Well we did it again! The fourth annual benefit concert for the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee (CSLCC) and Educhat was sold out as more than 300 people joined us at the former Wagar High School on Parkhaven to hear the Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Milo and outstanding young singers Alexandra Cohen and Nicole Raviv.
Funds raised from A Bouquet of Classics and Other Fun Music will go towards the CSLCC’s Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program and Educhat, the volunteer organization headed by Shelley Schecter which has spearheaded efforts in Côte Saint-Luc and elsewhere. There are many feral cats in the community. The CSLCC’s team of volunteers sets out to trap as many as possible, have them sterilized and then adopted or returned to the spot where they were originally found. The committee has also rescued a number of kittens and found homes for them. Our city also has a cat licensing bylaw.
As the city councillor responsible for Animal Protection, I was proud to be the main organizer of the event. I thank Councillor Sam Goldbloom – like me a true cat lover- for his support. Mayor Anthony Housefather and Councillors Glenn J. Nashen, Ruth Kovac, Mitchell Brownstein and Allan J. Levine were all on hand. Since I launched the CLSCC five years ago, the mayor and council have been 100 percent behind my initiative.
On this night we honoured our treasurer Ruth Kleinman, Finance Administrative secretary Elizabeth Ruhry and accounting agent Maria Picciuto for the support they have given the committee. In addition, they have set a wonderful example for others to follow by feeding a homeless cat outside the library on a daily basis. They have even named him “Eli.” Stated Ms. Kleinman: “We are just supporting the mission of the Cats Committee. The three of us have cats of our own. My job is to manage the budget. Elizabeth and Maria go out of their way to help.”
Nutrience Pet Food by Hagen and D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum were our sponsors. Birnbaum, whom I have known for many decades, joined us for the event with his press attaché Christopher Savard. On stage he presented Sam and I with a $500 cheque for the committee and rightly acknowledged the excellent job his Agriculture Minister Pierre Paradis is doing in regard to animal protection.
The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra (MWSO) was founded in 2006 by conductor Milo and his wife Lucy Ravinsky. This one of a kind orchestra was formed when it was discovered that a great pool of professional musicians, recently immigrated to Montreal, had no opportunity to make use of their valuable talent in their new home. The MWSO was created, not only to provide these new Canadians with the opportunity to engage in their main passion; making beautiful music in an orchestral setting, but to give them back the professional dignity they had enjoyed in their homelands and most especially, to share their wonderful talents with the music lovers of Montreal.
The MWSO is composed of 55 musicians: about 80 percent of its members are from 15 countries around the world, while the remaining 20 percent are natives of Montreal who successfully facilitated the integration of the newcomers. To date, the orchestra has entertained Montreal audiences with over 30 performances, including several benefit concerts as well as having produced several recordings. The orchestra has also been selected as the subject of four documentary films. They have been rehearsing at Côte Saint-Luc City Hall for many years and as part of the arrangement, they agree to perform a free concert once a year.
Joseph Milo and his team were nothing less than outstanding. You could see the smiles on everyone`s face in the audience as they hung on to every tune. There was a wonderful balance of music, from classics to Broadway. This included the William Tell Overture, Moon River, music from Star Wars and the “Let it Go” theme from the Disney blockbuster Frozen. By popular demand they brought back two favorites from our previous shows—The Typewriter (in which a musician actually plays the typewriter as an instrument) and a cats duet by Raviv and Anna Levitina.
Alexandra Cohen, who has been performing in musical theatre since she was six years old, and acting in film, TV, and radio productions, sang “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” from the musical Evita, and “Being Alive” from the musical Company. See the video clip here or below.
Alexandra is frequently invited to sing the national anthem at many events including Cote Saint Luc’s Canada Day celebrations. Alexandra has won the title of Top Female Triple Threat performer at the Show Choir Canada National Championships. As a member of the Cote Saint-Luc Cats Committee, Alexandra produced a film about the Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program. She has brought this film to many elementary schools to teach children about responsible pet ownership. Last year she was recognized as Cote Saint-Luc’s Youth Volunteer of the Year. She is currently in her second year studying health sciences at Marianopolis College, where she created and directs a group called Singers for a Cause.
Nicole Raviv is a singer-songwriter, actress and dancer. She was a child actor in the touring cast of The Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre and is a recent graduate of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Recent New York theatre credits include The Butterfly's Day (Off-Broadway), Be Our Guest (Off-Broadway), and Crossf8- A New Musical. Nicole has made TV appearances on The Good Wife and The Dr. Oz Show, and is currently working on her own EP album as a recording artist with producer Chris Young. She sang I Feel Pretty (West Side Story), On My Own (Les Misérables) and I Could Have Danced (My Fair Lady) as well as the duet.
Now for a few thank yous. To Shelley Schecter, Diane Liebling and Barbara Hilliker who lead the charge in terms of trapping and fostering; Alvin Fishman, Regine Banon, Harold Cammy, Lisa Milner, Ruth Farrugia and Mauricio Giobbi from the city who really steered the ship for us; Alexandra Cohen, who besides her performance worked on the script, hosted the evening and determined our sound needs; Michel Leblanc whose work on the sound and lighting was invaluable; the Volunteer Citizens on Patrol, who kept law and order; and committee member Fern Collier-Pereira and her group whose bake sale raised almost $400 for Educhat.