Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tickets Still Available for City Hall Gershwin Celebration!

Musical party to benefit landmark
Gala at Albany City Hall will aid with restoration work for St. Joseph's Church building

By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
First published: Thursday, July 27, 2006
Times Union

ALBANY -- A series of summer parties aimed at raising funds to repair a landmark Arbor Hill church will be making a stop at City Hall.

Committee 150, which has set a $150,000 fundraising goal for St. Joseph's Church, will host a party Friday themed on the music of George and Ira Gershwin, said committee co-founder Colleen Ryan.

"With each party, each open house and each discussion, we hope that people will begin imagining the possibilities for this magnificent structure," she said. The group, which started in May, so far has raised about $23,000 through various parties.

In 2003, the city gave the Historic Albany Foundation ownership of the 141-year-old neo-Gothic church, which had been closed nearly a decade earlier by the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese. The roof was in danger of collapse because leaks had rotted a key supporting pillar.

Earlier that year, the city took ownership of the church from Lark Street restaurateur Elda Abate through eminent domain, saying the building was in danger of falling down.

So far, the foundation has spent about $100,000 on repairs, said Ryan, but more work remains, including restoration of ornate stained glass windows.

The City Hall party, scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., will feature Kevin Cole, called by the Chicago Tribune "the best Gershwin pianist in America today."

The following day, Cole is scheduled to perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center with the Philadelphia Orchestra and guest conductor Marvin Hamlisch.

Tickets start at $50 per person, and can be purchased by calling the Morgan State House at 427-6063.

[Co-hosts of the event are Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings; Anders Thomson, senior vice president and director of commercial real estate finance for New York State for Citizens Bank; Charles Kuhtic, owner of the Morgan State House, an urban inn in Albany; and J.M. L. Huffman, J.D., a Financial Planner with Met Life Financial Services.]

Food, decorations and entertainment will be handled by Dale Miller, a certified master chef at Jack's Oyster House; Brad Junco of Capital Wine & Spirits; Seagroatt Floral; and Hugh Murphy of Clark Music in Latham, which is donating use of a Steinway piano.

Other sponsors include Complete Party Rentals, Designs by Douglas, McCadam Cheese, Spoonful Catering, Classical Recording Service -- Daniel Czernecki, Vinci/Weigel Beverage Center, Experience and Creative Design and RK Designs.

A raffle will be held for a vacation package at the Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa in Lake Placid. In addition, original artwork depicting St. Joseph's Church, as well as signed prints, will be available for purchase.

To learn more about Committee 150, or to sign up to plan and host a party, visit or call 462-1900.

Brian Nearing can be reached at 454-5094 or by e-mail at


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