Today’s news:

Astoria concert to aid Italian quake victims

The borough’s Italian−American community will have an opportunity to donate money to aid the victims of the April 6 earthquake in Italy’s Abruzzo region during a concert to be held later this month in Astoria.

The Astoria−based Federation of Italian American Organizations of Queens will host the Abruzzo Earthquake Relief Fund Benefit Concert May 31 at 5 p.m. at St. Joseph Elementary School at 28−46 44th St. in Astoria.

The event, which will be hosted by Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece, will include a performance by renowned songstress Giada Valenti, who will sing popular love songs, such as “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “La Vie En Rose,” “Tell Me When⁄Quando Quando Quando” and “Speak Softly Love (Them from ‘The Godfather’).”

The concert will be attended by borough dignitaries and elected officials. Tickets for the event will be $20 or $35 for premium seating. Additional donations will be accepted at the performance.

“We’re looking to raise as much money as we can,” Iannece said. “I think it will be a wonderful opportunity.”

The 6.3 magnitude quake struck central Italy’s Abruzzo region on the morning of April 6, heavily damaging a number of cities, such as historic L’Aquila, where numerous buildings crumbled and some 8,000 small businesses were forced to close.

The official death toll from the quake has climbed to 294 people, while an estimated 28,000 Abruzzese have been left homeless.

Astoria has long been the home of the largest Abruzzese community in the United States after an estimated 2,000 families moved to the neighborhood between the beginning of the 20th century and the end of World War II.

“We have a huge population of people from that region in northeastern Queens,” City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D−Astoria) said. “They helped to make this neighborhood what it is today, so now’s our chance to help them.”

Angie Markum, executive director of the federation, said St. Joseph’s auditorium holds 400 people and that at least half of the seats have already been sold. The concert will last one−half−and−a−half hours, she said.

Federation President Joseph DiPietro said the group would also accept donations for its Italian Earthquake Relief Fund 2009 at its 21st Avenue office in Astoria.

For more information or tickets to the concert, call 718−224−2444.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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