Co-hosted by former NY1 Anchor Roma Torre, the JCC's Caroline Kohles, and Dr. Alessandro "Alex" Di Rocco, in a free livestreamed event sponsored by Northwell Health.

By: May. 11, 2022


Nearly one million people in the United States are living with Parkinson's disease and about 60,000 people in this country are diagnosed each year with the brain disorder, which primarily affects motor functions.

Health studies have found that cultural activities - such as dance and music - help to activate brain areas and produce neuroprotective benefits in those with PD. They also lead to a better quality of life.

On May 16, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan will present Broadway's Best for Parkinson's: The Power of Music!, part of a groundbreaking JCC program founded 15 years ago to improve the lives of those impacted by Parkinson's. The virtual event - which begins at 6:00 PM EDT - is free but prior registration is required. Registrants will receive a Zoom link to attend and will be able to engage with participants and submit questions during the hour.

"Music-based therapies work in a variety of ways to improve the challenges that many with Parkinson's face," said JCC Senior Program Director of Health & Wellness Caroline Kohles. "Music therapy uses rhythm, movement, voice, and creativity to improve symptoms. During this event, we will bring together experts and people touched by Parkinson's to discuss how music can yield significant benefits."

In addition to Caroline Kohles, the event is co-hosted by former NY1 Anchor and theater reporter Roma Torre, as well as Dr. Alessandro Di Rocco, Professor of Neurology, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra Northwell, and System Director - Neurology, Parkinson's and Movement Disorders, Northwell Health. The hour-long event will feature:

a-? Concetta Tomaino, music therapist and founder of the Institute for Music, exploring the science behind music therapy;

a-? Renowned Broadway musical conductor and arranger David Loud, discussing the influence of music in his life before and with PD;

a-? Matthew Sacheli, PhD, Research Program Manager and Mikey Jose, PhD Candidate of BC Brain Wellness, who will share the launch of their new study on Music + Apathy in Parkinson's;

a-? David Leventhal, Program Director and founding teacher of the Dance for PD program, who will explore the impact of music; and,

a-? Cabaret star Lennie Watts, who will close the show with a musical tribute.

This program is made possible by a community grant from the Parkinson's Foundation and is endorsed by Northwell Health and is part of the Edmond J. Safra Wellness Program at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.

The groundbreaking Edmond J. Safra Parkinson's Wellness Program, founded in 2007, helps improve the lives of those impacted by Parkinson's. Through education, exercise, support groups, and other programs, and in collaboration with the medical and local communities, people impacted by Parkinson's remain active, connected, and empowered.

With a primary focus on dignity, hope, and possibility, this program has grown into a welcoming hub for the New York City Parkinson's community. The Edmond J. Safra National Parkinson's Wellness Initiative has been adapted nationally in partnership with the Parkinson's Foundation and is supported by New York's largest health care provider, Northwell Health, which includes a renowned Parkinson's program founded on patient- and family-centered care.

About the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Together with its community, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan creates opportunities for people to connect, grow, and learn within an ever-changing Jewish landscape. Located on 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the JCC is a vibrant non-profit community center on the Upper West Side. It also presents a robust slate of virtual programming, serving an even wider community. The JCC serves over 55,000 people annually through 1,200 programs each season that educate, inspire, and transform participants' minds, bodies, and spirits. Throughout COVID-19, the JCC has pivoted to meet the community online, exceeding 102,000 registrations to over 3,000 virtual classes and programs in the earliest part of the pandemic. Since its inception, the JCC has been committed to serving the community by offering programs, classes, and events that extend beyond neighborhood boundaries, reaching people at all stages of their lives. Learn more at

Bios of Co-Hosts and Participants (in alphabetical order)

Dr. Alessandro "Alex" Di Rocco is a much-loved and world-renowned New York City-based Neurology Specialist and Movement Disorder Specialist and serves as Medical Director of the Parkinson's Wellness Program at the JCC. An expert in Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders, he is a Professor of Neurology at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra Northwell, and System Director - Neurology, Parkinson's and Movement Disorders, at Northwell Health. The inspiration for the JCC's Parkinson's programming, Dr. Di Rocco has been the principal and co-investigator of numerous research studies including NIH and major national and international foundation-sponsored studies. You can learn more about him here.

Mikey Jose is a PhD Neuroscience student at UBC, pursuing research in music neuroscience. Graduating with a BSc in Cognitive Systems at UBC in 2020, Mikey's research orientation lends itself well to multidisciplinary research, as he continuously strives to bridge the gap between the arts and health/medicine. Mikey is passionate about validating the crucial role that music plays in everyday life and clinical settings, and has received many opportunities to share this passion as a featured TEDx speaker, invited panelist at UBC's Neuroscience Colloquia and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra's Roundtable series, and Director of the UBC Brain and Music Group.

Outside of academics, Mikey is a composer, songwriter, and musician; at 15, he co-wrote 15 songs for an original musical that raised over $250,000 for local and global charities over 5 years. Most recently, he released an EP on commercial platforms in late 2020, and has accumulated over 1 million streams collectively, reaching 125 countries. His passion for creating music and deep interest in neuroscience intertwine, driving him to understand more fully the incredible holistic power of music. You can learn more about him here.

