say this week’s benefit concert for victims of Typhoon Yolanda, also known as Typhoon Haiyan, in The Philippines raised more than $25,000 for relief efforts.
Saturday’s performance at Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington drew in more than 200 audience members. It featured concert pianist Martin Soderberg, violinst Chie Yoshinaka, Mezzo Soprano Elena Diaz-Acosta, and Benjamin Rossen, an 11-year-old pianist from Great Neck who has already performed at Carnegie Hall. The show opened with performances from Port Washington vocalists Sydney Ronis and Jenna Cohen; Ethan Usoskin of Port Washington on clarinet and Leah Stevens of East Islip on flute; Port Washington residents Adam Tuch and Noah Milstein, two founding members of The Esoteric Jive Clan, a jazz-fusion ensemble.
The event was quickly put together just weeks after nearly 15 million people were affected by Yolanda, with 4 million left homeless, organizers say. There are 5,759 Filipinos confirmed dead, and another 1,779 still missing, according to the organizers, who noted that the typhoon hit the poorest and most vulnerable people the hardest, leaving many children orphans.
“You could not have hit more of a weak spot,” Aidan McCormack, the event’s master of ceremonies, told the audience.
A Filipino American, Benjamin Rossen has family in Luzon, just north of where the typhoon hit. His mother, Myrna Rossen, and her sister Maya McCormack – both immigrants from the Philippines – decided to do something locally to help those afflicted by the typhoon.
Myrna enlisted her son Benjamin and Maya, who lives in Port Washington recruited her husband, Aidan, who is on the board of the American Red Cross Long Island. Aidan reached our to fellow board member Robert Seiden. Along with Debbie Greco, they quickly formed the Yolanda Benefit Relief Planning Committee, which also included Mark Deckman, Debbie Greco, Paolo Giorno, Vivian Moy, Meagan Parker, Robert Rossen, Gail Seiden and Sheri Suzzan.
Also lending support was Port Washington School Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Mooney and the Schreiber Key Club, whose members helped with seating, refreshments and more.
Significant donors included DLA Piper, The Peter and Jeri Dejana Family Foundation, Frank Crystal & Company, Trial.com Foundation and Independent Investors. Supporters also include American Red Cross (John Miller, the Long Island chapter’s CEO was in the audience), and The Lullingstone Charitable Foundation.
"It was an honor to act as MC and really moving to see how many people made donations and turned out for this worthy cause,” McCormack said. “After all, we are helping people on the other side of the planet. It just goes to show that we do recognize importance of global humanity. Everyone is our neighbor."
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Editor's note: Ethan Usoskin, one of the musicians performing at the benefit, is the son of Adina Genn.