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Bronfman to headline UJA Benefit Concert
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Bronfman to headline UJA Benefit Concert

15th annual concert comes with challenge from the Coltons

World-renowned, Grammy-winning Israeli classical pianist Yefim Bronfman will headline the 15th annual UJA Benefit Concert in April. He was also on the short list of great performers whom Judy and Stewart Colton, this year’s honorees, wished to sign on to perform at the gala concert at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. In fact, it was their efforts that secured his appearance.

The Coltons, classical music aficionados who live in Short Hills, have made a gift of $1 million in honor of the UJA Benefit Concert. Half that sum is going to the MetroWest community, the other $500,000 to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra through the American Friends of the IPO. The Coltons made this arrangement to continue their long-time support of both United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ and the IPO.

“This gift combines our love of music, Israel, and the MetroWest Jewish community,” said the Coltons in an e-mailed message. “We see this as a significant moment for the Philharmonic and MetroWest so we felt it was the right time to make a major gift to both organizations. This is the 15th anniversary of the UJA Benefit Concert, and the IPO is currently rebuilding its auditorium” in Tel Aviv.

The concert expenses are paid for each year by the sponsors, with all proceeds from ticket sales going to benefit UJC MetroWest. Stewart Colton reasoned that bringing in a big name like Bronfman, a fellow AFIPO board member, would generate more ticket sales, he told NJJN in a phone interview.

The Coltons also decided to make half their $500,000 gift to the MetroWest community a challenge grant. All new and increased gifts of more than $100 and less than $10,000 made to participating agencies this winter will be matched, dollar for dollar, through the Colton Challenge Grant. The challenge period runs from Dec. 6, 2011, to March 12, 2012.

The IPO, originally the Palestine Orchestra, began in 1936 under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. Today, it is an internationally recognized symphony headed by its eminent longtime music director, Zubin Mehta. The Mann Auditorium, home to the IPO since 1957, will undergo renovations in 2012. During the renovation, the orchestra will perform at Tel Aviv University, an institution that the Coltons also have long supported.

The UJA Benefit Concert will be held on Sunday, April 22, at 3 p.m. at NJPAC in Newark. Bronfman will perform with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and the concert will feature works by Dvorak, Beethoven, and Brahms. Also on the program is the music of Bedfiich Smetana, whose symphonic poem Vltava, celebrating Bohemia, contains the composer’s most famous tune, an adaptation of an Italian Renaissance melody that, in a borrowed form, was also the basis for the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikva.”

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