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Strongsville event to benefit upcoming concert called a success
By Brian Byrne, Sun News January 29, 2010, 1:54PM

An enthusiastic crowd turned out on Saturday to the Walter F. Ehrnfelt Recreation Center for an upscale evening to benefit next week’s CityMusic Cleveland concert at St. Joseph Church in Strongsville.

Presented by The Arts in Strongsville , the “Wine, Music and Cabaret” fundraiser offered revelers the opportunity to sample food and drink from a variety of local establishments and enjoy the talents of area musicians and performers. According to event co-organizer Cindy Baldin, approximately 300 partygoers packed the room.

“I’m very pleased with the attendance, we even had to turn people away,“ she said.

Don’s Pomeroy House crabcakes and the chocolate martinis served-up by Shinto received rave reviews from many attendees, and the all-senior citizen dance troupe The Glitz Girls performance later in the evening was much anticipated by all. Other contributors included Bianca’s, Buca di Beppo and Flavor the Town, and Ken Mehalko and Friends provided perfect background jazz music throughout the night.

“The food and drink are fabulous, there’s a little bit of something for everybody,” Mike Kalinich, Jr., said.

Led by conductor James Gaffigan, CMC is a professional chamber orchestra that presents a limited number of free concerts in northeast Ohio churches, and will take the stage on Feb. 4 at St. Joseph. Strongsville resident Pat Grecco helped bring the orchestra to the church for the first time two years ago.

“I went to a concert and fell in love with it,” he said. “They’re world-class.“

Grecco was thoroughly impressed with how Saturday’s event came together.

“It’s beyond expectations, it’s been done very professionally,” he said.

Friends Denise Dean and Lynn Hoffman appreciated the chance to mingle with the diverse crowd, while supporting a worthy cause.

“We thought it would be something new and different for Strongsville,” Dean said of CMC. “I think that sometimes we get too busy and forgot how important culture is.”

With a family active in music, Hoffman welcomed the opportunity to help spread a love for the arts.

“Music is something that’s near and dear to our hearts,” she said. “The entertainment has been wonderful, and it’s been fun reconnecting with people.”

A number of CMC representatives took part in the festivities, including treasurer Sawsan Alhaddad and board member Clurie Bennis.

“The whole mission of CMC is that we want to make classical music accessible to audiences (outside of the traditional big city setting),” Alhaddad said.

For Bennis, the benefit was a shining example of how CMC strives to make its concerts a community-wide undertaking.

“We’re all about community, and this is the whole community (here tonight),” she said. “I think this is the strongest support we’ve had from an arts association in a town.”

AIS works to provide Strongsville residents with opportunities for arts education, promotes arts-related facilities and encourages an overall community appreciation for the arts. Led by president Linda Plain, its primary fundraiser, “A Day at the Chalet”, is held annually in September.

Ward 1 Councilman Michael J. Daymut commended the work of AIS and other volunteer groups on behalf of the city and its residents.

“All these organizations are interrelated, and support eachother, and I think that’s great for the community,“ he said. Strongsville Chamber of Commerce President Jim Mocho echoed the councilman’s sentiments, giving thanks to the many businesses that donated their services.

“It just makes it a better community for people to live and work in,” he said. “There are some great volunteers here.”