Andy Anselmo, the vocal coach to stars including Mandy Patinkin and Liza Minnelli, is giving Western New York a new gift.
Anselmo, 93, is spearheading the construction of an arts center at Canterbury Woods, the Amherst retirement community where he lives. The new venue, announced today, is estimated to cost $3.5 million. Anselmo is pledging $500,000.
"Music has been more than my life's work. It has been my life's passion since I was a little boy," Anselmo said in a statement, announcing the gift. "I want the joy and satisfaction that music has brought me to live on and flourish for the people of Western New York. Canterbury Woods is a great place to make that happen."
The new venue, scheduled for completion in 2019, is envisioned to bring Canterbury Woods together with the neighborhoods that surround it.
"It's not just for the Canterbury campus, but for the entire community," said spokesman Phil Pantano, of Pantano & Associates.
Anselmo has long wanted to give back to the community he credits with giving him his start. In 2016, he made a seven-figure donation to the former Community Music School. He rescinded that gift in May, school officials explained, when other key funding was denied and the renovations he had envisioned became impossible.
He is also a founder of the Singers Forum, a prominent school in New York City now approaching its 40th anniversary.
Rob Wallace, Canterbury Woods president and CEO, says this is the first time in the retirement community's 18-year-history that a resident has led such a major initiative. Anselmo has lived at Canterbury Woods since 2006.