On Saturday, November 1, 2014, Montclair State University marked a
decade of stellar performances at the Alexander Kasser Theater with a
gala celebration. Since opening in 2004, the Kasser Theater has garnered
regional, national and international recognition as both a home for
world-renowned talents and as an incubator for the next generation of
innovative performing artists. The sold-out event raised more than
$300,000 to ensure the Kasser Theater’s future excellence and continued
“Tonight we celebrate not only the 10th
anniversary of the Alexander Kasser Theater, which has provided a
beautiful home for dazzling performances by our students, by
professional artists and, often, by a wonderful combination of the two,
but we also honor the Kasser family, whose vision and generosity have
made both this evening and this theater possible,” said Montclair State
University President Susan A. Cole, addressing the capacity audience.
the theater’s inaugural evening on October 7, 2004, when dance legend
Mikhail Baryshnikov became the first artist to step onto its stage, the
Kasser Theater has hosted 170 critically acclaimed productions. These
include 26 specially commissioned works, as well as 34 world premiere
and 35 American premiere performances. Kasser audiences have also
enjoyed more than 350 performances by students from Montclair State’s
prestigious programs in music, dance and theater.
A Gala Program
On Saturday night, Richard Alston, dubbed by The Times of London
as “our most musical choreographer,” returned to the stage of the
Kasser Theater to enthrall a capacity audience. Alston’s last visit to
Montclair State was an enormous success with The New York Times hailing his company’s performance of Unfinished Business as the best dance performance of 2013.
The gala celebration marked the American premieres of two new works created for the Benjamin Britten centenary, Rejoice in the Lamb and Holderlin Fragments, as well as a reprise of Unfinished Business (Duet) and 1994’s Illuminations, set to Britten’s song cycle based on poems by Rimbaud.
tenor Nicholas Phan; renowned pianist Jason Ridgway; the vibrant
American Contemporary Music Ensemble; and Montclair State’s own 24-voice
choir, Vocal Accord under the direction of Heather Buchanan, provided
live music for the special performance.
A short video
featuring highlights of the Kasser Theater’s history, the life of
Alexander Kasser and past performances at the theater was also screened
during the gala.
“The 10th anniversary celebration helps us
to ensure a vibrant future for the Alexander Kasser Theater,” said Cole.
“It is a jewel of a theater and a state-of-the-art home for just the
kind of dynamic, breathtaking and thought-provoking performances
showcased at Saturday’s celebration.”
At the gala, Robert
Jackson, Mayor of Montclair, declared November 1, 2014, to be Kasser
Family Appreciation Day. “I’m happy to honor the Kasser/Mochary family
for their vision and generosity and to acknowledge the many ways in
which Montclair has been enriched by their philanthropic and civic
Mary Kasser Mochary and Rose Cali served as
cochairs of the gala event committee. In 2002, Mrs. Mochary, along with
her brother, I. Michael Kasser, and her two children, Alexandra
Bergstein and Matthew Mochary, made a joint gift of $4 million to name
the Alexander Kasser Theater after her late father, an international
philanthropist, art lover and one-time Montclair resident. A member of
the board of directors of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing
Arts in Washington, DC, Mrs. Mochary served as mayor of Montclair from
1980 to 1984.
Rose Cali, founder of the Yogi Berra Museum and
Learning Center at Montclair State and the current cochair of the
Montclair Art Museum’s Board of Trustees, is a longtime member of the
University’s Board of Trustees and chairs the John J. Cali School of
Music Advisory Board. Mrs. Cali’s late husband was John J. Cali, for
whom the University’s School of Music is named. In 2008, the Cali family
made a $5 million gift to name the school.
The Kasser Theater and Peak Performances
as a venue honoring the late Alexander Kasser by providing cultural
opportunities for University students, the community and the state of
New Jersey, the 500-seat Kasser Theater today attracts visionary
performing artists from around the world. Drawn to the energy at the
Kasser, they debut important new works through the theater’s Peak Performances
series, which was formed in 2005 under the artistic direction of
Jedediah Wheeler, the University’s executive director for Arts and
During its first decade, the theater has
served as a creative home where such celebrated artists as Tony
Award-winning choreographer Bill T. Jones, MacArthur fellow and Bessie
Award-winner Susan Marshall, performance artist Laurie Anderson and the
San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet were free to create, develop and
perform groundbreaking new works.
10th-anniversary season promises to deliver exciting performances from
artists that include avant-garde director Richard Schechner,
choreographer Liz Lerman, the Shanghai Quartet, performance artist
Robert Whitman and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.
Kasser is more than a theater that happens to be located on a college
campus,” said Cole. “In its first 10 years, it has become both a leading
cultural institution and a model for university-based theaters across
the country. Professional artists develop works here with student
involvement in both performance and production, while our talented
students have found a welcoming home on the Kasser stage.”
reflection of Montclair State’s commitment to making live performances
an integral part of the University experience and accessible to the
public, students can take in every performance for free, while attendees
pay just $20 per ticket to an outstanding line-up of performances.
Celebrating Montclair's Alexander Kasser Theater - The Montclair Times
Richard Alston Dance Company in Montclair - The Montclair Times