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

'A Christmas Carol' to Be Performed by Concordia Conservatory December 6 to 8 PDF Print Email

Dec. 4, 2013: More than 85 local students will perform in a holiday production of the musical A Christmas Carol, presented by Concordia Conservatory from December 6 to 8 at the Schoenfeld Campus Center on the campus of Concordia College. Performance times are below.

All performers and crew members are from the region, hailing from the Bronx, Bronxville, Cos Cob, Eastchester, Larchmont, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Pelham, Old Greenwich, Scarsdale, Tuckahoe, and Yonkers.

This is the conservatory's fourteenth annual musical production and features children ages 8-18 who complete an audition and interview to participate. The productions are part of the conservatory's tuition-free community outreach program. The yearly musicals are funded through private donations to Concordia Conservatory.

A Christmas Carol is based on the Charles Dickens holiday classic about Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserable old man who mistreats everyone in his life. Mr. Scrooge is transformed by the spirit of Christmas when he receives a visit from three ghosts on Christmas Eve.

The cast and crew are led by stage director Kathleen Suss and music director Greg Suss, with set designer Eric Zoback, lighting designer John Flanagan, and choreographer Jen Littlefield. Marcy Damasco and Sharon Shearon are the production's producers.

Performance Schedule:

December 6:  4:30 pm and 7:00 pm
December 7:  11:00 am and 1:30 pm
December 8:  1:00 pm and 3:30 pm

Tickets are $22 for adults and $11 for children/seniors. To purchase tickets and for more information, please call 914-395-4507.

Pictured here:  The cast of a Concordia Conservatory production in a recent musical.

Photo courtesy Kathleen Suss, Executive Director, Concordia Conservatory of Music & Art

 
James Joyce's 'Dubliners' to Be Performed at Sarah Lawrence College December 12, 13, 14 PDF Print Email

Dec. 4, 2013:  An original theatrical adaptation of James Joyce's Dubliners will be performed on December 12, 13, and 14 at 7:00 pm in the Suzanne Werner Wright Theatre at Sarah Lawrence College. There is no charge, but tickets are limited. Please call 914-395-2412 or email CLOAKING . for reservations. 

The brainchild of Sarah Plotkin '14, the concept of exploring the Joyce text in a theatrical way was born in a course President Karen Lawrence, a Joycean scholar, teaches at the college.

Plotkin took the course Who's Afraid of James Joyce in her sophomore year. "Karen showed me a different way of looking at Joyce, a way that allowed us to study and discuss the characters without judging or condemning them," she said. "She also encouraged the class to apply our study of Joyce to our other interests."

During her junior year abroad, Plotkin mentally refined the concept of adapting the work. When she returned to campus this year, her studies included a theater course in which she constructed an outline of events she wanted to include, along with blocks of text she thought would work well in a show, and pulled together an ensemble she directs.

The professor lent her time to the production. In October, President Lawrence attended a rehearsal and led a discussion with the cast, giving some background on Dubliners and Joyce's life. "Karen has been very helpful in our process of understanding the text as an ensemble," said Plotkin. "Her passion for the book was contagious."

Created collaboratively by the ensemble over nine weeks, the unusually long rehearsal period allowed the group to incorporate movement, music, improvisation, and puppetry into the production--part of the theater department's mainstage fall season. Using the book's text as a structure for the show, Plotkin explained, the ensemble experimented to create an original production.

In Dubliners, fifteen stories unfold in a parade of moments as the characters share their memories, nightmares, and dreams. "It is an event of struggle and epiphany," explained Plotkin. "The characters are trapped in a metaphorical cycle of struggle and realization, never actually leading to action."

Pictured here:  Members of the cast of Dubliners in rehearsal.

Photo courtesy Judith Schwartzstein, Director of Public Affairs, Sarah Lawrence College

Photo by N. Bower

 
Kyle Swanson, Bronxville High School Senior, Named to All-State Band PDF Print Email


Nov. 27, 2013:  Flutist and piccolo player Kyle Swanson, a Bronxville High School senior, has been named to the 2013 All-State Symphonic Band. The announcement came from the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA), which sponsors the All-State Conference each year for high school juniors and seniors. The 2013 conference will take place December 5-8 in Rochester, New York, with concerts in the Eastman Theatre.

Swanson has been a student of Joseph Piscitelli's at Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale since he began recorder lessons as a kindergartener, switching to flute in third grade and adding piccolo in seventh grade. At Bronxville High School, he plays in the band, orchestra, and pit orchestra for the high school musicals. At Hoff-Barthelson, he plays in the elite Festival Orchestra and in a chamber ensemble during the school year and works as a teaching assistant during the summers. This year, he is also taking an advanced music theory course there with Edmund Niemann, with whom he has studied music history and completed the Advanced Placement Music Theory course, earning the highest possible score on all components.

Sharon Slote, director of the Bronxville middle and high school bands, said that Swanson "plays both the flute and piccolo with astounding technical prowess. His preparations for performances and auditions alike are far beyond those of a typical high school student. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Kyle for the last six-plus years, and I will miss him and all he has to offer musically when he attends college next year."

Over 6,500 sophomores and juniors throughout the state auditioned for All-State at their local NYSSMA solo festivals last spring, performing solos and sight-reading before adjudicators. Approximately 900 students were chosen to perform in one of eight vocal and instrumental ensembles at the conference.

The last two Bronxville High School band members selected for All-State honors were flutist Holly Rudd in 2008 and clarinetist John Devlin in 2002. Rudd is now a first-year graduate student in flute performance at the New England Conservatory; Devlin is a doctoral student in orchestral conducting at the University of Maryland School of Music.

Pictured here:  Kyle Swanson.

Photo by Donna Devlin

 
Randy Frost Among Exhibitors at Manhattan Quilters Guild's Show at Bronxville Library November 15 to December 31 PDF Print Email

 

Nov. 13, 2013:  The Bronxville Public Library will present Material Witnesses, an exhibition of contemporary fine-art quilts by the Manhattan Quilters Guild. Local quilting artist Randy Frost will be among the exhibitors.

The exhibition will run from November 15 to December 31.  A reception will be held on November 17 from 3:00 pm to 4:45 pm. The community is invited.

For the theme of its fifth national traveling exhibit, the Manhattan Quilters Guild chose Material Witnesses, with its multilayered references to the processes and medium of the fiber artist. The title plays with the legal concept of a material witness--someone whom the government feels has information about a crime significant enough to affect the outcome of a trial. