HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- CiviCure is a nonprofit whose mission is to aid the "revitalization of the Hoosick economy through active stewardship" of the community's culture and the arts.

To put a focus on the village's potential in the region's arts corridor, CiviCure is working with the Hoosac School, 14 County Road 103, to host New York Metropolitan Opera star Oren Gradus and Barcelona Liceu Opera House's Mariona Pallach for a concert of arias and show tunes on Saturday, July 26.

A $20 ticket reservation includes a 7 p.m. hors d'oeuvres reception on the east lawn of the Hoosac School's Tibbits Mansion. The concert will start at 8 p.m. in the auditorium, followed by dessert, coffee and a chance to meet the performers.

Diana Gradus, who is a member of the CiviCure board, is the mother of Oren Gradus. During a visit to Spain, she and her son invited Pallach and her family for a stay in the States. Of her son, Gradus said, "I thought this would be a great way to take advantage of his talents."

In the area for five weeks on a personal invitation, Pallach and Oren Gradus will take one night to switch off solo performances and a few duets to the piano accompaniment of Jennifer Peterson for an hour show.

"This is something that is rather unusual to performances in this area," Diana Gradus said. "This shows the kind of arts we could attract to the area and this (particular) performance is a great opportunity at a good price.


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CiviCure president Ed Gorman said that arts have an effect on tourism and community vibrancy, of which has spending potential as an economic engine.

"This concert is not so much (functioning) as a fundraiser, as it is a promotion for the kind of performances that could be available in the Wood Block Building."

The performers are working on a volunteer basis. All proceeds for the opera concert will go into the fund for the restoration of the Wood Block Building, 5 Main St., which has been abandoned for decades.

Once home to retail, office and apartment space in addition to two grand ballrooms on the third floor, the Wood Block Building was seen as an opportunity to revitalize the arts in downtown Hoosick Falls by CiviCure's late founder Rolf Sternberg.

The building has been maintained by the Wood Block Association for the past 10 years as CiviCure compiles a well-organized and well-funded plan to restore the building with the backing of the village residents.

CiviCure stands for "Civic and Cultural Restoration." Gorman said he would like to continue Sternberg's drive to redevelop the Wood Block Building into art studio and theater space to bring people into downtown.

"We are still considered to be a part of an ‘arts corridor' between Hoosick, Bennington, Williamstown (Mass.), North Adams (Mass.) and Cambridge," Gorman said. "If we are able to market this all the way through, we could take advantage of the tourists that come through here (for other reasons) and become a destination."

As the village and the town work together to forge an economic revitalization plan, Gorman said the arts should be a large component.

"We've got some industry, but we need more diversity," Gorman said. "Culture and arts are vitally important to be able to have a place to visit and draw people in."

Although CiviCure is putting on the concert to further its own advancement and publicity of the Wood Block Building project, the organization asked the Hoosac School to host it and aid in celebrating the school's ties to the community and its 125 years as a private preparatory school.

Visit CiviCure online at http://www.civicure.org/index.html. To attend the opera concert, register online, by phone at 518-686-4258 or by emailing civicure@gmail.org.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg