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

Bronxville Book Clubs Thrive as Venue for Reading, Discussion, and Friendships PDF Print Email

Dec. 18, 2013:  Combine good books with meeting friends for coffee, over lunch, or at dinner, and you have a winning formula for a lively and sometimes challenging book club.

Bronxville can boast a good number of active books clubs, each with its own approach to reading new books, classics, fiction and nonfiction bestsellers, and the occasional lesser-known work. Some clubs meet seasonally with the summer off, and others, like the Bronxville Men's Book Club, meet all twelve months of the year.

No matter what the club's format, members who are avid readers look forward to selecting a stimulating reading list, hearing reviews of the books selected, participating in discussions, and often sharing not-to-be-missed book recommendations.

The Bronxville Men's Book Club, founded in 2000 by Bill Snyder and Vince Brennan and now led by Donald Gray with help from David McBride, has met monthly on the second Friday for thirteen years at either Siwanoy Country Club or the Bronxville Field Club.

"We don't stop for the summer," said Gray. "We have missed only two meetings in thirteen years."

With just under thirty members, the club has tended to focus on nonfiction books and, for the past year and a half, has read several books dealing with the history of World War II. Member Peter Thorp noted, however, that the club also reads two or three novels each year, plus one broadly defined "classic" book.

At the meetings, which Thorp described as informal, one member reviews the book selection and then opens up a discussion that all members can join. At last Friday's meeting, the members discussed The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, an account of the University of Washington rowing team and its travels to Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games. The club's selection for January is the 1941 novel Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, set during the Stalinist purges of the 1930s.

A women's book club that meets the first Monday of the month at members' homes establishes its reading list each spring for the following year. Its approximately fifteen members began meeting in 2007 and they not only discuss and review the books, they also welcome the occasional author and enjoy field trips to hear authors speak. Jennifer Egan went to a meeting and spoke about her book Visit from the Goon Squad; she described how she came up with ideas for the bookMembers of the club will hear author Robert Caro speak at the University Club in New York City about his latest book, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Volume IV. 

The club convenes from October to June each year, and a different member leads each meeting. Book selections range from biographies and memoirs to novels to books dealing with scientific topics. This calendar year, the club has read and discussed The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, Edmund de Waal's family history memoir framed by a collection of netsuke, Japanese wood and ivory carvings, and Kate Atkinson’s novel Life After Life, built around living one's life more than once. More than one member admitted being challenged by Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans by John Marzluff and Tony Angell, which examines the connections between crows and humans.

Mayor Mary Marvin described her monthly evening book club, twenty-five years strong, as a place where "people take the reading very seriously." Club members pay special attention to filling out their September through June reading list with a variety of genres and include several classics. They choose books one month in advance.

Marvin noted that members have "a great sense of buying local" and tend to purchase books at Womrath Bookshop.

"We have a great book discussion to begin the meetings," Marvin said. Members rotate hosting duties, and the host prepares a full sit-down dinner for club's approximately 15 members. Hosts sometimes prepare a meal based on the book's theme or setting.

The club just finished reading Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey's novel about homesteading in Alaska in the 1920s and read Mary Shelley's classic, Frankenstein, for its Halloween meeting. Adding to the festivities, one member came to the meeting dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein.

Marvin summed up the positive book club experience by saying, "It has created wonderful bonds in literature and friendship."

Photo by A. Warner

Christ Church Photographer Ken Richardson Turns Professional PDF Print Email

Dec. 18, 2013: Ken Richardson, known to many Bronxville residents for his photographic body of work capturing life at Christ Church over the last few years, recently announced his plans to take his camera outside, making his services available to the public.

When questioned about setting up shop in Southern Westchester, a market already overburdened with professional photographers, Richardson explained his decision. "Well, I just bought a new camera, so I'm pretty sure that makes me better than anyone else."

The name of his new endeavor, "Photos by Ken Richardson" ( was chosen to reflect the credit a photojournalist receives beneath his work when published in a newspaper or magazine. Richardson's training was, at one point, under the guidance of legendary photographer Gordon Parks, and he is more into photojournalism than portraiture. Richardson added, "I thought my name should be in the title so people would know I was the one behind the lens. I mean, 'Photos by George Clooney' might be better for business, but I think people would be disappointed when he didn't show up."

