirose some encouraging words about how CSI prepared him for medical school. Hirose, a resident of the Huguenot section of Staten Island during the academic year, decided to attend CSI with a music major and chemistry minor.

Like Bright, she knows that working with CSI’s nationally recognized faculty will give her an edge to succeed when it comes time to enter the workforce or attend graduate school.

After a full day of research work, students and mentors also have many opportunities to discuss their work, their lives, and the world. Seminars, lunch meetings, and social functions have been scheduled throughout the ten week REU program to bolster the interaction among undergraduates, faculty, and research professionals.

Student stipends and lodging are sponsored directly by the NSF. This year, students are living in the dormitories at Wagner College.

Professor Stark noted the possibility of “a unique collaboration with CSI’s Discovery Institute – they [high school students] may attend our interim oral presentations in early July, and we [REU students] may help judge their [research] posters in late July.” Stark stressed that these arrangements are still tentative.

CSI’s REU program culminates with a poster symposium of research results on August 7 in CSI’s Library rotunda.

CSI leads the way in preparing teachers 98 percent of students pass state licensing exams

Nearly 17,000 students took one or both of the examinations for teacher certification in New York State in the 2001-2002 academic year. These tests include the Liberal Arts and Science Test (LAST) and the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written.

While almost all of the public and private colleges preparing students to be teachers met the state’s requirement that at least 80 percent of the students taking the exams pass them, a few institutions have attained perfect, or near-perfect pass rates.

The College of Staten Island (CSI), a long-time leader in teacher education was ranked best in The City University of New York (CUNY) with 98 percent of CSI students passing both exams according to State Education Department data released June 10, 2003.

Other leading colleges where students passed both exams include Fordham (with a 100 percent pass rate), Columbia (with a 99 percent pass rate), and New York University (NYU; with a 98 percent pass rate).

“We are justly proud of the fact that our CSI students, who pay a public school tuition, can compete so successfully,” said CSI President Marlene Springer.

Some of the above information was adapted from reports by the NY Post and the NY Times.

CSI professor wins Guggenheim

Zoe Beloff, an adjunct professor with the College of Staten Island’s recently formed department of Media Culture, was named a Guggenheim Fellow in the 2003 competition.

Beloff joins an elite group of CSI professors who have earned this distinction: Rafael Herrera, assistant professor of mathematics; Sarah Schulman, assistant professor of English; Patricia Passlof, professor of art; George F. Custen, professor of communications; Ira Shor, associate professor of English; and Phil Niblock, professor of performing and creative arts.

Guggenheim Fellows are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. The new Fellows, which were announced by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, include writers, painters, sculptors, photographers, film makers, choreographers, physical and biological scientists, social scientists, and scholars in the humanities.

Beloff, a Fellowship winner for 2003 was one of 184 awardees who were selected from over 3,200 applicants for awards totaling $6,750,000 according to the Guggenheim Foundation. The Foundation grants these awards based on recommendations from hundreds of expert advisors, which are approved by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Beloff’s work includes a variety of cinematic imagery, film, stereoscopic projection performance, and interactive media. She will use her Guggenheim funding on a 3D video installation entitled “The Ideoplastic Materialization of Eva C,” which will be shot at the MCA studio at City College of New York, where Beloff is also an adjunct professor. The video crew will be comprised of CCNY film students and alumni.

“It’s based on a true story about a medium who lived in Paris in the early 1900s and was investigated by a number of famous doctors and scientists,” said Beloff. “Many photographs of her séances were taken. I will use these as an inspiration to conjure up the séances.”

As an artist Beloff considers herself as an heir to the 19th century mediums whose materialization séances evoke unconscious desires in a theatrical fashion.

Her work has been exhibited internationally at such venues as MoMA, The New York Film Festival, the Rotterdam Film festival, the Pacific Film Archives, and the Pompidou Center. Her first interactive video installation, “The Influencing Machine of Miss Natalijaa A,” was exhibited in Dusseldorf and the ZKM in Karlsruhe, both in Germany, in fall 2002.

Recently, Beloff has been presenting “Shadow Land or Light From the Other Side,” a stereoscopic film based on the life of the 19th century medium Elizabeth D’Espérance, and “Claire and Don in Slumberland,” in New York and around the United States.

Raised in Scotland where she studied painting and art history at Edinburgh University and College of Art, she moved to New York in 1980 and earned an MFA in Film from Columbia University in 1983.

She has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships by foundations and organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts (co-recipient with John Cale); the New York State Council for the Arts; The Jerome Foundations, Inc.; The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts; Art Matters, Inc.; The New York Foundation for the Arts; and The Applebaum-Kahn Foundation.

Beloff is a three-time recipient of the Experimental Television Center’s Finishing Funds Award (1996, 2000, 2002). She won the Best Multimedia Project, Best Show prize in the 1998 Apple QuickTime VR competition, and was awarded two residencies (1996, 2000) by Harvestworks Digital Media Arts.

She lives in Manhattan.