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Inspirational Person of the Month

Richard Albagli

Margaret is quite familiar with brilliant artistic professors having been the daughter of one (former chairman of the Dance Department at Adelphi University on Long Island) and the student of several (at Oberlin Conservatory of Music where she was a flute performance major). However, in a sea full of creative Academics, one still stands out and that is none other than Mr. Richard Albagli, Margaret’s son Julian’s very dedicated and extremely talented percussion teacher.

For those not familiar with Richard Albagli, he is not only the principal percussionist of the Albany Symphony but has also been teaching and inspiring the percussion students at both SUNY Albany and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York for many years. He has served as Musical Director of the Empire State Youth Percussion Ensemble, along with Mark Foster, since its inception thirty years ago. Richard is the co-founder of the Associated Solo Artists, which not only provides interdisciplinary programs in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities for schools from kindergarten through college but also gives programs for corporations, business leaders, and government agencies on innovation and creativity. In addition to all of this, Mr. Albagli is an award-winning composer.

Richard Albagli’s brilliance does not only pertain to his musical ability. In addition to his merits as a performer, composer, conductor and music educator, Richard’s talents include physics, having graduated with an undergraduate degree in Physics from RPI and utilizing his knowledge to develop programs (along with John Cimino) combining physics and music. In addition, Mr. Albagli is an avid reader; connoisseur of classic novels (especially those by Charles Dickens) and history books especially those pertaining to the American Civil War.

However, Richard Albagli’s greatest attribute of all is his love and dedication towards young people. As a music teacher and coach, his care, dedication and enthusiasm for his students is unprecedented. However, his compassion and
empathy for all young people does not end with his students. A year ago, Richard raised money for desks for children in Africa so that they would be inspired to learn and evolve as scholars and human beings. Anyone who has ever attended the annual Holiday Percussion Concert has received a taste of his deeply compassionate heart.

Margaret’s son Julian is currently in his sixth year of studying with Richard Albagli. In addition to being immensely grateful, Margaret is inspired daily by his dedication, perseverance, and ingenuity. Richard is a rare person who not only inspires you to be an even better musician but also to become a better rounded, educated and compassionate human being.


Inspirational Place of the Month

Queens, New York City

Margaret first found inspiration from Queens thirty years ago while dating a Flushing gentleman, Marc, who encouraged her to keep writing songs. The two spent hours driving through the city looking for celery tonics while listening to Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Leonard Cohen and other great songwriters who paved the way for Margaret’s songwriting career.

For those not familiar with this borough, Queens happens to be home of some of the best Asian cuisine in the country. It also is the home of the former Shea Stadium (where Margaret heard Simon and Garfinkel perform an ultra inspiring concert in 1983) and the site for the 1964 World Fair. Both major New York City airports (JKF and
Laguadia) are located in the borough of Queens. In addition, Queens is also the home to Queens Botanical Gardens, a zoo, colleges, Universities, theaters and museums. The world famous Bellmont Racetrack is located in Queens. Queens also provides some of the best views of the Manhattan Skyline that the city has to offer.

One of Margaret’s favorite Queens communities is Forest Hills, the former home of the US Open tennis tournaments. It is also the location for the playground scene in Margaret’s “Bricks in the Wall” music video in which her son Julian “falls” off from the monkey bars. Another favorite Queens community is Jackson Heights, which boasts almost every imaginable cuisine.

For further information about the borough of Queens, please visit www.queensnyc.com

Margaret's Inspirations:

Many of Margaret's musical compositions and songs are inspired by the important people, furred friends and places in her life. In addition to honoring one place and one person each month, she has a number of ongoing inspirations that she would like to share with you...


Julian Jacobs

Julian Jacobs is Margaret’s fourteen year old son and a daily source of inspiration for Margaret. Julian not only was the primary inspiration behind Margaret ‘s “On the Threshold of Change” album of instrumental compositions for flute and piano, but has also helped to inspire many of Margaret’s other compositions and songs in a variety of genres. Julian also gives Margaret inspiration in the teaching of her SAFE through the Arts program.

Julian is currently a seventh grader at the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School in Columbia County, New York where he plays violin in the school fiddle club and timpani in his class orchestra. Julian has also been playing drums and percussion in the Empire State Youth Orchestra Junior Percussion Ensemble for the past three years. He performed percussion on Margaret’s “Bricks in the Wall” album, In addition, Julian has also appeared in several productions as an actor during the past year including Wickersham Brother in a community production of Seusical the Musical, Brutus in a class performance of Julius Ceaser, and as the piano player in Margaret’s “Cinderella Falling” music video.

When not on stage, Julian has many other interests including basketball, skiing, drawing and reading. He also enjoys spending time with his many animals.