Caroline Kohles is the senior director of health and wellness programming at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. In her 17 years at the JCC, she has spearheaded a progressive slate of fitness programming, creating 100+ group fitness class schedules and health and wellness programs for populations ranging from tweens/teens to prenatal/postnatal moms and seniors. Her signature work includes developing a range of cancer care programs in partnership first with Mount Sinai Hospital and with Alison Estabrook, M.D., a nationally recognized breast cancer surgeon. A health and wellness professional for over 25 years, Kohles is co-founder of Nia New York, a holistic lifestyle and fitness practice. She also designed the nationally and internationally recognized Edmond J. Safra Parkinson's program at the JCC, now in its 15th year, in partnership first with The Fresco Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center and now with Northwell Health.

David Leventhal is the founding teacher and Program Director for DANCE FOR PD, where he leads classes for people with Parkinson's disease around the world and trains other teachers in the Dance for PD approach. Since 2007, he has trained more than 2,000 teachers in the Dance for PD approach in 25 cities around the world. He's co-produced five volumes of a successful At Home instructional video series for the program and has been instrumental in initiating and designing innovative projects involving live streaming and Moving Through Glass, a dance-based Google Glass App for people with Parkinson's.

He has written about dance and Parkinson's for numerous esteemed publications and has served as a co-author on a number of peer-reviewed studies. He is in demand as a speaker at international conferences and symposiums, and has spoken about the intersection of dance, Parkinson's and health. He serves on the boards of the Davis Phinney Foundation and the Georgetown Lombardi Arts and Humanities Program, as well as the Dance & Creative Wellness Foundation.

Leventhal designed and currently teaches a pioneering dance-based elective course that is part of the Narrative Medicine curriculum at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. He's featured in the award-winning documentary Capturing Grace. As a dancer, he performed with the Mark Morris Dance Group from 1997-2011, appearing in principal roles in Mark Morris' The Hard Nut, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, and Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet, on Motifs of Shakespeare. He received a 2010 Bessie (New York Dance and Performance Award) for his performing career with Mark Morris.

David Loud is one of Broadway's most respected music directors and vocal arrangers, and has the unique distinction of having originated three roles on Broadway as an actor. He served as music director for The Visit, starring Chita Rivera and Roger Rees; other Broadway credits include The Scottsboro Boys, Sondheim on Sondheim, Curtains, Ragtime, A Class Act, Steel Pier, and revivals of Porgy and Bess, She Loves Me, Company, and Sweeney Todd. He originated the role of Manny in Terrence McNally's Master Class (starring Zoe Caldwell and Audra McDonald) and he played Sasha (the conductor) in Curtains.

He made his Broadway debut in Harold Prince's original 1981 production of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along. David is a graduate of Yale University and has been on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama and Fordham University. He is currently teaching at Manhattan School of Music, where he is the music director of the new Musical Theatre program, a program which he helped found in 2017. His book, Facing the Music, a Broadway memoir, was just published by REGAN ARTS, a division of Simon & Schuster. You can learn more about him here.

Dr. Matthew Sacheli is the Research Program Manager of the BC Brain Wellness Program. Dr. Sacheli has a background in clinical neuroscience, kinesiology, and exercise physiology (PhD, Neuroscience; MSc., Kinesiology; BSc. Honours, Human Kinetics). His PhD work was completed at the Pacific Parkinson's Research Center (PPRC) and the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, University of British Columbia, and investigated the therapeutic mechanisms of exercise in Parkinson's disease using PET and fMRI neuroimaging. He also has experience working in the non-profit sector managing the Parkinson's Disease portfolio and the Brain Health program at the Weston Brain Institute and the Weston Family Foundation in Toronto, On. Dr. Sacheli has been an invited speaker at numerous national and international conferences, including the American Academy of Neurology, INSIGHT for Parkinson's Disease, World Parkinson Congress, and the Parkinson's Society BC provincial conference, regional conferences and annual general meeting.

Concetta Tomaino is a Music Therapist, Executive Director, and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF), and formerly Senior Vice President for Music Therapy at CenterLight Health System (formerly Beth Abraham Family of Health). Internationally known for her research in the clinical applications of music and neurologic rehabilitation, she has lectured on music therapy throughout the United States and in Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Italy, England, and Canada. A past president of the American Association for Music Therapy, she was honored at the United Nations with the Music Therapists for Peace Award of Accomplishment. Her work with the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function has advanced the state of the art and science of music therapy for individuals suffering the effects of brain trauma including stroke, or who are afflicted with such degenerative neurological diseases as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and other forms of dementia.

Roma Torre, a recipient of three Emmys and more than 30 other broadcasting awards. She spent 28 years at NY1 where she was the channel's midday anchor and chief theatre critic. In 2019, Roma was inducted into the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Silver Circle honoring her for lifetime achievement in newscasting. She began her television career at Channel 2 News as a writer and producer before moving on to News 12 Long Island, the nation's first 24-hour local news channel where she anchored, reported, and reviewed film and theatre.

Roma was the first reporter hired at NY1 to become weekend anchor and reporter. She moved up to anchoring the highly rated weekday mornings as well as the station's award-winning political program Inside City Hall. She co-created and contributed to NY1 On Stage, the channel's weekly theatre program. Besides anchoring NY1's Your News Now, Live At Noon, Roma's great passion has always been the theatre. She has seen and reviewed more than 3,000 productions, most of them on Broadway. A colon cancer survivor, Roma is a staunch advocate of early screening while serving on the National Council of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance and as a celebrity ambassador for the American Cancer Society.

Lennie Watts is a 10-time MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets), 5-time Backstage Bistro, and 3-time Nightlife Award Winner. Recognized as an outstanding vocalist, director, producer, and booking manager, Lennie Watts he has been active in the New York cabaret scene for over 20 years.