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Father Alphonse Announces A Special Fundraising Concert At Algonquin Arts Theatre On May 25

April 24, 2013

"Father Alphonse, Friends & A Giant Piano"
Offers Chance to Enjoy "Must-See Maestro" as Never Before;
All-Star Concert to Benefit Foundation that Gifts
'Instruments of Change" to Young New Jersey Musicians

Father Alphonse Stephenson

HI RES IMAGE:http://www.algonquinarts.org/cc/FatherAlphonseStephenson_Piano_CMYK.jpg
Caption: Father Alphonse Stephenson at the piano (Credit: Father Alphonse Stephenson)

MANASQUAN, NJ (April 24, 2013) - The Reverend Father Alphonse Stephenson will host an All-Star Benefit Concert at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan on Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 8 p.m.

The special show, "Father Alphonse, Friends & A Giant Piano," celebrates the 25th anniversary of The Cecelia Foundation, which Father Alphonse founded to provide musical instruments to promising young students throughout New Jersey.

The centerpiece of the fundraiser will be a nine-foot Steinway Concert Grand Piano brought to the Theatre just for this occasion. Joining the "Must-See Maestro" on stage will be his very talented friends from music theatre, cabaret, the concert hall and more.

Tickets for the special evening now are available by calling (732) 528-9211, online at algonquinarts.org and by visiting the Algonquin Arts Box Office at 173 Main Street, Manasquan. Tickets are $40 or $48 with discounts for seniors, students and groups of 10 or more. The Cecilia Foundation is a 510(c)(3) non-profit organization. A $2 per ticket processing fee applies.

Father Alphonse's unique multi-faceted calling as a Roman Catholic priest has included being conductor of the Broadway production of "A Chorus Line" for thousands of performances and leading the orchestra he founded to performance at Carnegie Hall. Father Alphonse also serves as an Air Force Chaplain of the Air National Guard and Brigadier General. He currently serves at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., as the Director of the National Guard Joint Chaplaincy.

"I'm happy to announce my friends and colleagues - sopranos Maria Zitp-Kaufman and Victoria Cannizzo, jazz/pop baritone Chris Pinnella, Broadway stage actor and baritone singer William Michals, and violinist Chris DeCesare - whom I am tapping to make the May 25th event a labor of love for us, a night to be remembered by the audience, as well as a boost in the arm for the Cecelia Foundation and our mission to foster the future of good music."

Father Alphonse reported that in the past 25 years, "We've given away violins, violas, cellos, basses, flutes, trombones, drums you name it." Primary funding for the Foundation have been from sales of the orchestra's recordings and through the generosity of the Paul F. Zito M.D. Foundation.

The new instruments are awarded during a concert, and the recipient is invited to the performance by their teacher, unaware they will be presented with the gift. Father Alphonse recalled, "I have seen a 15 year old boy sob long after the performance as he held a new bass fiddle is his arms!"

The criteria for awarding a student with a new instrument is stringent; a recommendation from his or her private teacher, a respectable academic record, all accompanied by a genuine financial need.

"Financial cutbacks are the order of the day. School arts programs are often among the first to be cut, and families are prioritizing their spending during these tough times. When you find a student who's anxious to learn, you just can't sit back and do nothing," Father Alphonse stressed.

Interviewed from his home in Washington, D.C., Father Alphonse, stated, "Sports scholarships are popular and readily accessible for the athlete, but what about the young musician?" The Cecelia Foundation is designed to encourage the serious study and training of the future classical musician. "The instruments available to aspiring musicians through school systems often discourage the student from practicing," referring to the often dismal condition of school owned instruments. "As the student begins to gain a certain degree of proficiency, an instrument capable of responding to the evolving talent serves as an encouragement to the growing musician."

For more than a decade, Father Alphonse Stephenson has conducted the Orchestra of St. Peter by the Sea at Algonquin Arts Theatre with recent seasons including a trio of concerts. The final concert of the 2012-13 season, "Greatest Hits of the 1800s" will be held on Sunday, April 28 at 3 p.m. The Algonquin Arts Theatre is donating the use of the theatre for the May 25 concert.

"We are pleased to support The Cecelia Foundation's efforts to provide the key resource for young musician - a quality instrument," said Algonquin Arts Theatre Executive Director William Whitefield. "This event gives fans is a chance to see Father Alphonse at the piano accompanied by an extremely talented lineup of his musical friends as everyone supports a good cause."