herb alpert & lani hall

Harlem School of the Arts Inaugural Leadership Award recipient Herb Alpert is joined by his wife and singer Lani Hall

*Iconic trumpeter and philanthropist Herb Alpert never toots his own horn about his generous support for the arts because he prefers anonymity leaving boasting rights about his noble nature to others.  Case in point, The Herb Alpert Foundation made an unprecedented grant to the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) of $5,050,000 – the largest single gift to any cultural institution in Harlem – bringing their total giving to HSA to more than $6 million since 2010.

HSA is a community-based cultural and educational institution located in Harlem’s historic Hamilton Heights that has served children and families of all backgrounds for nearly 50 years since its formation in 1964 by pioneering concert soprano Dorothy Maynor.

HSA heralded Alpert’s charitable donation by honoring him at its fall 2012 Benefit at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse hosted by Fox News channel’s Arthel Neville and attracting leaders drawn from the philanthropic, civic, business, social, cultural, entertainment and media sectors.  The benefit gala raised an additional $200,000 in support of HSA’s world-class arts training programs.

Veteran television news journalist Bill Moyers presented the legendary musician, sculptor, painter, producer and recording industry executive Alpert with HSA’s inaugural leadership award.  Alpert was cited for his compassion and landmark donation that will create an endowment providing scholarships for needy students, further enhance its programs and retire its inherited debt.

In presenting the award to Alpert, Moyers commented, “Herb Alpert is a creative genius.  His career continues to flourish and he continues to use his gifts as an artist and a philanthropist to make our world a better place.”  To commemorate the occasion, the Harlem School of the Arts building will now be known as The Herb Alpert Center, home of the Harlem School of the Arts.

Alpert’s bigheartedness was put on blast throughout the evening.  “This is a remarkable time for the HSA as we commemorate an historic occasion in the near 50-year history of the School,” commented HSA’s Chairman Charles J. Hamilton Jr.  Yvette L. Campbell added, “Thank you, Herb Alpert.  Because of you, the lives of the students at the Harlem School of the Arts will be forever transformed due to your generosity and the vision of the Herb Alpert Foundation.”

NYC’s Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg also weighed in on Alpert’s generosity via a witty and fitting video in which he stated, “Herb Alpert, I want you to know how much it means to all of us in New York City that you would choose to reach out from across the country to help us save one of the most valuable institutions.  You’re an extraordinary artist, and a truly extraordinary benefactor.  On behalf of 8.4 million New Yorkers, congratulations, Herb, and congratulations to the Harlem School of the Arts.”

Rona Sebastian, president of The Herb Alpert Foundation added, “The gift from The Herb Alpert Foundation was designed to put HSA on a path to recovery and bring in other funders.  We allowed them to own their building again and help establish a strong future.  It was exciting to see the HSA kids perform at the Lincoln Center benefit on Wednesday night.”

harlem school students

Harlem School of the Arts Students Perform at Fall Benefit Honoring Herb Alpert

After listening to many personal messages from recording artists including Sting and Bryan Adams who are among the countless artists whose careers were shaped by Herb Alpert and his A&M Records, with his wife, singer Lani Hall by his side, a visibly touched Alpert remarked what this special tribute meant to him.  “A touching and unforgettable night for me, capped off by a thrilling performance by the students of the HSA, who showed us how creativity can transform lives.”

The event featured live performances by HSA’s Advance Jazz Combo and song and dance excerpts from Disney’s The Lion King.  Guests enjoyed the performances and atmosphere with views of Manhattan’s breathtaking West Side skyline in the background while passed hors d’oeuvres were served amidst a lovely fall setting of dahlias and candlelight.

This memorable evening was co-chaired by Cahill Gordon & Reindell LLP and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Wealth Management.  Sponsors included Barnes & Noble; Michelle & Marc Goldfarb of Goldfarb Properties; Mac LaFollette and Dawn Davis; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; Janice S. Williams and Christopher J. Williams; and Lawrence S. Zilavy.

Additional support was provided by Pamela Carlton and Charles J. Hamilton, Jr., Judith Gallant and Scott Metzner, Latham & Watkins LLP, MiYoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, Ann and Alton McDowell, Liz Moller and Robert Lemons, Hee-Jung and John Moon, Steven P. Henry, Dr. Henry Jarecki, Falconwood Foundation Inc., Erin and Christopher Keogh, Celia and Henry McGee, Courtney Lee-Mitchell and Marcus Mitchell, Michelle Fizer Peterson and Julio Peterson, and Reginald Van Lee.  The HSA Fall 2012 benefit committee was chaired by Councilman Robert Jackson and included Wynton Marsalis, Phylicia Rashad, and the Ford Foundation’s Darren Walker.

Joining Harlem School of the Arts president and CEO Yvette L. Campbell, board chairman Charles J. Hamilton, Jr. and vice chair and secretary Janice Savin Williams, were a host of notable individuals including Anita Contini, Bloomberg Philanthropies; New York City Councilwoman Inez Dickens; New York City Councilman Robert Jackson; Dr. Henry Jarecki; Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts; Kate Levin, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; Reynold Levy, president, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; celebrated Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance founder and musician; Arturo O’Farrill, John Rhea, Commissioner of the New York City Housing Authority; Rona Sebastian, president of the Herb Alpert Foundation; Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; Grammy-winning songwriter Valerie Simpson; stage and screen star Tamara Tunie and her husband Gregory Generet; filmmaker Melvin van Peebles; and, Assemblyman Keith Wright, among other notables.  (Photos Credit: Alex Lipowec)

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard