10 Years of Music For Youth:
J. McLaughlin fundraiser features classical performances in-store
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)
Westport, CT – In a cove between shelves of spring clothing, the young prodigies plucked and stroked their instruments for an appreciative crowd of parents and local residents that had come to celebrate an important milestone.
Early Saturday evening May 7, J. McLaughlin clothing retailer at 1026 Post Road East helped the non-profit Music For Youth organization celebrate its 10th anniversary with an in-store fundraising soiree. Guests enjoyed wine, nibblies, live music performances by young people that play in the MFY’s master classes, and shopping, with 15% of the revenue from purchases during the 3-hour event donated to MFY.
“J. McLaughlin has a brand-new beautiful location, after just moving from its former home on Main Street,” said Cynthia Cummiskey, Secretary on the Board of MFY, “and one of our board members suggested we collaborate with them as the store is as dedicated to the community as MFY. This is a great way to celebrate our 10th anniversary season, now beginning.”
The board member to whom Cummiskey referred was Elise Russi, from Westport. “I thought this partnership would be fitting and our small ensembles really gain exposure in a wonderful space,” she said.
As to the store’s role, manager Samantha Holmes said, “J. McLaughlin likes to give back,” she said. “Our space is perfect for special events. We like to highlight the space while doing a good community service.”
A parent, Mia Herstatt of Redding, whose child Olivia was a member of the quartet performing in the store, praised the program. “It has been a wonderful experience for Olivia to have such exposure in a high caliber musical setting and to experience this with other well versed young musicians,” she said. “They all see it as a celebration of music. I think music will be a lifelong pursuit and interest for my daughter.”
The organization’s matriarch, Marianne Liberatore, said it didn’t seem like 10 years had passed since the group became incorporated as a non-profit. “It’s been a wonderful time with amazing concerts highlighted throughout,” she said.
Liberatore also related some of the other anniversary activities that led up to the Sip and Shop store event. “Earlier today, we had a one-hour concert featuring prize-winning marimbist Pius Chung,” she said. “He was joined by Westconn master’s student Matt Bronson, who played various drums. Yesterday, we had a celebratory session at High Horizons School in Bridgeport wherein Cheung performed for all the band students there. When the program was over, there were about 25 students who wouldn’t go. They were so entranced. So he gave them mallets to play the marimba. The kids would play a rhythmic pattern while he provided the melody, all improvised. Everyone was so happy and, really, that’s the beauty of music.”