MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair State University will celebrate a decade of performances at the Alexander Kasser Theater tonight during a gala affair. The 500-seat theater has garnered international acclaim for its stunning performances and talent development program that has given birth to world-renowned performers.
Thanks to a generous contribution from the Kasser family, the Alexander Kasser Theater has helped to strengthen the New Jersey Arts community.
Mary Kasser Mochary could have hardly imagined the impact that the Kasser Theater would have on Montclair State University and the artistic community in New Jersey. Having highly acclaimed artists and musicians grace the stage, was never in the foresight. She only wanted to give back to a university and community that gave so much to her family.
Having grown up in Montclair with her brother Michael, Kasser Mochary said that she and her brother were among a cohort of Montclair Public School students sent to study on the campus of Montclair State University. Then referred to as the Normal School, where teachers were trained. She and Michael spent 6 years on the campus at the demonstration school. While teachers were learning to become teachers, university professors taught the cohort of 7-12 grade students using cutting edge techniques and Best Practices while their teacher-hopefuls observed.
"We had classrooms right on the campus and the school was called College High School. We started in 7th grade." This was the beginning of the Kasser family's longstanding relationship and special affinity toward Montclair State University. "We had a very strong relationship with the university." As an adult, Kasser Mochary became Montclair's first Mayor having served from 1980 to 1984. The Kasser family was presented with a proclamation from the Township of Montclair during the Township Council meeting on October 21.
After the passing of her father, Alexander Kasser, she and her two children, Alexandra Bergstein and Matthew Mochary, made a joint gift of $4 million in 2002 to name the Alexander Kasser Theater after her late father, an international philanthropist, art lover and one-time Montclair resident. Kasser Mochary said, "When we first got involved, I never could have imagined that it would become the showplace for cutting edge, creative, innovative entertainment." She continued. "It has become an amazing fabulous theater. It is very meaningful to have this celebration."
"How grateful we are to Montclair State for having made it such an amazing theater." Kasser expressed her gratitude to University President Dr. Susan Cole "for making this the premire theater in the New York area."
Since opening in 2004, the theater has had celebrated performers, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, who became the first artist to grace its stage. Other artists include Tony-award winning choreographer Bill T. Jones, MacArthur Fellow and Bessie Award-winner Susan Marshall. Other notable performances that crossed the Kasser Theater stage include Laurie Anderson and San Francisco’s Kronos Quartet.
Kasser Mochary added, "We are celebrating what the theater has become."
About the Event
Mary Kasser Mochary and Rose Cali are co-chairs of the gala event committee.
Mrs. Cali, founder of the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State and the current co-chair of the Montclair Art Museum’s Board of Trustees, is a longtime member of the University’s Board of Trustees and chairs the John J. Cali School of Music Advisory Board. Mrs. Cali’s late husband is John J. Cali, for whom the School of Music is named. In 2008, the Cali family made a $5 million gift to name the school.
For ticket or sponsorship opportunities:
Gala Cocktails and Performance Ticket -
Pre-performance cocktail party and one ticket to the performance
Cocktails, Performance and Dinner -
Pre-performance cocktail party, one ticket to the performance and post-performance dinner
Alexander Kasser Biography
A native of Budapest, Hungary, Alexander Kasser directed the Swedish Red Cross during World War II, working to save hundreds of Jews and political targets from persecution. Together with his wife, Elisabeth, he supported the rescue efforts of Raoul Wallenberg whose heroic actions helped save tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungry in 1944.
A leading innovator in Europe’s paper industry, Kasser resumed this career after immigrating to the United States after the war. In 1969, the Kassers and their children, Mary and Alexander, created the Kasser Art Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting art and music around the world.
About the Arts
Montclair State University has supported a commitment to making live arts performances an integral part of the University experience and accessible to the public by ensuring that students can see every performance for free and attendees pay just $20 per ticket.
For more information about the gala, please visit montclair.edu/kasser-gala.