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White Plains Jazz Pianist Honored With Art Award

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — About 300 Westchester residents gathered at the Crowne Plaza in White Plains on Wednesday to honor the contributions of artists and organizations from across the county at ArtsWestchester's Arts Awards 2012 luncheon.

ArtsWestchester CEO Janet Langsam thanked the artists, patrons and supporters for helping an industry that brings $140 million annually into Westchester as well as thousands of jobs.

“It’s wonderful that you’re all here. I always look forward to this event because it’s such a wonderful networking, collegial event for the arts,” Langsam said of the 36th annual Arts Awards ceremony.

Dennis Bell , a White Plains jazz pianist, composer and producer, received the artist award.

“I’m not used to getting awards like this. I’m very, very proud,” he said. “I came to Westchester just 10 years ago and found such a vibrant arts community. So I’d like to thank ArtsWestchester again for making that possible in our county.”

The Mercy College adjunct music and music technology professor recalled how his parents instilled music in his life by saying, “You sit down and play the piano, or you get out.”

“I was 8 years old at the time. So that didn’t work out,” said Bell, who called on the audience to get youth involved in the arts. “I encourage you all to get out and reach the young people to develop their artistic talents and develop new audiences.”

Croton illustrator Jerry Pinkney was also given an artist award. The Westchester Community Foundation received the arts patron award. The Taconic Opera earned the arts organization award. The Sophia Abeles Education Award celebrated the Steffi Nossen School of Dance’s work. Finally, the community award was presented to the Yonkers Philharmonic, Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and the Castle Gallery at the College of New Rochelle.

Director Katrina Rhein thanked many for helping transform a 19th-century gothic revival castle into a revolving gallery for College of New Rochelle students and local artists.

“I hope that everyone who has collaborated with us or visited us over the years feels somewhat responsible for this award. It’s a community award. CNR as a whole and the surrounding community is what makes the shows and programs so successful,” said Rhein.

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