Library Art Gallery Renamed The Karen And Ed Adler Gallery

The Port Washington Public Library (PWPL) has renamed the art gallery for Karen and Ed Adler in recognition of their continued and generous financial support of the library and their special interest in the arts.

Ed Adler is the mayor of Sands Point and one of the founding board members of the Port Washington Library Foundation. He and his wife, Karen, have been generous contributors to the foundation’s endowment and to the new Children’s Library campaign. They have been lifelong devotees of the arts as well. Continue reading “Library Art Gallery Renamed The Karen And Ed Adler Gallery”

Weber’s All-County Musician A Standout

Caleb Thomas and his band teacher Elizabeth Andrew (Photo courtesy of the Port Washington Union Free School District)
Caleb Thomas and his band teacher Elizabeth Andrew
(Photo courtesy of the Port Washington Union Free School District)

Weber seventh-grader Caleb Thomas was recently selected for the Nassau Music Educators Association Division III All-County Jazz Band, comprised of select 7th- and 8th-grade jazz musicians from Nassau County.

Making this honor even more special for Caleb is the fact that he is the only drum-set drummer selected from the entire county amid a field comprised exclusively of 8th-grade drummers. The Division III All-County Jazz Band concert will be held at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts’ Hillwood Recital Hall on Jan. 17.

Music Site ‘Plays’ It Forward

Playitforward_111115AThe inkling for, a nonprofit new music sharing website with a twist, came to Steve Mazza when he visited South Africa 10 years ago. The site, which launched in September, is a trend-setter by the definition of the word and allocates money for artists’ albums directly to a charity of their choosing.

Mazza traveled throughout South Africa and taught during a school study-abroad program, getting to know the education system. During Mazza’s time there, he was exposed to many impoverished locals and left with a new perspective on things.

Mazza, 29, is a PhD clinical psychology candidate in his fourth year at Hofstra University. He hopes to graduate and have a practice treating early childhood anxiety disorders as a cognitive-behavioral therapist. The South Salem, NY, native obtained his masters degree in 2012 in developmental psychology from Columbia and his undergrad degree in elementary education at Skidmore College 2007.

“I felt a responsibility; how can I do something to help?” he said. helps artists donate to charity. helps artists donate to charity.

Mazza always liked to volunteer and work with kids. He was a mentor in college, so doing charity work was right up his ally. He had already began recording an album at home, so he thought he could use the money he would make selling his albums, and give it back to an orphanage in South Africa.

The only catch was that he didn’t have any fans or followers of any sort. Mazza asked his friends, family, and people he saw passing by at Hofstra, if they wanted to help. Doing just that, he raised $11,500, selling 1,000 albums in two months before sending all the money to the orphanage. He got his music to reach an audience, the charity benefited greatly and other people felt good about buying his music to help a cause.

Mazza originally started writing and playing music when he was 16. What started out as a hobby, turned into an obsession.

“I just wanted to write songs for girls, but then it became something bigger,” he said.
Mazza made another album and raised another $11,500 for a different charity. He knew he was onto something and figured a website was the best way to help make a bigger positive change. But this was no easy task to take on.

He started selling his albums in 2007 and began the incorporation process in 2010 to get a nonprofit approved in 2014.

“It was a really long process and I was in graduate school the whole time,” Mazza said. “I had to figure out how I would handle all of the incoming donations. They can’t go to my personal account so where do they go? Then how do I create a partnership with charities? I was ignored by a lot of charities for a long time.”

Since the site launched, he has raised $3,000.

“The most difficult part is getting the word out,” Mazza said. “Without a large budget, marketing isn’t really an option.”

All the artists, Mazza himself, and his board of directors, are volunteers with no salary.
“When I was fundraising on my own, I paid for the website to distribute music; iTunes and other similar companies take a big cut of what they make; I’m not doing that,” he said.

There is more than just songwriters/singers on the website. Mazza got word of comedian Charlie Nadler through a friend when Nadler said that he really wanted to get his work out there, but specifically for charity. He didn’t want a commercial site taking some of the profits. Mazza had the exact opportunity Nadler was looking for.

“Anyone who wants to use creative talent to help others should be able to do so without facing obstacles,” Mazza said. “I know there are people out there looking to do the same, they just need to know about it. I’m just trying to get the word out.”

Playitforward was created to facilitate the fundraising process for philanthropic artists.
To buy the albums, there is a minimum donation amount for each. There are also short previews of a track to get the feel for what is being purchased.

“I would really like to help grow the foundation; I want it to flourish,” he said. “My ideas for the future are to have organizations sponsor compilation albums. An album can have several artists help the nonprofit and artist. I am currently in the process of working with Skidmore College to create a student album to sell it to help a local Saratoga charity.”