Bunty Kelley Bernstein

The Inspirational Person for the month of May is Margaret’s mother, Bunty Kelley Bernstein, a retired dancer and ballet instructor residing in the town of Garden City on Long Island, New York. Bunty’s professional career included years of dancing with the Sadlers Wells (the Royal Ballet) in London, England under the direction of Dame Ninette de Valois as well as assisiting and performing in many of choreographer Agnes de Mille's productions in the United States. Bunty also served on the Dance Faculty of Adelphi University in Garden City, New York and the Long Island High School for the Arts (BOCES Cultural Arts) in Syosset, New York. Widow of the late Harry Bernstein, former chairman and professor emeritus of Dance at Adelphi University, she is currently a Board Member of Azalea Blossom, Incorporated and a volunteer at the Cathedral Nursery School.

Margaret Craske (Nov. 26th 1892 - Feb. 18th, 1990)

Margaret Bernstein's Godmother and namesake, Margaret Craske, was an acclaimed ballet teacher who introduced Margaret Bernstein's parents to one another. Both of Margaret Bernstein's parents had been ballet students of Margaret Craske. Margaret Bernstein’s mother, Bunty Kelley studied with her as a girl growing up in London, and Margaret Bernstein's father, Harry Bernstein, had been a student of Miss Craske at the Juilliard School in New York City. Margaret Craske also became a permanent fixture at the Metropolitan Opera House, where she taught ballet until she almost got run over by a New York City taxicab at the age of ninety-four. She spent the last years of her life residing at the Meher Center in Myrtle Beach at South Carolina where she entertained guests with her stories marked of her dry wit.

Margaret Craske was definitely one of the most influential people in Margaret Bernstein's life. Through her weekly contact, she not only gave an appreciation of the spiritual world, but also taught what it meant to aspire to excellence in all things. She was not only one of the world's most excellent teachers, but a strong dynamic woman with a sense of humor, a tenacious code of moral and work ethic, and a fiery personality. Although she passed away twenty years ago this month at age ninety-seven, her memory lives vibrantly on in the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved her.

Katherina Forbes Dunlop - (Aunt Bengie)

In honor of her birthday this month, Margaret’s inspirational person for July is Katherina Forbes Dunlop, Margaret’ beloved Great Aunt. Born July 14th, 1892 in Sussex County England, Katherina was the oldest of three girls. She had a long and inspired career both as a writer and as an educator. Katherina's inspiration for writing poetry and short stories not only came from her mother who was herself a writer and an artist, but also from her encounters with the British author Joseph Conrad. The stories she has of making rice pudding for Mr. Conrad and other tales can be found in her book "Winchelsea Memories" which is based on her childhood growing up in the quaint sea-side village in Sussex County, England. Miss Dunlop not only taught English in the prestigious Queens Gate Academy in London, but also served as the headmistress of Stocks, the Oldest girls boarding school in England. Even after selling her school, this remarkable lady continued tutoring English and Latin privately in her London flat until the age of 97. In her later years, a scholarship was established in her name to help further the career of a young woman in the Arts. Margaret has many fond memories of times they spent together during Margaret's many visits to England. which included many outings to the theatre in London together. She shared Margaret's passion and interest in people, good literature, the Arts, and anything intrinsically beautiful. She was not only a great source of inspiration to Margaret but also to everyone else who had the blessing of knowing her.

Catherine Furey (Nana)

Since Margaret was an infant, Catherine Furey was known to her as “Nana”, which was also how she was known to over a half dozen of biological grandchildren. Catherine, who became a long-time family friend and adopted relative, had been a main caretaker for Margaret while her parents taught ballet at Adelphi University. She played an integral part in Margaret’s physical development and spiritual development and was there was momentous occasions from the birth and death of Margaret’s brother to Margaret’s high school graduation. A born Irish woman and devout Catholic until the end, Catherine was instrumental in introducing Margaret to prayer at an early age. She use to love to hear the Irish tunes and especially "Danny Boy" which Margaret gratefully had the opportunity to play for her on her flute two days before her passing at the age of 110. Catherine made history upon her passing in November 2003 when her picture was on the cover of Newsday for being the oldest person living on Long Island.


Harry Bernstein - Margaret's Father


The Meher Baba Center, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

The Meher Spiritual Center, located in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Founded in the 1940’s at Meher Baba’s request, Meher Spiritual Center is a retreat for “rest, meditation, and the renewal of the spiritual life.” The approximate five hundred acres that comprise Meher Center is home to hundreds of species of birds and other animals. Definitely one of Margaret’s favorite and most inspirational places to visit since she was a teenager, the Meher Center is also the home to the annual Youth Sahavas (weeklong retreat for teenagers), which Margaret founded in 1991. To learn more, please go to www.mehercenter.org

Samuel P. Taylor State Park, Lagunitas, California

Located in West Marin County, California, approximately one hour north of San Francisco, Samuel P. Taylor Park contains trails of rolling hills and redwood forests. It is open to the public for day use and for camping. Group and equestrian camping is also available. For information, call the ranger station at 415-488-9897 or see:  www.openspacecouncil.org/camp/Taylor

Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve, Rensselaerville, NY

Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve, Rensselaerville, New York. Located in the Helderberg Mountains in upstate New York, this special preserve includes a lake, a pond, and a waterfall as well as miles of wooded trails. Although there are no camping accommodations available, there is a bed and breakfast and excellent restaurant in town. For more, call 797-3440 or visit www.huyckpreserve.org


