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August 5, 2011 > Rotarians and musicians support literacy

Rotarians and musicians support literacy

By Simon Wong

Hayward Rotary Club and Neumanali Restaurant (742 B Street, Hayward) hosted the inaugural concert of the Hayward Chamber Players, a trio of world-class musicians, in support of the Hayward Rotary Foundation Dictionary Project which provides every eight-year old in a Hayward Unified School District elementary school with a dictionary. The Project is in its seventh year.

Almost 70 Rotarians and their friends were treated to virtuoso performances on July 31, 2011, by violinist Corina Stoian, cellist Alexandru Dumitrache and pianist Ron Brickman whom Hayward piano teacher Cathy O'Connor assisted, as page-turner.

Stoian's musical career began at an early age, performing with prominent symphony orchestras throughout Romania while still a student at the prestigious Conservatory of Music, Bucharest, and winning numerous prizes in national violin and chamber music competitions. She studied further at the famous Folkwang Musikhochschule (Conservatory of Music), Essen, in Germany. Stoian has resided in the USA since August 2006 and has appeared as a soloist at the Bear Valley Music Festival, the Lesher Center for the Arts (Walnut Creek), with the Merced Symphony, Auburn Symphony, Academy at All Hallows Orchestra (Sacramento), Folsom Lake Symphony, at the Sonora Bach Festival and in numerous recitals and concerts in Amador and Calaveras counties. She has featured as a soloist in Italy, France, Israel, Bulgaria, Germany and Switzerland.

The violinist is also a coach with the second annual Hayward Odd Fellows' two-week, intensive master class series for youth, ages 12 to 19. The children, from far and wide, organize as trios and quartets, play small chamber music for two hours each evening and will perform for members and guests on August 15, 2011.

Dumitrache was born in Bucharest and joined the Bucharest Conservatory of Music aged 11. He won First Prize in the prestigious National Cello Competition, in Romania, when he was 17 and was invited to record and perform with the Romanian National Broadcast Symphony; he continued his studies at the University of Illinois where he earned his Master's degree. Dumitrache has performed throughout Romania as a recitalist and has appeared as a soloist with many European and American orchestras.

Brickman is an accomplished soloist, recitalist, chamber musician and accompanist. As President of the Mother Lode Friends of Music, the classical music-performance organization serving the central region of the Sierra Nevada foothills, he organizes and performs in several concerts each season. He has appeared at the Crocker Museum (Sacramento), the Berkley City Club, the St. James Chamber Series (Sonora) and at other venues across the nation and internationally. He resides in California's historic Gold Rush Country, now known as Calaveras County.

The program consisted of classically-arranged popular music from around the world. An extremely appreciative audience was treated to masterful renditions of folk tunes, English country dances, Spanish tangos, Hungarian dances, Argentinean tangos, American rag, Russian waltzes, Brazilian rumbas and Grigoras Dinicu's The Lark. Hayward residents Stoian and Dumitrache are the best kept secrets of the Hayward and Greater Bay Area arts scene. The surprise was palpable.

"The Dictionary Project is Hayward Rotary's signature project," explained Pam Russo, Executive Director of St. Rose Hospital Foundation and newly-elected president of Hayward Rotary; Russo is the third female president in the club's 90-year history. "This is the first time we've held an event like this; the owner of Neumanali Restaurant knows Corina and Alex, approached me and Robin Wilma and we thought it would be a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon for the good of children and the community. Rotary serves many, including youth and families."

Locally, Hayward Rotary's theme for 2011-12 is "Bucks," a simple way of raising funds, a little and often, with fun activities such as blind wine-tasting. Rotary International's theme is "Reach within to Embrace Humanity" - giving back, giving of oneself, "Service Above Self."

"I'd encourage everyone to support Rotary and our causes. Rotarians may bring guests to meetings to learn about what we do," said Russo. "After attending my first meeting as a new Rotarian, I accompanied George Pacheco to Child Spree of which he was Chair; the following year we were co-Chairs. Child Spree helped prepare under-served children to return to school with a backpack and a $100 Mervyns gift certificate. Each adult guided a child around the store for new clothes and school supplies. That was my first experience; there was an emotional investment. We also have fun doing what we do. Each year, Rotary grants, our Dictionary Project and a Presidential project amount to approximately $70,000 that we give back to the community."

"We hope the Hayward Chamber Players' inaugural concert becomes a tradition and grows and flourishes," said Brickman. "Community and public support will enable top musicians to perform together in people's homes and in other venues."

"Your music is magnificent; totally different for our community and very welcome. It's a treat to have you here," stated local businessman John Wilma who, with Ken Meirovitz, launched the Dictionary-Literacy Project for Hayward's Third Graders after he saw two job seekers struggling to complete application forms more than seven years ago. "We must thank Julie McKillop of Neumanali Restaurant for the fine food and wines, our musicians who generously performed gratis and everyone who supported this benefit concert for the Dictionary Project. Thanks also to Jay Ifshin, of Ifshin Violins in El Cerrito, for his $250 donation. Today's event and the success of the Dictionary Project are only possible with everyone's continued support."

For more information:

Hayward Chamber Players
Contact Corina Stoian at (510) 363-3403 or email

Mother Lode Friends of Music
Visit or email Ron Brickman at

Ifshin Violins
Visit, call (510) 843-5466 or email

Hayward Rotary
Visit or call club secretary, Mona Diamantine, at (510) 632-0804.

Third Grade Dictionary-Literacy Project
Call John Wilma at (510) 881-0106. Check donations can be sent to Hayward Rotary, c/o John Wilma, 25571 Dollar Street, Hayward, CA 94544-2543. Please make checks payable to "Hayward Rotary Foundation Dictionary Project." Contributions to the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, are tax deductible.

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