Nearly 90 members and guests attended The Language Club of Westchester's 20th Anniversary Gala at the elegant Davenport Club in New Rochelle on Long Island Sound.
Barry Farber, the club's founder, spoke about the dearth of language learning in the United States.Interspersing his talk with bits of humor, he told the following joke: "What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Trilingual. What do you call someone who speaks one language? An American!" Farber went on to say that a great many Americans simply are not interested in learning a foreign language. In this shrinking world of globalization and increasing competition, America is rapidly falling far behind. He commended The Language Club of Westchester for actively promoting the learning and speaking of foreign languages.
Language Club Director Marlene London thanked her colleagues on the Planning Committee for their splendid work: Chairperson Janine Simon, Barbara Burnap, Alex Perlov, Marion Rosley, Lothar Simon, and Edy Wittek.
Alex Perlov (who normally sits at the club's Spanish table) served as Master of Ceremonies and keyboardist, opening with a delightful rendition of "Willkommen" from Cabaret. Alex is a composer and arranger, pianist, organist, choir director, and music educator. A graduate of Duke University, he attended Juilliard and studied with Aaron Copland and the late Leonard Bernstein. His compositions include three musicals and a mass.
Dave Charney (also at the Spanish table) played flamenco guitar while his charming wife Luisa, danced, played castanets, and sang. They have been a professional team for over 40 years, having performed at more than 500 flamenco concerts. Mrs. Charney teaches flamenco in New York City.
Ralph Marino had the audience in the palm of his hand with his wonderful Italian and Neapolitan songs! Ralph was formerly a member of the vocal-instrumental group "The Godfathers," known for 30 years as Westchester's premier singing ensemble. He attended the Manhattan School of Music and earned a Performer's Certificate in singing at the Febbraio School of Music at Trinity College in London, England.
Camille Coppola, founder and Artistic Director of New Rochelle Opera, joined Ralph for some Italian and German pieces. Lecturing in opera throughout the county, she has performed most of the leading roles in the repertoire.
Art Burnap sang German and Japanese songs. Having studied voice in college, Art Burnap has been performing for the last few years in area choruses. He especially enjoys combining language and music and has been a member of The Language Club of Westchester since 1991. Having taught Japanese, ESL, and German in the past, he currently teaches French and Spanish. Art also speaks Russian and some Mandarin.
Myong and Charles De la Motte regaled everyone with a ballroom dance exhibition. They have won first place in twenty-three regional and national ballroom dance competitions. Myong is fluent in Korean and Italian.
Long-time club member Jacqueline Rosay sang a French potpourri. Jacqueline taught French and Spanish at Westchester Community College for many years and also speaks Italian, German, Hebrew, and Yiddish.
Alex and friends concluded the festivities with a couple more songs. It was an evening to remember!