Furred Friends:


Oliver Rufus Doggie Dog

Little Bit




Bob The Rooster

Best known for his stellar appearance in “Cinderella Falling”, Robert E. Rooster (AKA “Bob the Rooster”) was born and raised in rural Greene County, New York until he was adapted by singer-songwriter Margaret Bernstein. After his many adventures escaping from his rival, Smokey, Margaret brought him into her home and nursed him back to health. It was then that Margaret discovered Bob’s musical talents and decided to cast him as her dancing partner in her sophomore music video. Much of his success on the shoot is attributed to his regular practice sessions with Margaret as well as his natural talent. Bob is definitely a rooster who knew how to tweak on the beat! His other pastimes included indulging in Ocean Spray Cranberries, listening to classical music on the radio, and chilling out with his girlfriend, Sophia.

To see Bob the Rooster in the Cinderella Falling music video, please click here


Romeo (AKA Romeo Herbie James Doggie-Dog)

Romeo was born on March 29, 1992. He was given to Kersten Dryden as a present for her sixteenth birthday on June 18th, 1992, from her boyfriend at the time, mike Rome (hence the name Romeo). Romeo grew up on the Dryden Farm in Feura Bush, NY, and lived there most of his life. Carol and Richard Mannis lovingly took care of Romeo for several years, until their move West. Although Margaret first became friends with Romeo in June of 1984, it was in March of 2002 that Romeo officially became a member of Margaret and Julian's household where he resided until his passing.

Romeo was a very social and dynamic being. He became friends with all the dogs and cats and people on the farm, and in his younger days enjoyed running behind with the "big dogs" during hikes and trial rides. He made his presence known at virtually every social gathering and was well liked and known by many. He was a very musical dog possessing much charisma and stage presence. He loved to sing while Margaret played the flute, often hitting the correct pitches, and would jump on stage to accompany her during performances at large gatherings. In fact, his picture appeared in the "White Horse Journal" after one such performance in the mid 1990s.

Although Romeo suffered a couple of accidents, which left him partly paralyzed, he never lost his spirit or his zest for life.


Jessie (pictured with Romeo)

A boy cat named after a favorite female student in Arizona, Jessie was rescued and adapted by Margaret in San Francisco, California a week after the big Earth Quake in 1989. Jessie lived with Margaret and family until his passing in November 2002.



"Rosita", a beautiful Arabian mare, came into Margaret's life in the summer of 1993 when she was living on a horse ranch in California. Rosie followed Margaret out to the farm in Feura Bush, New York where they enjoyed many long trail rides together before she passed on October 8th, 1995. "Awakening Hearts and Souls Dance" is dedicated to Rosie's canter off to join the Beloved One.


Timba (AKA Sara Timbalena Jeana Doggie Dog)

Timba hails from Northern California. Although we do not know her exact origin or date of birth, we do know that she was rescued from the Marin County Animal Shelter pregnant with six babies. We first met Timba with her four surviving puppies short after she had given birth in the backyard of the neighbor who had rescued her. Timba took motherhood seriously and when she was sent to us before she was ready to leaver her children, she visited them daily by swimming in our backyard creek through the tunnel that ran under the road. Her mothering instincts carried on years later in the way that she nurtured and protected her dear friend Romeo and also the kittens who came to live with us one Spring. I admired her perseverance and patience as she let them "nurse."

Timba was a very loving, sweet and gentle dog who loved to dig, enjoyed long walks, and especially loved music. A very talented musician, she could beat in time with her tail and always sang along with Margaret's flute playing. We still love and miss her very much.


Tabitha & Pumpkin

Pumpkin, this fluffy orange cat showed up in Margaret's life just before Halloween in 1987 while she was living in Arizona and became a dedicated favorite until and beyond his passing on the farm in Feura Bush, New York on August 9th, 1995 (the same day that Jerry Garcia passed away). His memory was the inspiration for "Surrender to a Safe Place" found on the "Threshold" album.

Tabitha, Pumpkin’s sister, is the longest living of any of Margaret’s furred friends. Born in Arizona, she has also lived in Northern California and in upstate New York. A very friendly and social cat, Tabitha's claim to fame is her solo invitations to brunches and Salmon Dinners! She is currently enjoying her retirement in the old farmhouse in upstate, New York.


Thomas and Muriella

Born on March 9th in California, 1999, these two beautiful bunnies were favorites in Margaret’s household until their passing. Muriella, the daring female, disappeared in October 2002. Thomas, the very social bunny that was as soft as velvet and as big as a dog (really!) and even thought himself as a dog, passed away suddenly on July 4th, 2003. Like all of our animal friends who have since departed, we miss them terribly.



Sheba came into Margaret’s life when she moved back to the farm in Feura Bush, new York in the fall of 1994. This Lab -Shepherd was a barn dog until she officially Adopted Margaret a year later. As with most of Margaret's furred fans, Sheba made the transatlantic trip to California and back to upstate New York where she passed away at the veritable age of fifteen in November 2002.

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