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Art, Drama, Music and Books
Art, drama, music & books

James Lettiere, Art Critic: The Whitney Biennial PDF Print Email


By James Lettiere

Apr. 12, 2017:  No matter what one's tastes in art happen to be, I think it is always worth the effort to visit the Whitney Biennial. This year's version, open through June 11, is no exception. There is much that poses questions that are difficult to answer and there is plenty that does not seem to make sense.

The Whitney Museum's website describes the 2017 Biennial as follows:  "The 2017 Whitney Biennial, the seventy-eighth installment of the longest-running survey of American art, arrives at a time rife with racial tensions, economic inequities, and polarizing politics. Throughout the exhibition, artists challenge us to consider how these realities affect our senses of self and community. The Biennial features sixty-three individuals and collectives whose work takes a wide variety of forms, from painting and installation to activism and video-game design. . . . The Whitney Biennial is the longest running survey of contemporary art in the United States, with a history of exhibiting the most promising and influential artists and provoking lively debate." 

To focus on the positive, I was pleased to see quite a bit of good painting. The Biennial includes figurative paintings and abstract paintings, as well as some that are not conducive to labels. One of my favorites is Shara Hughes, who reminds me of Charles Burchfield

The Biennial also features excellent photography by John Divola, among others, and a series of laminated glass boxes by Larry Bell, each containing another differently configured glass cube. There is also a good amount of provocative video, film, and other audio and visual media.

I think it is useful to join one of the informal tours that are conducted throughout the day because there is a huge amount of subject matter to digest and it helps to have a knowledgeable person describe what is going on.

Whitney Museum 
of American Art

99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014

Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10:30 am to 6:00 pm
Tuesday: closed
Friday and Saturday: 10:30 am to 10:00 pm

Photo by James Lettiere

Sándor Szabó to Give Harpsichord Concert--From Renaissance to Rock--Sunday, April 23 PDF Print Email


By Dr. Sándor Szabó, Music Director and Organist, The Reformed Church of Bronxville

Apr. 12, 2017:  Dr. Sándor Szabó will present a concert titled "The Art of the Harpsichord--From Renaissance to Rock" on Sunday, April 23, at 4:00 pm in the intimate sanctuary of GoldenSword International Fellowship Church, 10 Tanglewylde Avenue.

The program will include compositions by the most brilliant composers of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical eras juxtaposed with exuberant works by some of the most notable composers of the twentieth century. This encounter of past and present is sure to engage both intellect and emotion as Dr. Szabó performs these masterworks written expressly for the Queen of Instruments, the harpsichord.

The concert will be played, and plucked, on a Hubbard French Double manual, built in 1974, a copy of a harpsichord by eminent French harpsichord builder Pascal J. Taskin, who flourished in the eighteenth century. Today, his instruments are considered the pinnacle of the art.

The program will include the following works: the charming "Under the Linden Tree" by Sweelinck; the rhapsodic and virtuosic Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue by Bach; the enchanting and poetic Air and Variations, ("Harmonious Blacksmith") by Handel; the flamboyant La Marche des Scythes by Royer; the witty D Major sonata, K. 13, by Scarlatti; the famous "Turkish March" by Mozart; the jazzy Blue Rondo a la Turk by BrubeckBeethoven's regal "God Save the King" variations; rags by Joplin and Locklair; the rock-infused Danca Ostinata by Albright; and Bird-Boogie by Byrd/Goebels. Fun for all ages! 

Hungarian keyboard virtuoso Dr. Sándor Szabó has performed in major concert halls and cathedrals throughout Europe and North America on harpsichord, piano, and organ. Dr. Szabó is currently music director and organist at The Reformed Church of Bronxville.

Tickets are $15, $10, and $5 in advance and $20, $15, and $10 at the door. For more information, email CLOAKING or call 908-267-1980.

Pictured here:  Dr. Sándor Szabó playing the harpsichord.

