Many years ago, on a Jewish National Fund (JNF) mission to Israel, our leader Yaacov Perez agreed to make a stop in Ashkelon. Since some of us were from Côte Saint-Luc, we wanted to see for ourselves our twin city in Israel. It was a very special experience.
When war broke out in Israel on October 7, following the horrific Hamas terrorist attack, rockets were fired into the Jewish State and many hit structures in Ashkelon. It is only 13 km north of the Gaza Strip. A story in the Christian Science Monitor notes that since October 7, some 1,300 Hamas rockets have been fired at Ashkelon, with 200 of them falling in the city area. It has been an “absolute miracle” that only two people died under rocket fire, considering that 25,000 of its 158,000 residents have no access to bomb shelters.
A scene of destruction in Ashkelon.
On Sunday, December 10 (2 pm) a Hope and Harmony fundraising concert will take place in tour Greenspon Auditorium to help support the children of Ashkelon during these difficult times so that they can continue with school in this time of war. Performing will be Musica Camerata, headed by my constituents Luis Grinhauz and Berta Rosenohl.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Michael Abramovich, a Côte Saint-Luc resident and saxophonist who asked if I could help promote his sax music program in our community. When we met in person soon after I told him about the dedication of a park named after former Liberal Member of Parliament for Mount Royal Sheila Finestone I had planned.
Michael Abramovich and his saxophone.
Since I had never seen him perform, except for YouTube videos, I offered him a chance to kind of audition for me and perform at the ceremony. He did just that, showing up with own sound system and truly impressing everyone in attendance with his saxophone program performance.
My friend Ted Dranias of Petros Taverna restaurants saw a clip of him and already plans to engage his services.
While Michael works full-time in information technology services, he has a flexible schedule and is excited about performing at any occasion.
Michael was born in Moldova, then part of the former Soviet Union. His first instrument was the mandolin, then guitar, bass guitar, clarinet and finally the saxophone. Playing pop music, the love for jazz started with first vinyl record of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong at age 12.
During the five years Michael resided in Israel, he played in a wedding band and performed as a one-man band, creating a vast background/cocktail saxophone music program that proved successful. In 1995 he immigrated to Canada.
Music, and particularly jazz, remains a driving force for Michael. Over the past 28 years he has never missed a Jazz Festival, meeting jazz legends like Chick Corea, Benny Golson, Lee Konitz, Jimmy Cobb and many others during “This is very inspiring to me,” he said, noting how photos with jazz masters grace the “wall of fame” of his studio.
His first venue as a musician was the old Hippodrome de Montréal (Blue Bonnets), where he performed during events for several years. Here in Montreal he found work in IT to pay the bills.
As a jazz saxophonist, Michael provides enthralling background music with a full band sound for any special event. He brings a completely self-contained and portable sound system, adaptable to any location and setting. He is an impressive entertainer, and solo musician, who can deliver a memorable and enjoyable experience for all types of events.
Michael offers personalized wedding packages with the right pricing, matching the event demands and client preferences. He provides background scores for all wedding-related functions and boasts a repertoire of over six hours of memorized music.
Besides playing saxophone, Michael introduces to his performance EWI (an Electronic Wind instrument). This is a wind synthesizer that has 100 sounds on board and goes from emulating acoustic instruments like flute, clarinet, trumpet, guitar etc. to rich harmonics synth sounds.
Whether it is a bar or bat mitzah, wedding, trade show or corporate event, Michael will happily take your call.
There are so many benefits to securing donations. Last September we celebrated a $500,000 gift from Roslyn Margles for the naming of the Max Margles Children's Library after her late husband, While most of this money was earmarked for library services, Ms. Margles allowed us to put some of the funds towards a project of our choice.
The Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library is known for a lot more than books. Culture is a big part of our mandate. I am proud to have Library and Culture as one of my council portfolios. When Director Janine West and I began developing a wish list, a mobile stage came up as a high priority. Besides all of the library concerts, there was also Canada Day and other presentations where the city had to rent stages. We agreed that purchasing a custom-made stage that could be setup anywhere in the city would be an excellent investment.
