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Rosie Perez lends her voice to the Brooklyn Youth Chorus

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Bushwick native Rosie Perez came out to the Brooklyn Museum of Art to support the Brooklyn Youth Chorus at its gala benefit on May 12.

Perez, who recently starred in "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" on Broadway, is best known for her roles in "White Men Can’t Jump" (1992) "It Could Happen to You" (1994) and "Fearless" (1993), for which she was Oscar nominated. She proved to be a spunky emcee for the evening, introducing performances by the Concert Chorus and presenting the Voices of Harmony award to the evening’s honoree, philanthropist Emily Hargroves Fisher.

When the microphone was uncooperative, Perez gamely turned up her own volume, saying with a smile, "Now I know why they asked me here - because of my mouth!"

Perez cheerily encouraged the "rich people" in the audience to generously support the chorus and its new Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy in Cobble Hill by bidding high on the silent auction’s luxury items displayed in the museum’s Beaux Arts Court.

"Money has always made a difference in my life," said Perez, who started her career as a dancer on "Soul Train." "I used to hate it when rich people said, ’Money doesn’t matter.’ Take a walk in Bushwick! Rich people gave money to this poor Puerto Rican and it made a difference."

Among the temptations at the silent auction were a dinner with "Pieces of April" screenwriter Peter Hedges. The gala raised more than $100,000 for the organization.

Under the direction of Dianne Berkun, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus regaled the audience with a varied program featuring dazzling soloists Brenda Mathisen, whose voice rang out like a bell, and Ekela Dixon, before they filed into the ballroom for a dinner catered by CulinArt.

The chorus does not perform for "rich people" alone, although they have performed with scandal-addled superstar Michael Jackson as well as with many illustrious orchestras.

Catch the Chorus’ next performances, "Songs in Bloom," on June 14 at Saint Augustine Church, Sixth Avenue between Park Place and Sterling Place, in Park Slope. The family matinee at 2:30 pm will feature the 200-member training choruses with a brief appearance by the Concert Chorus. The formal concert at 7:30 pm will feature the Concert Chorus and Intermediate Chorus in a program of choral masterworks, international folk music and the premiere of a new work by jazz composer Kirk Nurock. For tickets, ranging from $8 to $25, call (718) 243-9447.


Final answer

Television host extraordinaire Regis Philbin ("Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and "Live with Regis and Kelly") will be honored at the annual Joe DiMaggio Award Dinner on June 10.

The dinner benefits Bay Ridge’s Xaverian High School and its program for students with learning disabilities.

Philbin has been the subject of much lampooning in a recurring "Saturday Night Live" skit that pokes fun at the age difference between he and his much younger co-host, Kelly Ripa.

Former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent is expected to speak and there will be an award presentation by Baseball Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda. Jim Ryan, anchor of "Good Day New York," will serve as master of ceremonies.

Gala attendees, to include actor Michael Badalucco ("The Practice) and "Saturday Night Live" alum Joe Piscopo, will also have the opportunity to bid on DiMaggio memorabilia during a silent auction.

The gala begins at 6 pm at the New York Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, between 45th and 46th streets, in Manhattan. For tickets, which begin at $500 for cocktails and dinner, call (718) 836-4100, ext. 119, or visit www.joedimaggioaward.com.


Center of attention

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College honored artist Leroy Campbell; Slapin, Lieb, Pike & Rampolla chairman William Slapin; and JP Morgan Chase Executive Vice President Mark Willis at its annual Ovation Awards on May 7 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s elegant Palm House.

Campbell’s artwork is displayed at his Spiritual Rhythms Art Gallery in Fort Greene and has been featured on the sets of several television shows: "The Heat of the Night," "The Cosby Show" and "Martin," among others.

A highlight of the evening - which featured al fresco cocktails, dinner and dancing to the sounds of the Robert Mitchell Orchestra - was a performance of Lloyd Price’s hit "Personality," performed by the 70-year-old rock and roller himself. The audience soon began singing along with Price, who acted as "celebrity master of ceremonies."

Price will perform again, with Jerry Butler, Ben E. King and Gene Chandler, on June 14 at the Westbury Music Fair as part of The Four Kings, which he said is "like Sinatra’s rat pack."

Other VIPs included a quick cameo by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who literally had to take his food to go, and gala co-chairs Virginia Gliedman and Louis Rosenthal.

The benefit raised $118,000 for Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, which stages productions at Brooklyn College’s Whitman Theater, one block from the junction of Nostrand and Flatbush avenues.

BCBC’s final event of the season at Brooklyn College is June 14, when Trinidad’s 50-member Lydian Singers and their steel orchestra, under the direction of Pat Bishop, will be joined by King David Rudder and tenor Edward Cumberbatch.

The choir will perform Fletcher’s Choral Fantasia from Tannhauser and Bach’s Concerto in F minor as well as Caribbean and Latin folk songs, black spirituals, calypso, and Rudder’s hit "Trini 2 de Bone." (The show was re-scheduled after the choir backed out of their March 22 date, citing the war in Iraq as their reason to stick close to home.) For tickets, which cost $40, call (718) 951-4500.

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