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Martha Stewart with Christopher Herbert and Kathy Sloane
Martha Stewart with Christopher Herbert and Kathy Sloane

Chosan Nguyen and Sara Herbert-Galloway
Chosan Nguyen and Sara Herbert-Galloway
Tony Bennett with Alyson Cambridge, Blythe Gaissert and Jennifer Aylmer
Tony Bennett with Alyson Cambridge, Blythe Gaissert and Jennifer Aylmer
Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett Benefits
Music In The Inner City

HE day Joel Klein took the job as chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, Tony Bennett started calling him. The legendary singer said he and his wife Susan wanted to start a school in Astoria, Queens, in memory of Frank Sinatra.

"That’s great," the schools chancellor said. The chancellor and the singer both grew up on the streets of Astoria.

"But why don’t we call it the Tony Bennett School?" the chancellor suggested.

"No," the singer insisted. "It has to be in memory of Frank."

"That shows the decency and humanity of Tony," the chancellor said at the Sing for Hope annual gala in October at 583 Park Avenue, an event space in an elegant building that was designed by Delano & Aldrich and built in 1923.

(After a decade overseeing the city’s schools, Klein left at the end of 2010 to become CEO of News Corporation’s new education unit.)

"It was a dream my wife and I had for 15 years," Bennett said. "Every school in the country would have an arts program, so there will be more arts in the United States than any country in the world."

He said he’s planning seven schools. "We’re working on every rich person in the country to open schools for the arts."

Bennett was guest of honor at the Sing for Hope dinner, along with Ann Ziff and Ronald Perelman. Perelman, the Revlon chief, was a no-show with good reason: He had tied the knot the night before with his psychiatrist girlfriend, Dr. Anna Chapman, making her his fifth wife.

Founded by opera singers, Sing for Hope mobilizes world class artists, from classical musicians to photographers to Broadway performers to volunteer in cultural programs for schools, hospitals and communities.

Ziff was honored for her passion for social work and music. Last year she made the largest gift to the Metropolitan Opera.

"My mother was an opera singer," she said. "Much to mother’s dismay I enjoyed Elvis Presley and even pretended to be Jerry Lee Lewis. Luckily I outgrew that and my music tastes elevated slightly."

Ziff’s music taste elevated to such a degree that today she is managing director and board co-chairman of the Metropolitan Opera, and vice chairman of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Opera star Renee Fleming said her fantasy is for Sing for Hope to expand nationwide.

The organization mobilizes artists of all dimensions – classical musicians, opera singers, Broadway performers, photographers – to serve the community in volunteer programs in schools and hospitals. www.singforhope.org.

Dr. David Muller, dean if medical education at Mount Sinai Medical Center, said Sing for Hope "brings not iPods but live people to volunteer in the hospitals."

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