CSI’s Oldest Living Alum, Margaret Ricciardi, Donates Painting to the College

Margaret Ricciardi poses with her painting, “Welcome.”

Margaret Ricciardi, who at 107 is the College’s oldest living alumna, donated “Welcome,” an oil on canvas painting completed in 2016, to CSI in an unveiling ceremony, last Wednesday on the Willowbrook campus.

The small gathering included CSI President William J. Fritz and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost Michael Parrish; one of Ricciardi’s mentors, Associate Professor of Art Marianne Weil; as well as members of Ricciardi’s family and CSI staff.

In her remarks, Ms. Ricciardi expressed her desire to share the work with students, faculty, and visitors so they will feel welcomed by all the good things CSI has to offer.

In 1986, Ms. Ricciardi earned her Bachelor’s in Art from CSI at age 72. Beyond the donation of her beautiful painting, she has given back to CSI in a number of ways. Throughout her time at the College, younger students have often looked up to her for advice and guidance, and Ms. Ricciardi continues to help them through the Margaret and Frank Ricciardi Scholarship, which allows financially disadvantaged students who are taking Italian language classes to study in Italy. Additionally, she provides funding for the annual Margaret Ricciardi Commencement Award in Studio Art for a graduating Studio Art major.

In recognition of her many years of dedication to the College, Ms. Ricciardi received an Honorary Doctoral degree from the College in 2017.

In celebration of Ms. Ricciardi’s 100th birthday in 2014, a retrospective exhibition of her paintings and sculptures was held at the Gregg Gallery at the National Arts Club in Manhattan. Assistant Professor Weil served as curator.

By Terry Mares and Jennifer Lynch

Verene Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Chris Verene

Chris Verene, Associate Professor of Photography at the College of Staten Island, has received a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2021.

According to the organization, “The Foundation has awarded Fellowships this year to 184 American and Canadian scientists, scholars in the social sciences and humanities, and writers and artists of all kinds, selected from almost 3,000 applicants. Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted nearly $400 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are more than 125 Nobel laureates, members of all the national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award, and other internationally recognized honors. In 2020 alone, four Fellows were awarded Nobel Prizes and five won Pulitzer Prizes.”

By Editor

Visiting Artist Lecture

Join us for a Visiting Artist Workshop: “Photographer Rachael Papo – Public Lecture” on Monday, Mar. 9 in the Center for the Arts (Building 1P), Room 208 from 2:30pm to 4:00pm.

Rachel Papo will present about her life and work. She was born in 1970 in Columbus, OH and was raised in Israel. She began photographing as a teenager and attended a renowned fine-arts high school in Haifa, Israel. At age 18, she served in the Israeli Air Force as a photographer. She earned a BFA in Fine Arts from Ohio State University (1991-1996), and an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City (2002-2005). Rachel’s photographs are included in numerous public and private collections, and have been exhibited and published worldwide. She is represented by ClampArt Gallery in New York City, and has published two monographs, Serial No. 3817131, and Homeschooled. This is a CLUE event.

If you have any questions, please contact CSI Photography Program Coordinator, Prof. Chris Verene:  chris.verene@csi.cuny.edu.

By the Division of Academic Affairs

Student Art Gallery Reception

The Photography Club of the College of Staten Island presents Cameraless/Illusions with an Opening Reception today, Thursday, Mar. 5, in the Center for the Arts Student Art Gallery (Building 1P, Room 118) from 3:30pm to 4:30pm.

This exhibition is curated and mounted entirely by the student members of The Photography Club, and can also be viewed during gallery hours: Mondays through Thursdays from noon to 4:00pm. Please call ahead for access during these hours: 718.982.2520 

For any questions, please contact The Photography Club Faculty Advisor, Professor Chris Verene:  chris.verene@csi.cuny.edu.

