Artists for Autism at the Bardavon

Autism and its related syndromes seem to be all over the news these days. One can’t help wondering whether, for some environmental reason, more children are now being diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorders than in decades past, or if we have always had many such people among us, simply unrecognized and unassisted in their struggles to cope in society. The more one hears about autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and the like, the more one realizes how many people in one’s life have had to contend with the limitations that these disorders impose.

While “autism awareness” among the masses has grown slowly, certain social service and health care organizations have long worked in relative obscurity to make life more manageable for people who are neurologically challenged to handle the daily social challenges and sensory overload of modern life. Here in the Hudson Valley, the Center for Spectrum Services, formerly known as the Children’s Annex, has been dedicated since 1976 to providing clinical and diagnostic services tailored to children with autism-spectrum disorders, as well as training Special Education teachers and social workers in the best practices for working with this population. With two centers located in Kingston and Ellenville, the Center for Spectrum Services’ outreach extends to children and families from 55 school districts in 14 counties throughout the Hudson Valley.

It’s a noble cause and a greatly needed menu of services. So it’s heartening to hear that the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, the county executives’ offices of Ulster and Dutchess County and a whole raft of mid-Hudson businesses are getting together to present “Artists for Autism”: a gala classical music concert to raise autism awareness and funds for the Center for Spectrum Services. International flute superstar Eugenia Zukerman, pianist Inon Barnatan and the Voxare String Quartet will headline the gala to be held at the Bardavon this Saturday, September 29, beginning at 7 p.m. Works by Chopin, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Wagner and Dvorak will be on the program.

Restaurants on both sides of the Hudson River are supporting Artists for Autism with early dinner seatings, wonderful menus and a guarantee that patrons will get to the concert on time and that Spectrum Services will receive a percentage of the early dinner revenues. Coppola’s La Fantasia Ristorante and Sal’s Place in Highland, P & G’s in New Paltz, Brasserie 292, Bull and Buddha, Crave and Market Street Bar & Grill in Poughkeepsie and Coppola’s Italian Ristorante in Hyde Park have all signed on as “Restaurant Partners.”

“We hope people will come up to the Valley and spend the day enjoying all that our area has to offer: sightsee, pick apples, enjoy the extraordinary view from the Walkway over the Hudson pedestrian bridge, visit the art galleries, go antiquing; then, take advantage of the early sittings at these great restaurants and top off the evening with us at Artists for Autism in the historic and beautiful Bardavon 1869 Opera House,” says Laurie A. Rich, director of the Spectrum Services Foundation.

Business sponsors of the gala include CD/PHP, the Rosenbaum Media Group, TD Bank, Ulster Savings Bank, Covanta Energy, Church Communities, Loeb & Troper, Wells Fargo Advisors, Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, the Hudson Valley Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Rotavele Elevator, the Dutchess County and Ulster County Regional Chambers of Commerce, Dutchess Tourism, Ulster Tourism, Rose & Kiernan, Inc., Hometown Bank of the Hudson Valley, Jeff Lowe Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Michael Paccione, PCA, Rondout Savings, Inc., TheCommunityGuide.net, Cumulus Radio, WAMC, WKZE, Chronogram and Hudson Valley Mercantile.

Tickets for the event go for $30, $50 and $100. Purchase of $100 seats includes entry to a post-concert meet-the-artists cocktail party at TD Bank.

Eugenia Zukerman, Inon Barnatan, the Voxare String Quartet and other classical musicians will perform at the Artists for Autism gala this Saturday, September 29 at 7 p.m. at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie. Proceeds will benefit the work of the Center for Spectrum Services. Tickets may be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, by calling (800) 745-3000 or at the Bardavon and Ulster Performing Arts Center box offices. For further information about the event, including restaurants supporting the cause through a special early-dinner promotion, visit www.artistsforautism2012.org or www.facebook.com/artists4autism2012. For more info about the Center for Spectrum Services, call (845) 336-2616 or visit www.centerforspectrumservices.org.