Check out the Playitforward Facebook page at and Twitter @playitfwdmusic. For more information check out the letter from the founder at

Port Musicians Shine At Carnegie Hall

Christine Ramirez, violin, Glen Head; Ilana Grossman, cello, Dix Hills and Sherry Shi, piano, Sands Point
Christine Ramirez, violin, Glen Head; Ilana Grossman, cello, Dix Hills and Sherry Shi, piano, Sands Point

Celebrating Music Institute of Long Island’s (MILI) 25th year, MILI students, including many from Port Washington, gave an outstanding GALA concert at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on June 25. More than 75 students performed at Weill Recital Hall with pieces ranging from solo performances to quintet chamber music works. The concert was a huge success. Port Washington residents who performed include: Sherry Shi, Nao Fukusa, William and Madeline Simms, Spencer Lane, Justin Loffredo and Caroline Filorimo. Continue reading “Port Musicians Shine At Carnegie Hall”

Four Schreiber HS Musicians Named All-State

From left: Schreiber Principal Ira Pernick, Port Washington Superintendent  of Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooney, music teacher Anthony Pinelli, Soobin Seo, Jonathan Kobrinsky, Jordan Lerner, Andrew Lu, music teacher Mark Brenner, and Director of Creative Arts Kevin Scully (Photo courtesy of the Port Washington School District)
From left: Schreiber Principal Ira Pernick, Port Washington Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooney, music teacher Anthony Pinelli, Soobin Seo, Jonathan Kobrinsky, Jordan Lerner, Andrew Lu, music teacher Mark Brenner, and Director of Creative Arts Kevin Scully (Photo courtesy of the Port Washington School District)

Four outstanding student-musicians from Schreiber High School have been selected to represent the district at the 2015 New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Winter Conference this December. Two were selected to perform and two will serve as alternates. Additionally, one student has been selected for two instruments.

Port Washington School District Director of Creative Arts Kevin Scully congratulated Jonathan Kobrinsky (double bass, alternate-string orchestra), Jordan Lerner (baritone saxophone-jazz ensemble and alto saxophone, alternate-jazz ensemble), Andrew Lu (violin-string orchestra) and Soobin Seo (violin, alternate-string orchestra) on being recognized as top musicians in the state.

Thousands of students auditioned for this honor last spring at Solo and Ensemble Festivals throughout New York State. Students were chosen to participate based on their proficiency scores achieved at these festivals and teacher recommendations. The conference is scheduled for Dec. 3 at the Rochester Convention Center.

NYSSMA is one of the largest and most successful musical organizations in the country. Nearly 5,000 members belong to NYSSMA with approximately 100,000 students participating annually in spring adjudication festivals. NYSSMA offers about 190 workshops and showcases.

10 Years At iSchool Of Music And Art

iSchool students on the Great Wall of China
iSchool students on the Great Wall of China

iSchool of Music and Art is celebrating its 10-year anniversary in Port Washington. The school was founded by co-owners Ken Benshish and Yi Qian. Benshish and Qian created a school with a unique philosophy: teach through inspiration rather than demonstration by giving students a combination of outstanding teachers, small classes, a nurturing environment and peer interaction.

Benshish and Qian own two other iSchools: one in Syosset that they opened in 2008 and the other in Rockville Centre that they opened in 2012. Benshish stresses that their schools are not franchises. They started the schools with a vision that is different from franchise music schools. “Yi and I started these schools. We are not part of a franchise. We own and cofounded all three locations, and we are very proud of that. Our music programs are educational, not music disguised as education. Every student learns to read music at iSchool.”

Ken Benshish, Christian Hill and Yi Qian. Hill plays piano and has been with iSchool since they opened in 2005. Hill is a junior at Schreiber and toured China with iSchool this year.

Benshish and Qian differentiate their school from others because all of their instructors have music degrees and have performed professionally. “All of our teachers have made a living making music,” said Benshish. “They all have music degrees and have an educational background. That makes us unique. Our school is different in the high quality of our teachers from any other music school.”

iSchool of Music and Art was also the first school on Long Island chosen by Steinway to be an educational partner. “We are one of two schools on Long Island that Steinway chose, and Steinway chose us first, to be a educational partner. All of our pianos are Steinways. Our students all play on these pianos. Quality is number one at our school and Steinway is the best. All students are playing on professional equipment. We have four Steinway studios. Piano is by far our most popular instrument.”

Ischool092315AIn addition, the school has two guitar studios and one drum room. Altogether the school has seven studios and two large ensemble rooms for bands. Lessons run from 30 to 90 minutes. “We also have glee club and musical theory for songwriters,” said Benshish. “We have a Music Explorers class for beginners. Even beginners can be put together in a band.”

Students at iSchool were invited to play at Carnegie Hall this year. “Our school was chosen to play at Carnegie Hall. We were actually on their concert series program,” said Benshish. “Other schools pay to play there.”

Ischool092315EiSchool students also traveled to Beijing to perform. Ten students did a 10-day tour of Beijing and performed there every day, said Benshish. “Our all-star band went. We were invited to play in China at the Beijing National Library. They were the first rock band to perform at the Beijing National Library. We did the trip in style. We stayed at the W Hotel in Beijing. We had an English-speaking guide the whole time. We went to all the historic places. The band even did a concert on the Great Wall of China.”

Benshish is passionate about his schools and about music. He even designs and makes “music cards” that are like baseball cards, but they have a musician and their information on it. “I give the cards to the kids and they collect them,” said Benshish.

