Lehman Center for the Performing Arts' executive director Era Bornstein's self-described mission is to bring exciting and affordable entertainment to the Bronx--programming that, in her words, also educates and enlightens, and she has certainly been delivering! Willie Rosario and Eddie Montalvo, Brian McKnight and Tiro Nieves, Raphy Leavitt y La Selecta and The Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Gilberto Santa Rosa and Tito Nieves; the Legends of Salsa (led by percussionist Jimmy Delgado, and featuring a host of luminaries, such as Adalberto Santiago, Bobby Cruz, Lalo Rodríguez, Orestes Vilató, Nicky Marrero, Mike Collazo, Richie Ray, Luis "Perico" Ortiz and Andy González); and "International Salsa" (featuring Grupo Niche, Ismael Miranda, and José Alberto "El Canario") are some examples of the creative pairings and groupings presented by Bornstein, since the beginning of 2008.
The Lehman Center for the Performing Art's upcoming season begins with a bang, focusing on Latin jazz and opening by October 11th with The Latin Giants of Jazz featuring Eddie Palmieri, Giovanni Hidalgo and The Latin Giants (formerly known as the Tito Puente Orchestra).
"I'm so delighted," says Bornstein, "that we have a huge Latino population in the Bronx. My staff and I have developed a real bond with the community and a mutual admiration."
Born in Krakow--a Polish city steeped in culture--Bornstein attended her hometown's High School of Drama, and states that the arts were "always in her blood." She has a great love for Latin music, especially for her favorite artist, José Feliciano. "I grew up listening to him," she says. "He's definitely a cross-over artist." This coming December 13th, Lehman presents "José Feliciano. Feliz Navidad," billed as "a special holiday celebration with a family favorite."
According to Bornstein, jazz artists have long been respected and imitated in Poland. "Poles," she adds, "have a soft spot for Latin music and anything with a great beat! We connect, soul-wise!"
Noted for her leadership abilities, innovative accomplishments and knack for starting up new venues, Bornstein left her native country in the 1970s, and after spending time in London, England, she settled in Canada, where she attended Toronto's York University. She founded the first Canadian Mozart Festival in Ontario, and even brought Dizzy Gillespie to Canada. (It was the jazz icon's first visit to that country.)
She's been presenting musical events since 1975...