Annual Recital

Valley Stream music school celebrates the greats


Soprano Helene Williams and composer, conductor and pianist Leonard Lehrman of Court Street Music in Valley Stream hosted their eighth annual House Concert and Student Recital June 27. The pair have been nurturing the talents of musicians young and old, including NYSSMA coaching and longterm study, since 1999

The recital celebrated birthday of activist Emma Goldman (1869-1940), while remembering historian Howard Zinn (1922-2010) and Long Island activist Susan June Blake (1953-2007). It also featured the music of Robert Schumann (1810-56) and Elie Siegmeister (1909-91) plus poems by Estela Eaton and Marcia McNair.

McNair’s words, set by Lehrman, were sung by Ijeoma “IJ” Merenini. IJ had performed them at PeaceSmiths, the Amityville coffeehouse led by Susan Blake, through whom the poets and composer met.

This was 500th concert together for Williams and Lehrman, including numerous tours of Florida, California, Canada, Israel, Australia, and Europe (seven times). Their students, including 2010 Hewlett High School graduate Jordan Witter, range in age from 6 to 86.

Since 1987, their programs have included E.G.: A Musical Portrait of Emma Goldman (inspired by Howard Zinn’s play Emma), Remembering Anne Frank, The Jewish Woman in Song, An Israel Cabaret, Jewish Voices in Germany, A Bernstein/Blitzstein Cabaret, Elie Siegmeister and Martin Luther King, Brahms, Mozart, Schumann, Heine, Pushkin, Songs of Love, Songs By and About Women, The Booby Trap or Off Our Chests, and operas, cantatas and song cycles by Leonard, including more than 400 individual vocal works to date, 137 of them written for Helene. Their next engagements are Aug. 8 at Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah N.J. and Dec. 19 at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library.

Williams teaches at Queensborough Community College. Lehrman retired June 30 as music director and composer-in-residence at United Methodist Church of Huntington/ Cold Spring Harbor. On July 1, he became interim organist at New Dorp Moravian Church on Staten Island.