Arts & Entertainment

Tree of Life Benefit Concert at Irvington Theater Sept. 27

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by W.B. King –

While Rob Rosman is an ardent fan of music, leaning toward the San Francisco Bay Area sound that produced the likes of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, he’s also a father whose eldest son is autistic. So, for the seventh time, Rosman is combining his love for family, community and music by producing the Tree of Life Benefit Concert, which takes place Friday, September 27 at the Irvington Theater.

“My oldest son, Aaron, is severely autistic and attends Ferncliff Manor,” said Rosman, an attorney with the White Plains-based firm Rosman & Associates. “My son is the impetus of these events we began putting together about five years ago. I am so honored to be working with Ferncliff Manor.”

Founded in 1935, Ferncliff Manor is a Yonkers-based organization for children with developmental disabilities. The organization’s mission is to provide educational, rehabilitative, specialized residential, health care, creative arts therapies and recreation programs, while enabling each individual to develop and enjoy a meaningful and personally rewarding life.

“The Tree of Life events help raise money for Ferncliff Manor,” said Ferncliff Manor’s treasurer and board member, Laurie Vander Hart Birrittella. “Fundraising is always difficult for any organization, and the money raised from Tree of Life events for the school is key for ongoing support of Ferncliff’s work.”

Watering the Tree of Life with Music

Over the last five years, Rosman, with the support of his wife and two other children, as well as his producing partner, Stephanie Susnjara, has put on Tree of Life benefits at the Warehouse at FTC in Fairfield, Connecticut, the Ardmore Music Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and SOB’s in New York City.

“The musicians have been so great over the years and are so eager to play this upcoming event,” said Rosman. “This is a rare opportunity to see so much talent creating a unique evening of music together on stage.”

The lineup of musicians that will grace the Irvington Theater’s stage include Elliott Peck, Grahame Lesh, Alex Koford, Tash Neal, Hayley Jane, Ryan Dempsey, DeShawn Alexander, Jesse Bardwell, Nathan Graham, Joe Cirotti, Karina Rykman, Chris Crosby and Alex Jordan.

During the event there will be a silent auction featuring many interesting items, including a signed guitar by various musicians as well as a wide array of fine art photography donated by renowned rock-and-roll artists and photographers, including Jay Blakesberg.

“There will be eight or nine or maybe more adults with developmental disabilities, including Aaron, working the event—at the silent auction, working with sound engineers and working at the door,” said Rosman who added that his next goal is to open a permanent event center in Westchester.

“We are looking to rent out space and start a work training program as well as have music and fundraising events. This is what the project is morphing into,” said Rosman.

The event will also feature the Tree of Life Awards ceremony for Outstanding Community Service. Rosman said the “exceptional recipients” of this award all made major contributions to the community-at-large. Laurie Vander Hart Birrittella will be among those honored.

“I was very proud to be asked to be an honoree at this year’s Tree of Life event,” said Hart Birrittella. “I am hoping that many of my friends and family will come out and help me celebrate. And, those who know me know that I have been a big fan of Grateful Dead most of my life. The Tree of Life band is a must see musically; the band is made up of a number of Grateful Dead family musicians. What could be better than that?”

A limited amount of VIP tickets are on sale for $150, which includes a pre-show as well as food and an open bar (food and wine) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. General admission tickets are also available for $65 and include free beer and wine. To purchase tickets, visit:

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