Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 21 August 2009 00:00
Over the years, the Village of Roslyn has produced more than its share of creative artists. Some, such as William Cullen Bryant and Christopher Morley, adopted Roslyn as their hometown. Others such as the prolific novelist Michael Crichton grew up in the village and as often is the case with ambitious small town youth, sought their fame elsewhere.
One artist who grew up in Roslyn and who has stayed at home is composer and pianist Kokila Jodi Bennett.
Kokila grew up on both the Sands Point Preserve and in the Village of Roslyn. Her parents were curators for the Nassau County Museum of Art. Their profession and a childhood living near historic estates and castles made Kokila more comfortable with the past, when, as she put it, “carriages were the mode of transport, not cars and when the sounds and sights of nature were acres of land all around and not suburbia.”
Ms. Bennett’s mother was also a folk singer and this led her to the world of music. Growing up in Roslyn, the music of Chopin, Shubert and other romantic composers were a big inspiration to Kokila, who was trained in classical music. Also important was the influence of British culture in the Bennett household and on the old Long Island of estates and castles.
In 1993, after her mother died, Kokila started composing, partly as a way to ease the grief from her mother’s passing, but also, she said, as part of a spiritual quest. In time, Kokila had found that her music had greatly comforted her ailing mother and people started buying her recordings to play for people who were ill, even seriously so.
In addition, Kokila began performing her music on solo piano around libraries and museums in the New York area. Soon, Ms. Bennett found a producer who helped her with her first CD, Celtic Angels, released in 1994. After that she worked alone and has released numerous recordings through her own label, Avalon Isle Music.
Among her other recordings are: Enchanted Dreams (1998), Magic and Mystery (2002), Trilogy, a three-disc set released in 2004, and a 2007 re-release of Enchanted Dreams.
In addition to her live performances and recordings, Kokila also enjoys giving piano lessons to young people living throughout Long Island.
Recently Kokila has started singing along with her solo piano performances and has released new recordings on YouTube and other places on the Web.
“My childhood here in Roslyn and at the Preserve has had a special place in the development of my career and creative expression,” she said. “Being able to live close to our past history has helped me shape a more introspective nature and spiritual life rich in experience and imagination.”
Ms. Bennett’s next live performance will be Saturday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m., when along with master Lutanist Chris Moriangello, she will be giving a Lute and recorder concert in a private historic home in Oyster Bay. Call 987-7623 for reservations and directions.
Kokila can be reached for private lessons, or for performing at private events or public concerts through her website http://kokilamusic.com or by phone at 987-7623.