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Celebrating Sinatra at 100

To commemorate Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday, the Hofstra Cultural Center and Hofstra University’s Departments of History and Music are presenting a multi-day celebration from November 10-22 that features concerts, lectures, master classes and special guests. Students are joining the tribute with vocal and instrumental performances. Guest speakers include Gay Talese, Pete Hamill, bassist Jerry Bruno, radio personality Mark Simone, entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon, Grammy-nominated vocalist Jane Monheit, biographer James Kaplan (Sinatra, The Chairman), jazz musician Rick Stone, and music critic and author Will Friedwald.

All events in this Sinatra series are free and open to the public, with the exception of the Sunday, November 22, Peter B. Clark Memorial Scholarship Fund Concert. Due to space limitations, advance registration is required. Visit the Hofstra Cultural Center website or call 516-463-5669 for more information.

Exactly 17 years ago, Hofstra made history with a three day conference honoring the “Chairman of the Board,” who had passed away earlier in 1998. A multitude of famous personalities converged on campus, including Quincy Jones, Tina Sinatra, Vic Damone and Alan King. This current series of Hofstra programs revisits “the man, the music, the legend,” whose presence continues to loom large in the American imagination and popular culture.

Many  of these featured events are preceded by The Sinatra Future, selected Hofstra vocal students performing selections from The Great American Songbook.

sinatra cover
The cover of Hofstra’s 1998 Sinatra conference program.

Event highlights include:

Tuesday, November 10, 7 p.m. Two legendary writers: Gay Talese (Frank Sinatra Has a Cold and Other Essays) and Pete Hamill (Why Sinatra Matters) discuss “Sinatra As American Icon.”

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Wednesday, November 11, 5 p.m. Bassist Jerry Bruno, who played and toured with Sinatra, will be interviewed by John Bohannon, host of WRHU-FM’s The Jazz Café and former correspondent for ABC, NBC and CBS Radio. Bruno has been designated Hofstra’s D’Addario Foundation Visiting Artist.

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Thursday, November 12, 4 p.m. Sinatra was a champion of civil rights and a staunch supporter of Israel. A roundtable, “Racism, Civil Rights and Israel,” features Greg Dunmore, founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists; Shalom L. Goldman, professor of religion from Middlebury College, and Hofstra’s own Stanislao Pugliese, professor of history and the Queensboro UNICO Distinguished Professor of Italian American Studies. Also on the program is a screening of 1945’s The House I Live In, a 10-minute short opposing anti-Semitism, directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Sinatra. The film received an Honorary Academy Award in 1946.

7 p.m. The Great American Songbook: Past, Present and Future is a panel with Hofstra Professor David Lalama; musician, record producer and songwriter David Finck; musical director, pianist and arranger Tedd Firth; Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Jane Monheit; New Jersey City University Professor of Jazz History Arnold Jay Smith; and Debbi Whiting, president of My Ideal Music. Whiting is the granddaughter of songwriter Richard Whiting (“Hooray for Hollywood”) and the daughter of singer and television personality Margaret Whiting.

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Wednesday, November 18, 4 p.m. “Lessons Learned From Sinatra” is a lecture and master class with radio personality Mark Simone. Simone hosted numerous PBS specials on Sinatra and a long-running show on Sinatra for ABC Radio.

8 p.m. Will Friedwald, music critic and author of Sinatra! The Song Is You: A Singer’s Art, presents “Sinatra: The Television Factor,” with an introduction by Robert Foster, executive director of the Hoboken Historical Museum. Friedwald is regarded as one of the most knowledgeable writers on singers of the American songbook.

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Thursday, November 19, 4 p.m. A roundtable discussion on “Frank Sinatra and Italian American Culture” features University of Vermont Professor John Gennari; Joe Scognamillo and Sal Scognamillo of Patsy’s Restaurant in New York City (where Sinatra was a regular); author of Amore: The Story of Italian-American Song Mark Rotella; and Manhattan College English Professor Rocco Marinaccio.

7:30 p.m. Celebrity journalist Sandy Kenyon, music critic and author Will Friedwald, biographer James Kaplan (Sinatra: The Chairman), WKRB-FM host Ron Forman, and Bronx Opera Company Artistic Director Michael Spierman offer their views in the panel “Assessing Frank Sinatra.”

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Sunday, November 22, 4 p.m. Sit in on an open rehearsal and master class with jazz guitarist Rick Stone.

7 p.m. The Peter B. Clark Memorial Scholarship Fund Concert features guest artist Rick Stone, as well as the talents of the Hofstra Jazz Ensemble and the Hofstra Vocal Jazz Quartet and Singers. This performance takes place at The Helene Fortunoff Theater. Tickets are $10, $8 for senior citizens (over 65) or non-Hofstra students with ID. Tickets are available at the Hofstra Box Office or at Hofstratickets.com. Members of the Hofstra community receive up to two free tickets upon presentation of a current HofstraCard.

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