Tag Archives: Suzuki Music School of Westport

Be AWARE: Unique Photographer Honors Special Women

International Day of the Woman was last Friday.

But you can celebrate it this coming Friday.

And you’ll not only honor some outstanding women — you’ll help young refugee girls.

Rebecca Rose is a photographer. She specializes in “classical painterly portraits” — photographs that look almost like paintings. In fact, she provides dresses, gowns, hair and makeup for her subjects.

On Friday (March 15) she’ll open an exhibit at Suzuki Music School. She’ll show some of our state’s most remarkable women: senior journalists, presidents of non-profits, Mrs. Connecticut — you name it, Rebecca has photographed her.

Two Westporters are among those honored.

Amy Saperstein and her daughter. (Photo/Rebecca Rose)

Amy Saperstein is a founder and co-director of AWARE, both in New York and Fairfield County. The acronym stands for Assisting Women with Actions, Resources and Education. Each year, members partner with a local non-profit. They volunteer with that group, organize an educational event and host a fundraiser.

AWARE CT has already aided the International Institute of Connecticut (human trafficking), Mercy Learning Center (education), Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes (veterans) and Malta House (pregnant and new mothers).

Previously, Amy — who earned an MBA at Columbia — was executive director of Project Sunshine. She grew the nonprofit, which serves children in hospitals, from a small community group to an international organization, with programs in the US, Mexico, Israel, Africa and China.

Nicole Gerber (Photo/Rebecca Rose)

Nicole Gerber will also have her Rebecca Ross portrait hung at Suzuki. With over 20 years experience in project management and event planning, she’s currently director of operations for AWARE CT.

Nicole also sits on the board of advisors for Unite the World with Africa, a foundation that provides opportunities for marginalized women and youth in Tanzania. She has raised over $25,000 a year for Unite, for the past 3 years.

Amy and Nicole’s connections with AWARE are not coincidences.

Soon, Rebecca will take photos of immigrant girls. They come from Eritrea, Congo, Tanzania and Sudan, and live in Fairfield and New Haven Counties. They’re sponsored by the Connecticut institute for Refugees and Immigrants — the organization that AWARE is partnering with this year.

Portraits are something tangible, Rebecca says, that they are their families and cherish for generations.

Portraits are dear to Rebecca’s heart. Her great-grandfather lived in Czechoslovakia, when World War II broke out. He prepared his family as best he could — including having a family portrait taken just before Germany seized the country.

That family portrait is all Rebecca’s mother knew of her grandparents. They were killed by the Nazis.

Rebecca’s mission is to ensure that all generations can admire their families, remembering them through portraits that bring out their true beauty and personalities.

(The portrait show opening is this Friday, March 15, 6 to 7 p.m. at Suzuki Music School, 246 Post Road East — the lower level of Colonial Green.)

Give The Ukulele Some Props

In high school, Peter Propp’s rock band played covers of the Clash, Talking Heads and Pink Floyd all around Albany. Later, in New York in the 1980s, he had a (quick) gig at CBGB. He went corporate, then got into tech. But he never left music behind.

Growing up in Westport, Orphenian and 1981 Staples High School graduate Suzanne Sherman liked James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. She earned an MBA at Columbia, worked in the recording industry, and is now a longtime and much-loved music teacher at Greens Farms Elementary School.

Peter and Suzanne got married. They share a love of all kinds of music.

Including ukulele.

Suzanne Sherman Propp and Peter Propp, ukes in hand.

They started playing last year, in a Westport YMCA group led by Steve Forlano. When they heard about Connecticut’s Got Talent competition in Norwalk, they submitted a video.

They were selected, and played the Kinks’ “Sunny Afternoon.” That advanced them to the finals, where they performed the Turtles’ “Happy Together.”

Excited by the competition, Steve and Peter decided to produce a Ukulele Festival. They found a perfect, intimate venue: Westport’s Suzuki Music School, on the lower level of Colonial Green.

The event is set for Saturday, September 29. Workshops run from noon to 5 p.m. Concert doors open at 6.

Peter has plenty of experience running tech and business events, for IBM and as CMO for the Stamford Innovation Center.

A music festival is a wee bit different.

He booked national talent like Victoria Vox, and organized a great lineup including the CUkes from Westport, Abe Deshotel (Norwalk) and the Educated Fleas (Bethel).

The Ukulele Festival also features food trucks and local music vendors. Instruments will also be available to borrow.

Peter has had plenty of help, including Factory Underground (handling the live sound). Steve Forlano will be MC and workshop leader.

So who will come? With ukulele’s growing popularity, Peter expects people ages 10 to 70, from all over New York and New England.

Tiny Tim died in 1996. But I’m sure he’ll be there in spirit too.

(Click here for tickets and more information.)