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Usdan Co-Founds new Wyandanch Youth Center Chorus

Location: New York, USA
Choir type: Children's and Youth Choirs
Voicing: Children
The new Wyandanch Youth Center Chorus is a children’s ensemble that has been
created this year by Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. The program is
one part of Usdan’s initiative to support arts education on Long Island and in the
Boroughs. The Chorus presented its first concert on June 10 at the Wyandanch Family
Life Center where the 50-member group, consisting of first to fifth graders, performed
classical, Broadway, folk and contemporary pop music. Composers included Rodgers
and Hammerstein, Woody Guthrie, Bobby McFerrin and Pharrell Williams. The choral
director is Melody Hall, the Assistant Teacher for Usdan’s Junior Chorus. The
accompanying pianist was Andres Maldonado.
The Wyandanch Youth Center Chorus is a partnership of Usdan Center and the Family
Life Center/Wyandanch Youth Center. It was established to give children a positive
choral experience and since January, rehearsals have been held twice a week. The
program is sponsored by Russell Albanese, a new member of Usdan Center’s
Leadership Council and an award-winning “Green” real estate developer. Mr.
Albanese is currently building Wyandanch Village, a major revitalization project in the
area. In addition to his sponsorship of the Chorus, Albanese has underwritten
scholarships for selected chorus members to study music at Usdan during the 2014
summer season.
Dale Lewis, Executive Director of Usdan Center, says of the new project, “We are
enormously excited by this initiative which is enabling us to bring the arts into the lives of
a new community of children. We are grateful to Mr. Albanese for making it possible.”
At the helm of his family’s 64-year-old real estate development business, Russell
Albanese has more than 30 years experience in planning, designing and constructing
office and residential buildings, much of it focused on making those projects
environmentally sustainable. The Albanese Organization built the country’s first certified
green residential buildings in Battery Park City in 2003, and in 2008 the firm opened the
33-story Visionaire in Lower Manhattan, which garnered a Platinum LEED rating. The
company also transformed the 110,000-square-foot office building at 1001 Franklin Ave.
in Garden City, the first Long Island multi-tenant office building to be totally retrofitted
for LEED certification. In 2012, Russell Albanese was honored by the U.S. Green Building
Council’s Long Island chapter.
The Wyandanch Family Life Center, Inc., directed by Jeanine Reynolds, focuses on the
social and educational development of children, and on providing a safe place for
children to learn and play. In furtherance of that mission the Center also operated the
Wyandanch Youth Center, with a variety of sports and social activities for children and
their families.
Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts (, counts among its
alumni actors Natalie Portman, Olivia Thirlby and Jackie Hoffman, and singers Jane
Monheit and Mariah Carey. It has introduced the arts to more than 60,000 Tri-State Area
children since its founding in 1968. The Center is open to all young people from age 6 to
18. No audition is needed for most programs – rather, admission is based on an
expression of interest in the arts. Each summer, 1,600 students are transported to the
Center in air-conditioned buses each day. One-third of Usdan’s students attend on
scholarship. Although the mission of the Center is for every child to establish a
relationship with the arts, the unique stimulation of the Center has caused many to go
on to arts careers. Alumni include members of Broadway shows and major music,
theater, and dance ensembles such as the Boston Pops and the New York City Ballet.
A special feature of each student’s program is the Center’s series of daily assemblies
known as the Festival Concerts. These are short educational performances by
distinguished artist and by Usdan students as well. In addition to its regular programs,
Usdan offers special opportunities for advanced high school- age performing artists in
music and dance. Usdan Center is a beneficiary agency agency of the UJA-Federation
of New York and is chartered by the Regents of the State of New York. For more
information, write to Call (631) 643-7900, or visit