Benshish is pleased with the school’s Port Washington location. Qian moved to New York in 2004. He lives in Manhasset and was scouting locations for the school 10 years ago and found the location in Port Washington. “I am so glad we picked Port Washington as the birthplace of iSchool. The support of the Port Washington community throughout our 10 years is the key to why iSchool is a success,” said Qian.

Ischool092315D“I equate Port Washington with families who want the best,” said Benshish. “Port strikes a wonderful balance of family-friendly activities with shops and eateries for adults. My favorite event of the year has always been Harborfest because of the art, food and, of course, the music.”

They knew the location Qian found would be a great facility, Banshish continued. “I like spending time in Port and enjoy the community,” said Benshish. “There was a need for a music school here in Port. The public schools are very supportive of the arts but the town lacked a good, high-quality music school.”

Benshish lived in Manhattan for nine years but now lives in Port. “Yi and I are a good mix because I’m a city guy, with a harder edge, Qian has a softer edge,” said Benshish. “We meet in the middle.”

Benshish is originally from Bloomingdale, IL, and Qian is from Shanghai, China. They met in Chicago. Benshish has a Master of Music degree from Chicago Musical College in Chicago and coursework towards a doctorate (DMA) at University of Texas. Qian has a Master of Music degree (MM) from Northwestern University.

iSchool of Music and Art is located at 14 Vanderventer Ave., Suite L4. For more information about their classes go to

Houseboat Musician At Dolphin

(Photo by Ivan Singer)
(Photo by Ivan Singer)

Port Washington-based musician Sal Cataldi will be performing at the Dolphin Bookshop and Café on Friday, Oct. 2, at 8 p.m. An electric and acoustic performance by Spaghetti Eastern Music, the one-man musical project of Cataldi, is part jazz and electronic powered instrumentals and part gentle acoustic vocal music. Cataldi, who lives on a barge in Tom’s Point Marina, released his new CD, Sketches of Spam, recently. The CD was recorded largely on the barge, named Houseboat Garlic Knot. Cataldi has lived in Port Washington since 1996, and on the barge for the past 10 years. Continue reading “Houseboat Musician At Dolphin”

Music Recorded On The Waves

BargeBand081915BSal Cataldi, a musician who lives on a barge in Tom’s Point Marina, released his new CD, Sketches of Spam, recently. The CD was recorded largely on the barge, named Houseboat Garlic Knot by Cataldi’s daughter. Cataldi plays guitars, keyboard, electronics, bass and sings on the CD. Final mastering was done at Parcheesi Recording Studios in Huntington by Grammy-Award winning engineer Bob Stander.

Cataldi has lived in Port Washington since 1996, and on the barge for the last 10 years. “I got divorced, unfortunately, and wanted to stay close to my children in Port Washington,” said Cataldi. “I looked at houses but then saw something about barges and came down and looked. It’s like a house built into a hull. It’s two stories and has two bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, central air. It’s very nice. I can go kayaking from my back deck.” Cataldi’s children went to Port Washington schools. His daughter went to the School of Rock for eight years and learned to play the bass. His daughter is now in college and his son has graduated from college.

Bargeband081915CBefore the recent hurricanes, Sandy and Irene, that hit Long Island, Cataldi says he took all his valuables and irreplaceables and put them in his car and stayed at a friend’s house. “After Irene, I came back and the lights were already on in half the marina. The barge survived.” According to Cataldi, there are about 50 houseboats in the five marinas in Port Washington. “I have great neighbors and the barges are close to each other so you see them. A barge, by definition, doesn’t have propulsion. It stays put. I ride my bike all over Port Washington. I commute so I ride my bike to the train station every day.”

Caltadi has owned his own public relations company since 1988, Cataldi Public Relations, Inc., in Manhattan. According to his company’s website, Cataldi Public Relations has created award-winning publicity, promotions, communications and guerrilla marketing campaigns for some of the world’s best-known consumer products, media and entertainment concerns, including AMC, HBO, Sony Pictures, American Express, Tanqueray Gin, Dewar’s White Label, Alizé, Weider Publishing and The National Audubon Society. “I do guerrilla campaigns like zombie invasions. I created fake billboards in LA for the Society for the Prevention of Celebrity Divorce to promote a bootcamp reality show.”

Bargeband081915ACataldi says he’s gotten a great response to the CD. “This is my first solo CD. I play under the name Spaghetti Eastern Music, which is a play on spaghetti westerns. Living on the waves, living with nature, sneaks into the music. It’s an interesting process to work here on the water,” said Cataldi. “It’s a definite influence on the music. I love the waterfront.” The CD varies in style from song to song; from spare acoustic narrative to funky bebop guitar with some songs reminiscent of bluesy Santana.

Cataldi started playing music when he was a child. He’s lived in Brooklyn and made several albums with different groups. Cataldi plays at local venues including the Port Washington Public Library. He will be playing at Harmony Vineyards in Stony Brook on Aug. 23 at 2 p.m. For more information about Cataldi go to You can buy Sketches of Spam at, iTunes and Amazon.