Experience Musical Excellence at the Bender JCC

Polinger Artists of Excellence Concert Series

The Bender JCC presents its 48th season of rising stars and renowned artists in the 2019-2020 concert series that includes familiar faces as well as series debuts. Join us to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th birthday and for magnificent chamber works by Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Liszt, Shostakovich and more. Musicians perform in the Gildenhorn/Speisman Center for the Arts’ intimate Kreeger Auditorium.

The Mount Vernon Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra Concerts

The Bender JCC is pleased to continue our partnership with the Mount Vernon Virtuosi to present exciting FREE chamber orchestra programs in the Kreeger Theater for their 2019-2020 season.  Peabody Conservatory cello faculty artist Amit Peled has established this chamber orchestra in 2018 to nurture, train and support local graduate music students during their auditions period, offering concerts all across Maryland.

This season the Mount Vernon Virtuosi will perform TWO programs on each of five Sundays. We are thrilled to include a 45-minute morning family concert along with the afternoon concert for adults.

Amit Peled, a father of three, says about these special family concerts: “The idea is to have the kids and their families join us on stage for a presentation of 45 minutes. I envision them sitting all around us, participating in the music-making, and we truly hope to ignite in them the same love, joy, and excitement we feel while performing.

Questions about concerts at the Bender JCC? Contact us!


Exploring Opera: Behind-the-Scenes Thursday, August 27th

Exploring Opera: Behind-the-Scenes

Thursday, August 27th
4:00 PM

The Bender JCC is  delighted to partner with our friends at The Osher Marin JCC of San Rafael, CA to bring you 
Exploring Opera: Behind-the-Scenes
Thursdays August 6, 13, 20, 272020 | 4:00 – 5:30 PM (EST) via ZOOM
Series of 4-classes | $60
Single Class | $20

Let former opera professional & instructor James Sokol pull back the curtain and take you on exclusive, behind-the-scenes visits to the opera, while you relax in your home. Each live, online session will feature a different special guest opera professional, who brings his/her unique expertise, experiences & insights to our discussion. Live Q&A and video clips will round out the visit. Come learn, off-stage, what makes the magic happen on-stage!

Optional Opera Chat: If you like, stay after each class for an additional 30-mins to meet other opera lovers in a small “chat room” and discuss a proposed question or just connect over the topic of the small group’s choice. No need to register for the chat; it will be offered at the end of each class


August 6 | Virginia Grasso: The Singer/Teacher

Soprano Virginia Grasso was praised for having a “beautiful, powerful, but at the same time, velvety smooth and flexible voice.” Since retiring from the stage, she has been a prominent voice teacher in NYC. Join our discussion to learn about this diva’s fascinating experiences performing some of opera’s most challenging leading roles including Violetta (La Traviata), Norma, and Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) and gain insights into the vocal demands that she knows as a singer and that she works with as a teacher. A few video performance clips will let us peek on-stage as well! For Grasso’s biography, click here.





August 13 | Ron Valentino: The Vocal Coach

Meet Vocal Coach Ron Valentino – a teacher who helps singers meet the vocal demands of a score, the interpretation of the text and the musical lines which, ultimately, shapes their entire performance.  What are the ins & outs of his work?  How does a Vocal Coach differ from a Voice Teacher?  What training is required to take on this role? How does he prepare singers to go “from the page to the stage?” Watch video clips of two arias and learn how this coach would focus on interpretive details to help turn a “singer” into an “artist.” Don’t miss this fascinating visit, not only “behind the scenes,” but also “into a coach’s studio!” For Valentino’s biography, click here.




August 20 | Francesco Milioto: The Conductor

A rising star in the younger generation of conductors, Francesco Milioto is forging a unique career as a versatile interpreter of both the operatic and orchestral repertoire. Praised for his energy and integrity on the podium, the Chicago Tribune has said, “Milioto presided with Bernsteinesque bravura.” Learn about his roles as guest conductor and cover/assistant conductor with several distinguished opera companies including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera and more. Gain insights into the joys, challenges and differences of working on operas as varied as Verdi’s romantic La Traviata or Puccini’s veristic Madama Butterfly, Wagner’s majestic Die Walküre or Massenet’s elegant Cendrillon. A few video performance clips will highlight our visit. For Milioto’s biography, click here.


August 27 | Emil Miland:  The Orchestra

From making his solo debut with the San Francisco Symphony at age 16 to serving as founding Principal Cellist of the New Century Chamber Orchestra for a decade, to being a member of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since 1988, cellist Emil Miland brings his breadth and depth of performing experience & insights to our “backstage” visit. Hear about his learning, rehearsing & performing as an acclaimed soloist, chamber musician, orchestra cellist and recital collaborator with soloists including Joyce DiDonato, Marilyn Horne, Frederica von Stade, and many others. Video clips provide a taste of Miland’s artistry! For Miland’s biography, click here


REGISTRATION through EventBrite must be received by 3:00 PM (EST) on the Wednesday before the first class. The Zoom confirmation & link to class will be sent to all Eventbrite registrants by 6:00 PM (EST) the Wednesday before the class.  Please check your email between 6:00-8:00 PM (EST) the Wednesday before the class to make sure you have the Zoom confirmation & link.  If it’s not in your “inbox,” please check “junk” or “spam” folders.   No confirmation?  Please contact Danielle at or Marcie Blackman, Bender JCCat


GUEST ARTISTS, just like at the opera, are subject to change!

Registrations are non-refundable & non-exchangeable. Unfortunately, single classes cannot be credited to series purchase.

Questions?  Email James at 

Learn more about our phased reopening!