The assembled mobile stage.
We made the purchase. It arrived recently and was assembled by our Department of Public Works. Produced by Stageline, a high quality stage manufacturer used in over 50 countries all over the world, this stage will enable CSL to offer a higher level of professionalism to our array of outdoor summer concerts and events. Known for its safety features as well as its ease of set up and take down, this compact stage has won numerous awards because of its unique and innovative design – it is built as a trailer that unfolds to become a stage. This will enable the stage to be easily transported to any park or area in CSL. We look forward to using this valuable asset for many years to come.
The stage made its debut on July12 at Trudeau Park at a very well-attended outdoor concert by the group Vintage Wine. Here is a video
The first ever Driveway Fest in Côte Saint-Luc is a go and I can't wait!
Bravo to Stewart Rubin for making it happen. On Sunday afternoon, June 25, there will be an unprecedented array of musical performances in people's driveways. (In the event of rain, it will take place the following day).
Here is the lineup, with Rubin's commentary.
1 pm - 5709 Melling
Daylite Vampires Daylite Vampires was formed over 8 years ago. The name comes from the movie Blade where Wesley Snipes was a Daywalker thus a Daylite Vampire. We play a blend of Classic Rock , Punk and some hits from today. We perform at various venues around the city and are pleased to be part of this inaugural event.
1 pm- 5803 Einstein
Buffy McFly Piano/Vocal Duo classic rock and pop
Bio: When Miri met Lorne. Miri mentioned that she sang. Lorne mentioned that he played piano. Miri said that she was looking for someone to accompany her. She hadn’t intended it to be a pick-up line, but lo and behold and the rest is history.
1 pm – 7553 Baily Road
Joanne and Merv bring their 60’s and 70’s vibe to driveway festival. Well known in the community for getting the seniors off their feet and moving. It is a pleasure to have them with us this year.
2 pm 6880 Holland Road
Marie A Acoustic Folk-Pop - Marie has been singing, writing and playing a mix of her own melodies and songs she loves for a few years now. Inspired by singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, and many more, Marie incorporates a familiar style of 70s folk with her own storytelling twist to bring her catchy acoustic tune to life.
2 pm- 5518 Hudson
Peppermint Green We are a rock band that plays covers of rock classics as well as a few originals.
2 pm – 606 Westluke
Rachel Dara is an award-winning singer songwriter who has been nominated for 6 categories, at the ISSA 2023 Awards, taking place in Atlanta, 4th and 5th August. There are many words that might describe Rachel Dara. chanteuse, storyteller, poetess, bard. She crosses boundaries all the time, but one thing that differentiates her from the rest is her ability to transform a story into a song in her Indie folk rock genre.
3 pm 606 Westluke
Superbed a Montreal new wave style band with an 80’s and 90’s vibe, get ready to put on those pointy ducky shoes and bop around
3 pm– 5720 Brookside
Brian Campbell is a Montreal song-poet, dexterous finger stylist, and impassioned, heartfelt singer. He has released two full-length albums and an EP of original music, and more than a dozen singles. His sets are dynamic contrasts of serious and light, sorrowful and joyful, plainspoken and lyrical. The beauty of words holds prominent place in Campbell's songs, but he also maintains a common touch. A widely published poet, Campbell has several critically acclaimed collections to his name. On stage he is relaxed and natural, an entertaining storyteller who spellbinds with his songs.
3 pm – 5709 Melling
Large Men started playing their instruments when they were still small, at an average age of minus 4 years old. Their cautious mix of paranoid folk is not very good or interesting but its lack of character pays the bills and keeps away dementia.
In the wake of the recent ice storm, which plunged much of our community into darkness, it is nice to share some good news for a change.
Local bands in Côte Saint-Luc are being invited to participate in the first-ever Driveway Fest on Sunday, June 25, from 1 pm to 4 pm. The event, organized by hotel executive and band leader Stewart Rubin, will take place in select residential areas, with the City of Côte Saint-Luc sponsoring and promoting the community-driven pilot project.
Musicians interested in performing must email [email protected] by April 26, providing their name, band name, type of music, and intended performance address.
Driveway Fest aims to provide an opportunity for musicians to showcase their talents to neighborhood residents. Bands can only perform in their driveway or the driveway of someone from whom they have received permission, and only on driveways in Districts 5, 6, 7 and part of District 2 (Blossom to Cavendish). The goal is to promote walkability and use of bicycles or public transit.
Rubin (second from the right) and his band Daylite Vampires.
Homeowners will be legally responsible for their properties and expected to assist with crowd control. Bands must be respectful of neighbours by keeping the music volume down and refraining from using profanity. The homeowners hosting the event must inform their neighbours ahead of time. Volunteer Citizens on Patrol will be assisting during the event. Rubin is also exploring options to hold performances on local school grounds.
All genres of music are welcome, but participants should treat the event as a small festival, not a practice session or chance to test new equipment.
Priority registration is given to Côte Saint-Luc residents. If slots remain open after April 26, bands from other municipalities may be considered. Participants will need to complete a noise bylaw restriction form for the time they will be playing.
Library Director Janine West and City Councillor Andee Shuster are collaborating with Rubin to support local talent and create cultural offerings for residents. Driveway Fest may pave the way for future festivals and events in Côte Saint-Luc.
“We feel that supporting local talent while creating more cultural offerings for our residents will help to build community,” said Councillor Andee Shuster. “Council is also excited to see what comes of this volunteer-driven pilot project. In our Master Plan survey and focus groups, residents have mentioned that they’d like to see festivals come to Côte Saint-Luc and Driveway Fest may help to pave the way for other initiatives and events.”
The Montreal Cello Ensemble, based in NDG, gives talented local children a full scholarship opportunity to learn from and perform with cellists Genevieve Guimond and Gary Russell of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, educator Josh Fink, and pianist Sandra Hunt. The goal is to ensure that the highest level of music education is made available at no financial cost to children who show talent, dedication, and a love for music. This is a registered charity that has received support from private donors, the Dr. Julien Foundation, the Unitarian Church of Montreal, Luthiers, Wilder & Davis, Carrefour jeunesse emploi - NDG, and the law firm BLG.
Students come from across the island, meeting in person Saturday mornings at either The Unitarian Church of Montreal or the Carrefour jeunesse emploi - NDG. “During the pandemic we did a lot online, as well as outdoor classes when the weather permitted. We developed an extensive online curriculum of around 3,000 at-home practice videos," says Fink.
The Côte Saint-Luc District 2 resident attends École Des Amies-du-Monde.
Amaka was born in May 2015 and hails from Issele Azagba in the Delta State of Nigeria. A series of events caused the family to leave Nigeria and they arrived here in January 2018. As with most new endeavours, settling into a new environment definitely came with its challenges and one of the most difficult was finding an affordable daycare for her as she was so young and her parents couldn’t afford the private daycares at that time. She had to stay home while the family searched for ways to keep her engaged. As luck would have it, a neighbour turned friend named Rachel, who is also a musician, happened to introduce her to Fink. “He told me about this amazing free cello music program for kids that was in the works and suggested I have one of my kids try out for the auditions to get in,” said mom Joan. “We had never ever heard of or seen a cello so this was a totally new experience for us.”
Amaka was the very first to audition and she fared very well and this began her journey into the wonderful world of the cello. Added her mom: "Amaka has always loved listening to music and also singing as we would occasionally find her tapping away on the keyboard at home as she was fascinated by the sounds it made but her keen ear and appreciation for music was brought to my attention by her amazing instructors at Cello Montreal."
“She is also very excited about her very first song which she composed under the guidance and expertise of her instructors titled I love my Barbie doll and is looking forward to making more music,” Joan continued. “Playing the cello has become one of her very favourite things to do and she never misses a chance to play at any occasion whenever it is requested. It’s amazing to see how far she has come and how talented she is and we appreciate her instructors who are helping to nurture her talent and open her up to possibilities which we would never have imagined.”
As the city councillor responsible for library and culture, I was honoured to attend the formal kickoff for 50th anniversary ceremonies of the Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Public Library. We did so on June 22 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium. A nice crowd was on hand to watch rising-star pianist Emie R. Roussell and her jazz trio perform the concert Quantum, featuring music from their critically acclaimed CD of the same title.
With Mayor Brownstein in front of our new piano.
We also inaugurated the library’s new baby grand piano. We were able to acquire this gem of an instrument through various fundraising initiatives, including our heartfelt 88 Keys to Music Campaign, allowing us to honour donors’ names on a plaque we unveiled just prior to the concert. Since the piano will require upkeep, we are still taking $88 donations.
Winners of the Felix Award for Best Jazz Album 2015, critics and jazz lovers alike are unanimously referring to the Emie R. Roussell trio as “one-to-watch.” They performed for just about an hour and everyone at home enjoyed their excellent music. I spoke with Emie after the show. She was very complimentary towards our new piano. I reminded her that she made history, by becoming the first person to ever use it. As they packed up their equipment the trio was preparing for a musical trip to Japan. Upon their return they will be part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival.
Originally from the South Shore of Montreal and now an adopted resident of Rimouski, Emie discovered the fascinating world of music through her parents, themselves musicians and singers. She began studying classical piano at the age of five and continued lessons until she was 13. After a complete two-year break, she decided to follow her instincts and her love of improvisation to begin studying jazz with her father, jazz pianist Martin Roussel. He would be her mentor until she started studies at Cégep de St-Laurent college under the guidance of Lorraine Desmarais. She completed her diploma in jazz piano interpretation and was awarded the college’s “Very High Distinction” grant. In 2008, Emie made her entrance at Université de Montréal in jazz piano interpretation with Luc Beaugrand and completed her bachelor’s degree in May 2011. Since then, she has been a teacher and accompanist for the Jazz-Pop program at Cégep de Rimouski college in Rimouski, Quebec. In June 2015, she won the CALQ Award – Creator of the Year in Bas-St-Laurent.
Emmie on the piano.
The other members of her trio are Dominic Cloutier on drums and Nicolas Bédard on electric and acoustic bass.
A look at the new piano.
Thanks again to Library Director Janine West and her staff, particularly Danielle Belanger and Justin Burnham. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein provided opening remarks. Councillors Glenn J. Nashen, Dida Berku, Ruth Kovac and Sidney Benizri joined us for this historic night.
This is much more than a library, for our staff coordinate a wide array of cultural events. Please take a look at our upcoming calendar.
You can always visit csllibrary.com or contact the library’s Programs Department at 514-485-6900, ext. 4205.
As the Cote Saint-Luc city councillor responsible for Library and Culture, I am excited to be initiating a fundraising campaign to purchase a baby grand piano to be used for programs held in the Harold Greenspon Auditorium in the Bernard Lang Civic Centre.
There are 88 keys on a standard piano. As a result the “88 Keys to Music” campaign will enable people to sponsor a key for $88. In recognition, the names of donors will be placed on a plaque in the shape of a piano keyboard which will be permanently mounted outside the entrance to the Harold Greenspon Auditorium. In addition, the City of Cote Saint-Luc is seeking corporate sponsorships of $500 each. Corporate donors will be recognized on the plaque as well.
I think this is a wonderful opportunity for those who appreciate all of the wonderful musical programs presented by the Eleanor London Cote Saint Luc Public Library, the Cote Saint Luc Dramatic Society and other groups in our auditorium to contribute to buy a piano to enhance these programs.
Some of the funds for this campaign have already been raised via the annual library book sale. This includes our most recent event, October 18 and 19, in which $3,500 was raised.
Library Director Janine West is encouraging those who frequent the library and individual businesses to consider contributing. Cheques can be made out to the City of Côte Saint-Luc, c/o of the 88 keys to music campaign, 5801 Cavendish Boulevard, H4W 3CX3. They can also be dropped off at the circulation desk of the main library and the Library Express at the Aquatic and Community Centre. You can also email [email protected]. Tax receipts will be provided.