By the Division of Academic Affairs

I Like Feminism and Feminism Likes me

Please join us on Tuesday, Mar. 10 at 2:45pm for the 3:00pm live performance of I Like Feminism and Feminism Likes me at the Center for the Arts Art Gallery of the College of Staten Island (Building 1P, Room 112). The performance is free, but seating is limited to a first come, first served basis. CLUE credit is available.

The performance is the first episode in a series of events associated with the exhibition I Like Feminism and Feminism Likes me with Swedish artist Oskar Korsár. The project reimagines a 1974 encounter—a clash—between the charismatic German artist Joseph Beuys and a group of 32 feminist artists, curators, and critics over breakfast at the Stanhope Hotel. The individual male artist-leader confronted the collective, multi-voiced dissonance of these rebellious women. Both sides were involved in remaking the world, but in forms barely recognizable to each other. Korsár explores the uneven ways in which this event has been recorded in history, probes the different approaches to art and politics, and presents a hybrid and carnivalesque series of objects, drawings, and actions including documentation in film and photography by CSI students.

This project enjoys the support of IASPIS (Swedish Art Grant Committee). 

Exhibition: Thursday, Mar. 12 to Saturday, May 9.

Opening reception: Thursday, Mar. 12 in Building 1P, Room 112 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm

By Siona Wilson, PhD

Young Talent on Display at Fourth Annual CSI Performance Competition for Strings

Left to Right, Dr. Dan Auerbach, Alexandra Cuevas, Alejandro Cuevas, Ricky Chui, Jake Kitchen, Lila Bruschi, Prof. Edward Brown. Photo credit: Rolland Smith

Young orchestra musicians from around Staten Island traveled to the College of Staten Island (CSI) for the fourth annual CSI Performance Competition for Strings. The only competition of its kind on Staten Island, the event featured the maturing musical talents of five high school students. This performance opportunity is the concept of Dr. Dan Auerbach, “These young people in the CSI competition show just what can happen if we can keep a young person’s dream alive. My goal is to focus much-deserved attention on the wonderful musical talent in Staten Island and also on the hard work of area music teachers.”

The competition celebrates the dedicated efforts of the students and their teachers, and supports middle school and high school strings students who are Staten Island residents.

The adjudicators for this year’s competition were Dr. Dan Auerbach and Professor Edward Brown, both of the CSI Music Program of the Department of Performing and Creative Arts.

The talented student-performers included Lila Bruschi, student of Jesse Mills; Alexandra and Alejandro Cuevas, students of Yvette Wheatley; Jake Kitchen, student of Page Silverman; and Ricky Chui, student of Sanchie Bobrow.

Winners in the high school division are as follows:

Ricky Chui, first-place winner (sharing with Jake Kitchen), performed Bruch’s romance for viola and orchestra; Jake Kitchen, first-place winner (sharing with Ricky Chui), performed Rebecca Clarke’s viola sonata; and third-place winner, Lila Bruschi, performed Adagio and Presto from Bach’s Sonata No. 1 for solo violin. Honorable mentions were given to Alexandra and Alejandro Cuevas.

This year’s competition sponsors were:

Rustic Music Center, the Music Program of the CSI Department of Performing and Creative Arts, the CSI Administration, and an anonymous donor.

The upcoming May 17 orchestra concert at 3:00pm at the CSI Center for the Arts Springer Concert Hall will feature the middle school winner of the previous year’s competition, Noshi Norris, performing Bach’s A Minor Violin Concerto. In addition, the concert will feature various classical favorites. The orchestra will be joined by professional musicians from the New York area, who have both coached the kids during the semester and will perform with them side-by-side.

Left to Right: [Competition Winners with Judges] [ photo credit: Rolland Smith]

Dr. Dan Auerbach, Alexandra Cuevas, Alejandro Cuevas, Ricky Chui, Jake Kitchen, Lila Bruschi, Prof. Edward Brown

Music Hour: Composers Now

The Music Program of the Department of Performing and Creative Arts presents a Music Hour: “Composers Now” on Tuesday, Feb. 25 in the Center for the Arts (Building 1P) Recital Hall at 3:00pm. More information is available online.

