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By The Sea: The Best Way To Spend A Sunday Afternoon: Algonquin Hosts Cecelia Foundation Benefit on May 29 at 3 p.m.

May 18, 2016

Caption: Seashore-themed paintings by Stephan Silipigni including "Red Boat" will be projected above the Orchestra during the May 29 benefit concert 'By The Sea.'

MANASQUAN (May 18, 2016) - How under the sun could anything be better than spending the afternoon of Sunday, May 29, with Father Alphonse Stephenson, the 45-member Orchestra of St. Peter By The Sea and highly-talented young Garden State musicians?

The answer is by multiplying the media at the 3 p.m. concert. Colorful waterscapes by celebrated artist Stephan Silipigni will be projected on the screen over the orchestra during the "By The Sea" benefit at Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan.

All proceeds go to The Cecilia Foundation, which was founded by Father Alphonse nearly 30 years ago to gift professional instruments and scholarships to deserving high-school and college students.

"It is going to be a truly special way to welcome summer," Father Alphonse stated. "Great popular and classic music, amazing colorful images and heart-warming experiences with inspiring young people. I can't think of a better way to enjoy the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend with family and other guests."

Father Alphonse reports that the first half of the musical program will present well-known sea-related songs, including the "Banana Boat Song" popularized by Harry Belafonte, Otis Redding's "Dock of The Bay," and "Beyond The Sea," which was first sung by Bobby Darin.

The second half of the matinee will feature classical music inspired by water, including Handel's "Water Music" and Strauss's "Blue Danube." Throughout the matinee, the audience will share the excitement when the newest recipients of Cecelia Foundation gifts are announced.

The great afternoon in Manasquan will continue during the show intermission, when the audience is invited to meet artist Silipigni and see his work up close, on the walls of the adjacent Victoria J. Mastrobuono Studio to meet the artist and see his work up close.

Originally from Rhode Island, the artist brings his New England perspective to artworks best described as "awe inspiring, colors and hues flow off Stephan's brush." Uniquely a primarily self-taught painter, Mr. Silipigni holds degrees in Philosophy and Theology. He currently works at the University of Maryland.

"It is my hope," he states, "to immerse the viewer in the transcendental experience of nature - the power of a sunrise, the serenity of a sunset, the lone boat stuck in the marsh or out on the vast sea."

Algonquin Arts Theatre has donated the use of the theatre space for the performance and is supporting promotional efforts to allow for the maximum proceed from the event to go toward the foundation. Tickets for this magical matinee start at $43 for adults, $40 for seniors and $33 for students and can be reserved by calling (732) 528-9211, going online to and by visiting the Algonquin Box Office at 173 Main Street in Manasquan. Discounts are available for groups of 12 or more.

Cecelia Foundation gifts instruments and scholarships to NJ's deserving young musical talents

Since he created The Cecelia Foundation, Father Alphonse has "given away violins, violas, cellos, basses, flutes, trombones, drums... you name it," he said. The new instruments are awarded during a concert as a surprise to their young recipients. "It is always an emotional moment for everyone at the event," Father Alphonse stated.

Primary funding for the Foundation have been from sales of the Orchestra's recordings and through the generosity of the Paul F. Zito M.D. Foundation and an Arts and Cultural Grant from the OceanFirst Foundation.

The gifting criteria includes a recommendation from the musician's teacher, a respectable academic record and financial need.

"Financial cutbacks in school are the order of the day," Father Alphonse said. "Arts programs are often among the first to be cut, and family budgets are strained, and the quality of instruments available to aspiring musicians through school systems often discourage the student from practicing. As the student begins to gain a certain degree of proficiency, an instrument capable of responding to the evolving talent serves as an encouragement to the growing musician."

Father Alphonse's unique multi-faceted calling as a Roman Catholic priest has included being conductor of the Broadway production of "A Chorus Line" for thousands of performances and leading the Orchestra he founded to performance at Carnegie Hall. Until his recent retirement, Father Alphonse also served as an Air Force Chaplain of the Air National Guard and Brigadier General. Posted at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Father Alphonse was the Director of the National Guard Joint Chaplaincy.

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