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  • November 28, 2014

Sing for Siteman - Ladue News: Charities & Non-Profits

Sing for Siteman

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Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:41 pm, Mon Jun 2, 2014.

Almost everyone is impacted at some point in their life by cancer—either personally, or through a friend or family member. “There’s a tie that people have when they have survived something like that,” says Cheri Fromm, co-chair of this year’s Sing for Siteman event. “They see everyone as a part of their sisterhood or brotherhood.”

In Sing for Siteman’s fifth year, the annual concert already has created another unique bond to add to that kinship, adds event co-chair Kim Eberlein. “The people who come once realize that they don’t want to miss it again. Hearing music in this setting together—when everyone’s singing for this purpose—creates another tie that you wouldn’t have otherwise. The music affects everybody.”

This year, Sing for Siteman will bring together eight Opera Theatre of Saint Louis artists with accompaniment by acclaimed pianist and event founder Carol Wong, raising funds for the Director’s Discovery Fund at Siteman Cancer Center. Wong created the event in honor of her parents, who both battled cancer. “It amazes me—every year, it’s a different cast of singers who are in St. Louis to perform; and every year, they so much want to do this,” Eberlein says. “They feel so strongly that—while they may not be able to give $10,000—they can do this to support cancer research. It’s incredible that they’re motivated to do this in a city where they’re simply passing through to sing a role.”

This year’s event will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 9, at the new Performing Arts Center at John Burroughs School. The participating artists have graced the stages of The Metropolitan Opera, the English National Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago, among others, and will be in residence in St. Louis this summer to play principal roles in the 2014 Festival Season at Opera Theatre. They include: Stephanie Blythe, who will portray Gertrude Stein in the world premier of Twenty-Seven; Tobias Greenhalgh, who will portray several characters in the same opera; René Barbara, Susannah Biller and Patrick Carfizzi, who will perform in The Elixir of Love; Elizabeth Zharoff, who will play Pamina in The Magic Flute; Sean Panikkar, who will play Tamino and is known as one of the three tenors on last season’s America’s Got Talent; and Levi Hernandez, who will also perform in The Magic Flute.

Each performer chooses his or her own pieces to perform, which adds to the intimate emotional setting of the event. “I think what’s so lovely is that you get to experience opera singers doing their opera pieces, or cabaret or gospel, or a fun Broadway piece,” Fromm says. “It’s their choice, so they bring a lot of enthusiasm. You don’t have to be an opera expert—it introduces you to opera if you aren’t one. Or if you already know these stars, it’s a great way to see them in their own element—all for a good cause.”

After the performance, guests can enjoy a wine and dessert reception, which offers a chance to mingle with the stars. “Because we have such great, generous people who are donating all of this, it means all of the funds we raise go directly to Siteman,” Fromm notes. “If you talk to Dr. Tim (Eberlein, director of Siteman Cancer Center), it’s amazing how much today’s cancer treatments have advanced in such a short time. Not every patient who has breast cancer, for example, is treated the same way anymore, because not all treatments are necessary for each person. It helps people to survive cancer without so many terrible side effects, because the research has helped determine how to treat individual people best.”

And Siteman’s Discovery Fund is able to put funds to immediate use for the most pressing needs—whether it be laboratory research, clinical research or recruitment, Eberlein notes. “I see every day the need for more funding for cancer research, and I see how many people are affected. This is such a unique way to use music to help support research.”

Sing for Siteman

7:30 p.m., Monday, June 9

John Burroughs School Performing Arts Center

Tickets: $100 (preferred seating), $50 (open seating)

961-0644 or opera-stl.org/SingForSiteman

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