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Perkins Center’s Conservatory of Music Faculty and Friends present

The Aurelia Bender Memorial Concert

A Selection of Her Favorite Pieces


Saturday, October 22, 2016 @ 7pm

$10 Suggested Donation


Performers include June Bender, Emma Brailovsky, Barry Moore, Irina Nenartovich and Frank James Staneck

Please join us for an evening of music to celebrate the life of Aurelia Bender and raise funds to support the Conservatory of Music program at Perkins Center for the Arts. Light refreshments will be served.


Aurelia Bender Bio

a_benderAurelia Maresca was born on October 22, 1921 in the Queensboro Hill section of Flushing, NY.  Her father was a self-employed businessman and her mother was an elementary school teacher. Aurelia graduated from Newtown High School, Queens, NY in 1938.  Fluent in Italian, her parents’ native tongue, she was proud of her Italian heritage.  A talented and dedicated piano student, at the age of 14 she received a gold medal in a regional competition sponsored by the Music Education League of New York City where she performed at Carnegie Hall.  She graduated from Barnard College, NY in 1942 and earned her Masters in Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, NY in 1943.  Later that year while working as a theater accompanist at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, she met Henry J. Bender of Union Hill, NJ. The only child of first generation German Americans and a graduate of Fordham University, Henry was attending US Armed Services Officer Candidate School preparing to serve overseas. Nine years Aurelia’s senior, they shared a passion for music. Henry had been the piano accompanist for the Fordham University Men’s Glee Club. He said that he fell in love with Aurelia the first night they met when he heard her play Debussy’s “Arabesque”. They married in May, 1944 and settled in Leonia, NJ where five of their ten children were born; Henry, Thomas, Mary, Robert and Stephen.  In 1953, they moved to Moorestown, NJ and added five more children to the family; Paul, Mark, Peter, Philip and Ann.  Aurelia had her tenth child at the age of 45.  Six years later, she tragically lost her husband of 29 years and found herself a single mother with five children still at home.  Strengthened by her strong character and her deep faith, she guided and nurtured her children with the selfless love that defined her entire life.

A gifted classical pianist and teacher, she generously shared her musical talents with the Moorestown community for over 50 years by volunteering, performing and teaching private lessons in her home to pianists both young and old, many of whom stayed in close touch with her over the years.  In 1967 she co-founded the South Jersey Music Teachers’ Association.  A lifelong student, she continued to hone her knowledge and skills by taking courses in piano theory at Temple University and even attended a symposium in Italy when she was 76.  Her professionalism and knowledge launched many of her younger students into college scholarships and professional careers.  Thriving on her endless desire to give, she regularly shared her musical gift with family members, friends, fellow residents and staff of Grace Assisted Living in Moorestown by performing on her beloved Bechstein piano which was donated by the family in her name to the Perkins Center for the Arts.

Aurelia will live on as a shining example of the true meaning of selflessness.  A natural poise and grace stemmed from her sincerity which was her inner strength.  She saw the good in everyone she met and found beauty in the simplest things.  Her gentle and loving kindness was there for anyone who needed it and she was an inspiration to all even through her final days.   She continues to inspire and enrich all those who knew her.


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