Classical ‘Broadway’ music takes the stage
Monroe Center concert to benefit Hoboken Charter School
by Adriana Rambay Fernández
Reporter staff writer
Oct 14, 2012 | 3796 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
VIOLIST MARTIN ANDERSEN – The Monroe Center is throwing a benefit concert for the Hoboken Charter School on Oct. 21 that will feature the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
VIOLIST MARTIN ANDERSEN – The Monroe Center is throwing a benefit concert for the Hoboken Charter School on Oct. 21 that will feature the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

For the first time in its history, the Monroe Center for the Arts in Hoboken will feature classical music for a performance on Oct. 21 that will benefit the Hoboken Charter School’s music department. A New Jersey Symphony orchestra quartet will perform “Broadway Bound!” a selection of songs from a host of legendary composers arranged for a string quartet.

The Hoboken School of Music, which is also helping with the event, will have their faculty open and close the concert. The event runs from 3:15 to 7 p.m. Tickets cost $30 for the general public.

Classical inspiration

“This is the first time we are doing a classical concert at the Monroe center,” noted Godfrey Pereira, the cultural director for the Monroe Center for the Arts. He has been with the center for more than eight years. “It has never ever been done before.”

Pereira had come up with the inspiration months ago to try something different in the center’s programming. He said, “I wanted to take the Monroe Center in another direction.”

The Monroe Center’s mission is to create an environment that encourages and celebrates community, creativity, and art. Throughout the year the Monroe Center stage plays host to a number of performances put on by three theater companies, along with other acts like comedy shows.
“It is like starting over.” – Sean Gavarny
Pereira enlisted the support of Dr. Rebecca Zarate, artistic director of the Hoboken School of Music, in putting together the concert. They invited the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO), which had a mutual interest in performing in Hudson County.

Led by Music Director Jacques Lacombe, the NJSO performs at seven venues throughout the state including the NJPAC in Newark, and also performed at Carnegie Hall this past May.

The concert on Oct. 21, “Broadway Bound,” will include selections for string quartet that span decades of great musicals and include songs from the Wizard of Oz, West Side Story, the Lion King, and Titanic, among other well-known Broadway tunes. The string quartet members include Violist Martin Andersen, Violinist James Tsao, Cellist Stephen Fang, and Violinist John Connelly.

Fire near music classroom

“In the middle of all [the planning], the Hoboken Charter School burned down,” said Pereira, referring to a Sept. 6 fire that forced the school to move. “So this whole thing turned around, and it became a benefit concert for the school.”

All of the proceeds from the concert will go to help rebuild the music program at the Hoboken Charter School. The fire caused severe damage to their building at 713 Washington St. disrupting the first week of school, resulting in more than a week of cancelled classes. Students were relocated to St. Anne’s School building in nearby Jersey City Heights.

“I am so unbelievably grateful that they are reaching out to us in this way,” said music teacher Sean Gavarny.

The classroom for music instruction was on the second floor next to where the fire started, according to Gavarny, who is in his sixth year of teaching at the charter school. Gavarny teaches music to kindergarten through eighth grade including middle school band, and several band electives such as guitar, world drumming, and song writing. His band program has grown from 10 children to 80 children in the past five years.

“I lost all of my materials,” said Gavarny about the damage done by the fire. He lost guitars, drums, audio equipment, speakers, microphones, and sheet music – a reserve of resources that he had acquired over his years of teaching. Gavarny estimates that the materials and instruments lost amount to $20,000 to $30,000 in value.

“I had an empty classroom,” said Gavarny about returning to teaching after the fire. “I had nothing.”

Without materials Gavarny has had to be creative and resourceful in the classroom. He had children in the world drumming class make homemade instruments. He also brought in guitars from home as well as borrowing one from a friend. Children have shared instruments. He has also had donations from parents.

“It has been very challenging…it is hard to start this year and not have anything,” noted Gavarny. “It is like starting over.”

He said that funds from the benefit will go towards the cost of replenishing instruments, audio equipment, books and other classroom materials.

Additional support

Pereira sought help in planning and putting together the event from the Hoboken School of Music, which also uses the space.

“I could not have done this on my own…it is a collaborative Monroe Center effort,” noted Pereira. “The world of classical music is new to me.”

He also noted the support from Monroe Center owner Hershy Weiss, who thought featuring classical music and supporting the Hoboken Charter School was a great idea.

“I just hope they walk away with a great musical experience,” said Pereira about his expectations for the evening. “If it goes well, classical music will hopefully be a recurring feature for the Monroe Center.”

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra quartet will perform “Broadway Bound” on Oct. 21. Doors open at 3:15 p.m. Tickets for the general public are $30. Tickets for faculty and parents from the Hoboken School of Music and the Hoboken Charter School cost $25. Free wine and cheese will be offered to guests. Parking is free. For more information or tickets, call: (201) 795-5000 ext 200 or email:

Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at

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