Bronx elected officials and community members at the corner of Hillman Avenue and Van Cortlandt Park South honored a late musician with a street co-naming ceremony on Friday, November 11.
In recognition of late Bronx Arts Ensemble founder, William J. Scribner, Councilman Andy Cohen and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, unveiled ‘William J. Scribner Way,’ followed by a musical performance of Ludwig Van Beethoven.
Scribner, who was also known as ‘Bill,’ passed away in September 2016. He was a world-class bassoonist and performed as a principal with the American Symphony Orchestra, Long Island Philharmonic, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic, to name a few.
Scribner’s legacy, the Bronx Arts Ensemble, located at 80 Van Cortlandt Park South, Suite 7D-1, was established in 1972, where acclaimed performance musicians presented over 100 concerts a year.
In 1993, BAE launched the arts-in-education program in over 40 schools in the borough and beyond with instruction in music, drama, dance, visual arts, capoeira, drumming and more.
The BAE continues to develop and integrate its core programs impacting new audiences and building a Bronx family.
Scribner was remembered for his dedication to provide free or low-cost concerts for citizens of the Bronx.
“I knew Bill for almost 25 years or more, and he brought so much to this community and to the people of the Bronx,” said Dinowitz. “I always say ‘you don’t have to go to that island below us to see great performances or hear beautiful music, when it’s right here in the Bronx’…It’s so fitting that we have this sign up here because when people walk by they’ll see Bill’s name and remember what he did for us.’”
Cohen added, “It’s a modest honor that really reflects Bill’s hard work and commitment in the community and it’s a great acknowledgement.”
The proposal to co-name Hillman Avenue ‘William J. Scribner Way’ was announced two years ago, according to BAE board chair, Robert Fanuzzi, who thanked Community Board 8 and City Council officials for approving the proposal.
“It’s wonderful to see a great turnout for an artist, because often it’s the artist who gets overlooked but here an artist really helped rebuild the Bronx,” Fanuzzi said. “It’s a great honor because it’s an organization that really helps every corner, every neighborhood of the Bronx.”
Scribner’s family members expressed gratitude and joy at the sight of the street sign with on-lookers.
“I’m absolutely honored. I never saw this coming,” said Scribner’s son, Andrew. “It’s wonderful that he had the gift of music and got to share it with many people…it’s inspiring to see someone with that much of a passion for his profession that has permeated everyone around him. It’s tremendous.”
For Scribner’s first wife, Louise Scribner, and his widow, Marsha Heller, the ceremony was an inspiring delight.
“I’m just thrilled. It’s so well deserved and I am just so happy that it happened and so many people came to see it and (hear the) wonderful words (that) were spoken. The whole family is thrilled,” Heller said.