Forest Hills vocalist spreads melody to new learners

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For the 17 singers who crowded into Sandra Bosko’s Forest Hills apartment Friday night for a performance workshop, the evening was more than just 3 12 hours of singing everything from Spanish love songs to pieces by pop star Fiona Apple.

It seemed to be a metaphor for just how far they have come since beginning to work with Bosko, a music coach, composer and former off−Broadway performer.

“It’s amazing how much better I am now,” said Kew Gardens resident Justin Rodriguez, 18. “I started going to Sandy when I was 12, and I was so shy. She taught me to be confident.”

So confident, in fact, that Rodriguez had no trouble belting out “En El Jardin,” a popular Spanish wedding song, and several other tunes for a crowd of about 50 people at Friday’s performance workshop.

Bosko holds about two performance workshops annually, and this year 17 students, ages 8 to older than 50, showed off the musical skills that have landed them in some of the city’s most prestigious arts schools.

“These students are close to my heart, and we’re like a family,” said Bosko, who has been teaching music in Forest Hills for two decades. “I have all kinds of singers, pop singers, R&B singers, alternative rock and classic rock singers.”

Bosko said she works hard to rid her students of the stage fright many of them had when they began taking lessons with her.

“I also came very shy to Sandy,” said Forest Hills resident Gisella Farkas, 15, who attends the Professional Performing Art School in Manhattan, which has graduated such students as singers Alicia Keyes and Britney Spears and actress Claire Danes.

“I didn’t really know how to perform a song, and my voice was shaky,” said Gisella, who has studied with Bosko for about seven years. “Sandy helped me get out of my box because I always had a fear of being in front of people. Now I go out and express myself.”

Bosko said the students who performed Friday have worked hard to get where they are, and many of them have promising musical careers ahead of them.

Astoria resident Jason Olshan, for example, is in his own alternative rock band, which has a song and a possible appearance in the upcoming Catherine Zeta−Jones film “The Rebound.”

“We have a song called “Love: Pass It On” in the movie,” said Orshan, 24, who has taken voice lessons with Bosko for two years and sang in Friday’s event. “It’s an upbeat song.”

Astoria resident Amanda Sorensen, 17, and Forest Hills resident Emma Rubinstein, 13, both of whom study voice with Bosko, said they plan to pursue careers in music.

“I want to be on Broadway,” said Sorensen, who sang “Criminal” by Fiona Apple Friday.

For Forest Hills resident Michael Ursu, 17, Friday’s workshop was bittersweet. It will likely be the last workshop he performs in since he will soon be leaving for Occidental College in California.

“I’ve met so many people through this,” Ursu said of the music lessons. “Music has opened up my eyes to so much, to so many other cultures.”

Bosko has been dancing, singing and acting since she was a teenager. She has released two CDs, performed in off−Broadway shows, danced and sang for productions for the Army and Navy, and performed in resorts in Atlantic City. She has worked as a cabaret singer and composes her own music.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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