Richardson is, in fact, somewhat brighter than he'd have you believe. A graduate of Williams College, he has been a writer and photographer for close to twenty years. He has documented subjects ranging from a sunset on a beach in Hawaii to the life of the poor in Malawi, from a performance by Young at Arts to the plight of the homeless in New York.

"There really are a lot of talented photographers in our area. What I hope to bring with me, whether I'm catching a moment of a family at play, or a bride making those last minute adjustments, or the disbelief on the face of someone whose life has been forever changed by the few hours of an indifferent storm--what I'm always searching for is the photo that tells an entire story in one frame, the one shot that brings you in and makes you a part of what's going on."

Photos by Ken Richardson

Annual 'Messiah' Sing-Along this Saturday, December 14, at 4:00 pm at The Reformed Church PDF Print Email

Dec. 11, 2013:  The Reformed Church of Bronxville's annual Messiah sing-along will be held this coming Saturday, December 14, at 4:00 pm in the church's main sanctuary.

You know the part--now come and sing along with hundreds of friends!

Vocalists of all skill levels are welcome; bring your own score or borrow one at the church.  

A professional vocal quartet from the Chancel Choir of The Reformed Church of Bronxville, accompanied by a string quartet, will lead one of the largest (and most festive!) community sings of Handel's masterpiece in Westchester County.

Featured are Laura Green, soprano; Robin Lynne Frye, mezzo-soprano; Tim O'Connor, tenor; and Robert Mobsby, baritone.

The sing-along is free of charge.

Pictured here:  Soprano Laura Green, a member of the vocal quartet leading the sing-along.

Photo courtesy Samuel Clover, Director of Communications and Ministry Assistant, The Reformed Church of Bronxville

Princeton Nassoons to Perform December 16 at Bronxville Public Library PDF Print Email

Dec. 11, 2013: The Princeton Nassoons, one of the nation's oldest collegiate a cappella groups, will perform a holiday concert at the Bronxville Public Library on Monday, December 16, at 7:00 pm.

The concert, sponsored by Friends of the Bronxville Public Library, is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the performance.

The Nassoons' website says, "Founded in 1941, we have sung our signature four-, five-, and six-part harmonies alongside the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, the Lettermen, and Ben Folds. We tour the globe three times a year, sharing our music, dancing, and jokes with audiences that have included three U.S. presidents, the King and Queen of Jordan, vacationers in Cancun, screaming school children in Taiwan, and socialites in Monte Carlo."

Pictured here: The Princeton Nassoons.

Photo courtesy Bronxville Public Library

Sing We Enchanted to Perform Holiday Concert Saturday, December 21, at Reformed Church PDF Print Email

Dec. 11, 2013: Celebrating its 20th year, the a cappella group Sing We Enchanted will present a light-filled program of early to contemporary carols--from the casual to the sublime--on Saturday, December 21, at 1:30 pm at The Reformed Church of Bronxville.  

Take a little time out from your holiday preparations and relax to the sounds of American, English, French, and German carols. The family-friendly program features Christmas gems of Costeley, Victoria, Reger, Howells, and Macdonald, as well as other traditional tunes, fun jazz arrangements, and familiar favorites. Audience members are invited to meet the artists at a reception following the concert. 

Sing We Enchanted, now in its twentieth season as a Westchester-based a cappella ensemble, performs in venues across the tristate area. Repertoire includes early music, sacred and secular works in a variety of languages, and contemporary American and English selections. Sing We Enchanted is committed to entertaining audiences with new and old a cappella musical works that are typically not widely performed. 

Ensemble members include Nell Macdonald, artistic director, mezzo-soprano; Nancee Adams-Taylor, soprano; Randi Alberino, mezzo-soprano; Kate Ashby, soprano; David Eggers, tenor; Linnea Johnson, mezzo-soprano; Erik-Peter Mortensen, baritone; Lauren Palazolo, soprano; Miran Robarts, soprano; Spencer Smith, bass-baritone; and Laurie Thomashow, soprano.

The suggested donation is $20 and $10 for seniors and students. Donations are also being accepted for Elizabeth's Hope, an organization that provides funding for research for pediatric brain cancer. 

For more information, please visit, e-mail CLOAKING , or call 914-610-6701. You can also visit our Facebook page at

Pictured here:  Members of Sing We Enchanted singing in The Reformed Church of Bronxville

Photo by Amanda Pendleton

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