LAURI STRAUSS FOUNDATION NY Pops Carries On
Without Beloved Skitch S HE has in past years, Skitch Henderson worked passionately for the annual Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation gala benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. His New York Pops performed magnificently – without him. Skitch, beloved by all who knew him, died at age 87 on Nov. 1, three weeks before the concert.
The audience gave a standing ovation in his memory and the show went on.
Folk singer Judy Collins, who worked the benefit every year since its inception 16 years ago, said she stood on this stage for the first time in 1963 with Theodore Bikel.
"I took Social Security this year before it runs out," she announced proudly.
Tony Danza warbled Put On a Happy Face and Metropolitan Opera baritone Mark Rucker sang in tribute to the late opera star Robert Merrill. Broadway favorite Len Cariou also sang. He appeared in two Charles Strouse shows, Applause and Dance a Little Closer, which was his first Broadway musical.
For her wizardry at the piano, Di Wu brought the audience to their feet. Born in China, the brilliant child prodigy began her piano study at age four. She’s pursuing her Master Degree at Juilliard School.
The evening was a tribute to the venerable Broadway composer Charles Strouse. Fellow composer Sheldon Harnick hailed Strouse for creating Annie and Bye Bye Birdie, "enduring masterworks of the American musical theater."
"This is Carnegie Hall!" Friars dean Freddie Roman declared. "It’s not chopped liver."
Herb and Evelyn Strauss founded the organization in memory of daughter Lauri who died of leukemia in 1984 at age 26. It funds leukemia research. For which it has given $3 million and has generated close to $100 million in matching funds.
Chairman Donald E. Bindler presented the Victor of the Year Award to Jay Patel, of Long Island. He survived a harrowing bout with leukemia that forced him to have years of home schooling. He currently attends Harvard, majoring in physics.