Photo courtesy Dr. Szabó

Sarah Lawrence College Holds Second Annual Sarah Awards for Audio Fiction PDF Print Email


By Judith Schwartzstein, Vice President for Publicity, Sarah Lawrence College

Apr. 5, 2017:  Judges of the second annual Sarah Lawrence International Audio Fiction Awards presented awards to the winners of this year's competition at a ceremony held at New York Public Radio's Greene Space in Manhattan.

"Homecoming" by Eli Horowitz, Micah Bloomberg, and Mark Phillips of Gimlet Media took the top award in one of the only awards programs for original fiction made for listening. Sarah Lawrence had announced six finalists earlier this month chosen from more than 200 submissions. The works represent a variety of radio dramas from psychological thrillers to musicals to pieces that blend fact and fiction.

Welcome to Night Vale performed, and its founders, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, served as masters of ceremony for the evening, which was streamed live.

The brainchild of Sarah Lawrence College writing faculty member Ann Heppermann and co-founder Martin Johnson of Stockholm, the Sarah Awards are helping to establish the genre of audio fiction as a pillar of creative story making.

"This year's entries show how the field of audio fiction has evolved quickly in the one year since 'the Sarahs' launched," said Heppermann. "Not only did we see an increase in the number of submissions over last year, we also saw an increase in entries coming from around the world. But the most significant development was the increase in entries coming from established podcasting networks, which are starting to create more radio dramas that include well-known Hollywood actors." 

The top three winners of the competition in order were:

Other finalists were:

Executive producer of Radiotopia from PRX Julie Shapiro said:  "Audio fiction is on the rise and the Sarah Awards are right in step, highlighting the best and most creative work being made in this realm around the globe. Honoring these stories and the producers behind them is helping evolve the field at the highest level and bringing visibility and critical discourse into the mix while encouraging and inspiring the best producers out there, emerging top talent, and a new generation of avid audiences."

Heppermann believes the awards' success signals the continued growth of radio drama in the United States and around the world. "It's an exciting time for both creators and listeners alike," she said. "By using the term 'audio fiction,' we hope to expand the concept of narrative fiction made for the ear."

The judges were Daniel Alarcon, writer and executive producer of NPR's Radio Ambulante, a Spanish-language podcast; Malin Axelsson, artistic director of Swedish Radio Drama; Ellen Horne, an executive producer on the Audible Original team and former executive producer of RadiolabRikke Houd, an independent Danish radio maker; Al Letson, the host of public radio's first investigative journalism show, RevealTony Phillips, vice president of on-demand content at WNYC and a former commissioning editor at BBC Radio 4 and the World Service; and Nelly Reifler, author, editor at Post Road, and faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College. 

The award, which comes with cash prizes of $4,000, also brings the winners visibility for their works, which will be aired on Serendipity, the monthly podcast of works that won Sarah Awards.

"The Sarah Awards, much like the mission of Sarah Lawrence College, are about celebrating, rewarding, and cultivating new talent while encouraging experimentation with a groundbreaking art form," said college president Karen R. Lawrence.

About the Sarah Awards

The Sarah Awards are sponsored by Sarah Lawrence College. The college has cultivated the talents of visionaries like Yoko OnoMeredith MonkJ.J. AbramsAlice Walker, and many others. Sponsorship of the Sarah Awards recognizes the college's commitment to furthering the intersection of the narrative, arts, and technology.

The co-founders, Ann Heppermann and Martin Johnson, have developed a collaboration supporting the Sarah Awards that includes a partnership with KCRW and Acast. Serendipity, the pioneering podcast launched in July of 2015, has been downloaded more than 100,000 times to date.

The founders

Ann Heppermann, a member of the Sarah Lawrence writing faculty, teaches audio fiction and narrative journalism and is a documentary artist, reporter, and producer whose stories air nationally and internationally on National Public Radio, the BBC, and numerous shows. Her Peabody award-winning work has aired on numerous public radio shows, including This American Life99% Invisible, and Radiolab. In 2011, she was named a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow. She hosts the fiction podcast Serendipity with Martin Johnson.

