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Series of Free Concerts Set for Tudor City

By Mary Johnson | May 7, 2012 4:18pm
Raissa Katona Bennett is the host, creator and producer of the Concerts for City Greens series. She is also a Broadway singer and recording artist.
Raissa Katona Bennett is the host, creator and producer of the Concerts for City Greens series. She is also a Broadway singer and recording artist.
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Concerts for City Greens

TUDOR CITY — A series of free summer concerts, featuring acclaimed Broadway, cabaret and jazz singers, as well as the semi-finalists in a citywide songwriting contest that began earlier this year.,  is set to kick off in Tudor City on May 30.

While the Concerts for City Greens series, created by Raissa Katona Bennett, a Broadway singer and recording artist, is free and open to the public, organizers will collect donations during the performances to benefit the Tudor City Greens, the privately maintained parks in the neighborhood that are open to the public.

“We wanted to do something for our community where we live and also bring live music to more people,” said Bennett, who has lived in Tudor City since 1999. “We have people at our shows who have never seen these top nightclub performers.”

The first concert of the season will take place on May 30 beginning at 6:30 p.m. and will feature performances by award-winning cabaret singers Natalie Douglas and Kevin Dozier, as well as jazz pianist John DiPinto.

Songs from two of the eight semi-finalists in the Concerts for City Greens songwriting contest — whittled down from a pool of dozens of submissions — will be performed at the May 30 show.

Entries from the remaining six semi-finalists will be featured at upcoming Tudor City concerts throughout the summer, Bennett explained.

The focus of the songwriting contest, which drew entries from seasoned pros and amateurs alike, was to create music centered on the importance of open space in New York, Bennett said.

A panel of celebrity judges, including rock ‘n’ roll legend Neil Sedaka and MTV executive Matthew Parillo, evaluated each submission to whittle the list down to the top eight.

Those who have made the cut so far include Grammy nominee Larry Kerchner, film and stage actor Will Reynolds, a songwriting duo from NYU’s Tisch graduate musical theater writing program and a Brooklyn-based songwriting collective known as Inland Traveler.

At the end of the season, after all the semi-finalist songs have been performed live in Tudor City, fans will be able to vote online for their favorites.

The top three songwriters chosen from those online votes will then perform at a concert later this fall at the famed nightclub Feinstein's at the Loews Regency, where the ultimate winner will be determined, Bennett said.

Following the May 30 kick-off, four more concerts are scheduled to take over the south park in Tudor City, located between East 41st and 42nd streets between First and Second avenues.

The 6:30 p.m. shows are scheduled for June 20, Aug. 1, Sept. 12 and Oct. 3.

Performers for those dates have yet to be announced, but Bennett maintains the most up-to-date schedule of performances on her website.