Carol's Shoe Museum.
Artist Carol Rabinovitch, who is also a Library Ambassador, has pledged 25 percent of sales from her current "Aromas on Canvas" show at Chez Fred Boulangerie and Patisserie (5338 Sherbrooke West, corner Prud'homme, near Decarie) which has been extended to November 7. Check out her blog at carolswhimsyart.blogspot.com, where many more colourful and whimsical artworks can be found. You can email her at [email protected]
I was proud to steer the ship once again for the Côte Saint-Luc Cats Committee's (CSLCC) third summer fundraising concert , held on Tuesday, August 26 at the former Wagar High School.The Musicians of the World Symphony Orchestra were outstanding. Ditto for soprano Brigitte O' Halleran and singer Alexandra Cohen, who doubled as emcee. Thanks to Councillor Sam Goldbloom for serving as co-chair with me, to event coordinator Alvin Fishman for his tireless work, Communications and Public Affairs Manager Regine Banon for taking care of publicity needs and a cast of many more.
Joseph Milo and his orchestra take a bow. (Rami Negev photo)
We had a crowd of more than 350 people on hand. Funds raised went towards our CSLCC Trap, Neuter, Release and Adopt Program and our partner organization Educhat, run by the extraordinary Shelley Schecter.
The Music We Love: Best of the Classics – the Cat’s Meow was the theme. We began with a tribute to the late Mayor Bernard Lang, who was a member of our committee and a true cat lover. His wife Miriam, son David and grandson Dylan accepted our special certificate of merit. Miriam confided to me that her family continues to feed homeless cats. Mayor Anthony Housefather, whom along with members of council has been very supportive of our group, gave words of welcome.
Sam Goldbloom, Anthony Housefather, Dylan Lang, Miriam Lang, David Lang and Mike Cohen. (Rami Negev photo)
Our newly elected Liberal MNA for D'Arcy McGee David Birnbaum was unable to attend,but he did send a nice message which Councillor Goldbloom read. "As member of the National Assembly, I am proud to support this event," he stated. "I’ve been pleased to discuss Côte Saint-Luc’s visionary approach to animal welfare with my colleague Pierre Paradis, Ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation, with a view to having other municipalities follow your fine example. I expect that cats across Côte Saint-Luc will be proudly purring along to the beautiful music you are about to hear!"
Mr. Birnbaum has informed us that a $500 donation from his office will be directed towards the CSLCC, a tradition started by his predecessor Lawrence Bergman. Via District 2 resident Howard Liebman, we also received encouraging words from Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who tabled animal protection motions in the House of Commons recently.
Lily Percs and a nice delegation from her Women's Group (Chomedy Branch) of Stamp out Violence attended, with transportation provided by Preferance Motor Coach.
Mike Cohen, Sam Goldbloom, Diane Liebling and Shelley Schecter. (Rami Negev photo)
Our most worthy honouree this year was Diane Liebling, one of the key players in the CSLCC. She has virtually given up the use of her own family garage - her family members park outdoors even on frigid winter days– so that space can be made available for homeless cats. Diane fosters these cats; in many cases she has fallen so deeply in love that she has adopted. Shelley Shecter often says : “If only we could clone Diane.” Diane Liebling has saved the lives of countless cats in CSL. She is a model for all of us. We presented her with a certificate and a nice gift donated by Norm Zimmerman of Steve's Music Store.
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. The city’s first ever cat licensing bylaw was adopted last year and we have already seen some success from it.
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. They are a treasure and we remain lucky to have them.
Below is a video of the entire evening, done by CSL Director of Public Affairs, Communications and IT Darryl Levine:
Thanks to all of our committee members, some of whom baked goods for an intermission fundraising sale and to the staff at the Marymount Adult Education Centre. Principal Jacques Monfette, educational advisor Hipolito Corral and caretakers Michel Leblanc and Brenda Pion. Michel really performed above and beyond the call of duty, serving as our de facto sound advisor.
From this evening we did get some new committee members. We also hope some folks heard our message and will consider adopting a cat. Diane has a few beauties looking for good homes right now.