Martin Johnson is the creative director at Ljudbang productions in Stockholm and a radio producer, journalist, sound designer, and author. In 2008, he won Prix Italia for his documentary My Father Takes a Vacation. His work has been broadcast around the world in England, Canada, USA, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Finland, Norway, and Ireland. His collection of essays called The Ocean was published in 2012 to much critical acclaim and is translated into several languages. He has written several radio drama plays.

Pictured here (L to R): Vijay Seshadri of Sarah Lawrence Writing Program, Eli Horowitz, Mark Phillips, Micah Bloomberg, Ann Heppermann, and Martin Johnson.

Photo courtesy Judith Schwartzstein, Vice President for Publicity, Sarah Lawrence College

Concordia College to Perform in Historic Reformation Concert at Carnegie Hall Sunday, June 25 PDF Print Email


By Holly Magnani, Web and Media Relations Manager, Concordia College

Apr. 5, 2017:  Concordia College is honored to participate in a hymn festival at Carnegie Hall in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on Sunday, June 25, at 2:00 pm.

The concert will feature two massed choirs: the Lutheran National Festival Choir and the Concordia Lutheran Festival Choir. Hundreds of singers are coming from across the country as well as Germany to perform in this special event. The choirs will be accompanied by the Concordia Camerata Chamber Orchestra.

Conducted by Concordia College-New York Director of Choral Activities Dr. Jason Thoms and Concordia College-New York President Emeritus Ralph C. Schultz, this not-to-be-missed event will feature original music and historically significant selections like Cantata 80, the "Reformation Cantata," by Johann Sebastian Bach. The members of the audience will participate in the hymn festival by adding their voices to the massed choirs in the singing of hymns.

Concordia's affiliation with Carnegie Hall runs deep. In 1912, Concordia's first-ever choir had its first performance as part of an annual Reformation service at Carnegie Hall.

"Some events come around literally once-in-forever! There will never be another 500th anniversary of this world-changing transformation of church and society," commented Concordia College president, Rev. Dr. John A. Nunes. "Take, for example, how we understand the roles of everyday people like laborers or parenthood. I'm hoping that thousands will join us to celebrate the timelessness of the Reformation."

Tickets are available for $50, $25, and $15. Group tickets are available at a 20% discount. All tickets can be purchased at

For additional information, please contact Holly Magnani at  CLOAKING .

Photo courtesy Holly Magnani, Web and Media Relations Manager, Concordia College

Bronxville Library Promotes National Library Week: Read 1,000 Books before Kindergarten PDF Print Email


By Bronxville Public Library Staff

Apr. 5, 2017:  In conjunction with National Library Week, April 9 to 15, the Bronxville Public Library is promoting its ongoing 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program ( Its aim is to encourage parents and caregivers to build literacy-rich environments through reading, talking, singing, and writing. All such experiences help children build positive associations with learning that will benefit them throughout their school-age years.

The goal of the program is just what it sounds like: read 1,000 books to or with your child by the start of kindergarten. It's not as daunting as it sounds; just one story a day for three years comes to 1,095 books. Any child not yet attending kindergarten may participate--and, of course, children who begin the program before they enter school may continue until they reach their goal. 

Register in the children's room and receive a free 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten folder containing a reading log and a wealth of early literacy information. And don't worry--book titles are not recorded; participating is as simple as putting down checkmarks every time you read. Small prizes are also given for every 100 books read as a reward for all your hard work.

Take advantage of all your library has to offer. Talk with the librarians about early literacy and attend one of the many storytimes offered for children starting at birth. For exact program dates and times, check the library's calendar at And get started on your 1,000--any day of the year (it doesn't have to be during National Library Week). Come to the library and pick up your kit. It's that simple. And that powerful.

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