By the Division of Academic Affairs

CSI Orchestra Performs with SI Philharmonic and Rutgers String Quartet

Dan Auerbach playing violin and Maria Zakharycheva '19, soprano, with James Minenna conducting at the CSI Orchestra performance.

The College of Staten Island (CSI) Orchestra performed their spring fundraiser concert at the Springer Concert Hall at CSI. Joined by musicians from the Staten Island Philharmonic, as well as the Rutgers String Quartet, the performance celebrated the unique collaboration between CSI and Curtis High School, where students receive college credit through the College Now program. Since its inception, the orchestra has grown to include other Staten Island area schools, as well as various community members. The co-directors include CSI Professor Dan Auerbach and Curtis High School representative James Minenna.

“The College is very proud of the collaboration represented by Dan Auerbach and James Minenna, who work with so many talented local high school musicians to produce the CSI Orchestra concert series on campus.  The fruitfulness of this collaboration was fully in evidence at the recent spring concert, where the young musicians successfully tackled a varied and interesting program.  CSI looks forward to the continuation of this collaboration and these wonderful concerts,” noted CSI Provost Gary Reichard, PhD, who attended the performance.

The Orchestra performed a diverse selection of classical repertoire, including the lamenting G Minor symphony No. 40 by Mozart, the lighthearted “Spring” from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, as well as two baroque selections: Bach’s Erbarme Dich from the St. Matthew Passion, with CSI student soloist Maria Zakharycheva ‘19, as well as a concerto grosso by Geminiani with the Rutgers String Quartet.

The concert was made possible by the Frank & Lydia Bergen Foundation through a generous grant, which enabled the students to work with professional musicians from the Staten Island Philharmonic, as well as rehearse with members of the Rutgers String Quartet.

“Such dedication on the part of both the professional musicians and students is what enabled the students to be able to master the difficult repertoire,” commented Auerbach.

Additional sponsorship came from Valpak of Staten Island and Greater Brooklyn. This company has been a generous contributor, supporting the Strings Competition at CSI, bringing talented Staten Island high school and middle school students on campus for a chance to win prize money and a guest solo spot with the orchestra. As this was a fundraiser event, the Orchestra is grateful to the many community members, staff, faculty, and generous parents who purchased tickets, thereby giving financial support and helping to fund future concerts at CSI.

Professional musicians gather after the concert.

Zakharycheva ‘19, a voice student of Professor Elena Heimur, performed an elegant and lyrical rendition of Bach’s famous aria, Erbarme Dich, accompanied by orchestra co-director Auerbach, and alongside concertmaster Isabel Bruschi, who provided the additional solo violin part.

Auerbach and Minenna agreed that, “The orchestra did a wonderful job of maintaining a subordinate role to the soprano soloist.”

Auerbach performed “Spring” from The Four Seasons, guiding the orchestra through this programmatic work and ensuring that students played in a stylistically authentic manner. Curtis High School student soloist, Skivon Hardy, concluded the concert with My Shot! From Hamilton. Additional selections in the program included a Geminiani concerto grosso with the Rutgers String Quartet.

“The orchestra ably supported the quartet, conversing with them in dialogue fashion, demonstrating their knowledge of proper performance practice. All throughout the concert, the professional musicians made sure to aid the students without overshadowing them. This was also the case in the first work on the program, Mozart’s G Minor symphony, No. 40. That the students were able to tackle some of the more demanding passage work is a testament to the level of professionalism exhibited by students and professionals alike,” said Auerbach.

The CSI Orchestra plans to continue collaborating with professional musicians after this initial successful partnership. Looking forward to the next concert, Auerbach plans to expose students to the diverse world of 20th century music, as well as enable students to experience diverse programming in the same vein as noted above. The fall 2017 CSI Orchestra concert on December 10 will feature an inaugural performance by the winners of the CSI Performance Competition for Strings, an annual event initiated by Auerbach to help support Staten Island middle and high school string students and their teachers.