Written by Melissa Argueta Friday, 09 September 2011 00:00Kathleen Mucciolo-Kolins has always lived a life surrounded by beautiful music. As the president and founder of the Music and Theatre Legacy Foundation, the Garden City resident devotes much of her time to giving the gift of music education and theatre arts to local youth through a series of collaborative learning programs and initiatives.
Her passion for the arts began as a child growing up in Floral Park, where she first became interested in acting, the stage and musical theatre and it blossomed into young adulthood. “I remember the teachers who worked with me all the way through high school and college, and made an indelible mark on me. I knew I wanted to be involved in the theatre arts in some capacity,” Mucciolo-Kolins recalls.
Earning her master’s degree in Fine Arts in Theatre at Adelphi University, Mucciolo-Kolins was afforded the opportunity of a lifetime to work alongside David Merrick, one of Broadway’s top theater directors. “I think, at that point, I really got bit by the acting bug. The education I received interning with a very famous, well-known New York City director of theatre was immeasurable and worth tenfold more than anything I could have learned from a book,” she said.
As a teaching artist, actor and director of theatre, the Long Island native graduated from the Lincoln Center Institute and has worked with children in the performing arts, from grades seven through college. Professionally, she achieved success acting in and directing many Off-Broadway productions. While her career continued to flourish, she knew she always wanted to bring the history and legacies of musical theatre and the performing arts back to the forefront of today’s educational programming.
In 2009, she created the Music and Theatre Legacy Foundation, a not-for-profit arts in education foundation ‘committed to transforming young people through theatre arts and the performing arts.’ The concept behind the organization is to support teaching through the process of ‘creative engagement’ or ‘engaged learning,’ according to Mucciolo-Kolins. “Engaged learning is the most powerful part of arts in education because it’s a collaborative experience. You learn by doing,” she explained.
Mucciolo-Kolins points out that one of the Foundation’s most important goals is to raise the bar on the exposure to the world-class legacies of the performing arts and to build a bridge to a new generation of audiences through arts in education. “If we don’t try to light that flame and keep that flicker alive, they will never know the world-class music that has grown through the generations,” she explained.
The Foundation’s first major event was sponsoring a concert where local middle school students had the rare opportunity to sing with world-renowned tenor Michael Amante.
“Michael Amante is a great supporter of arts in education and has worked with the foundation specifically through music education. When working with a local Long Island middle school, he opted not to audition any of the young students in the existing chorus but rather wanted all of the children to be involved in the process leading up to his concert. They rehearsed with him, had a walk through at the venue, a sound check, a dress rehearsal and finally a memorable performance ‘live’ in front of more than 2,500 people. That is engaged learning at its very best, they were not just watching a concert or a performer, but were a part of the performance,” she explained.
While audience members and ticket sales proved the show a rousing success, Mucciolo-Kolins explains that the most rewarding part of the experience was the difference it made in students’ lives. “It was the gentle thank-you letters and notes that I received from the children that simply stated, ‘I will remember this day for the rest of my life.’ Now that is what makes the mission of the Foundation come alive,” she said.
Mucciolo-Kolins said having stars like Amante help her Foundation accomplish its mission is something that is key to its continued success. “Michael has committed time and his artistry to the Music and Theatre Legacy Foundation and his gift of song is deserving of a standing ovation. It is a pleasure to work with him and rewarding for me to see this professional musician use his voice to educate through the positive power of music,” Mucciolo-Kolins said.
In a recent interview with Garden City Life, Amante applauded the ongoing work of the Music and Theatre Legacy Foundation, which is co-sponsoring his upcoming performance at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on Sept. 17. “We need people like Kathleen [Mucciolo-Kolins]. With budget cuts taking away from our arts programs, the work of the Foundation is necessary. She’s very generous and without her, young people are not going to get the experience, the music and the enrichment that it brings,” Amante said.
Kathleen Mucciolo-Kolins, founder of Music and Theatre Legacy Foundation, is co-sponsoring (along with Astur Productions, Inc.) “An Evening of Romance,” with Michael Amante and guest duet soprano Marissa Famiglietti. The evening features an extensive repertoire of Romantic, Classical, Contemporary and Broadway songs, on Saturday, September 17, at 8 p.m., at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, C.W. Post Campus/Long Island University, 720 Northern Blvd., Route 25A, Brookville.
To purchase tickets, call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000; Tilles Center’s Box Office at 516-288-3100; or visit the website at www.tillescenter.org. You may also purchase tickets, by calling Music and Theatre Legacy Foundation at 516-455-9393 or 516-248-3734. Seats are $57; $47; and $37.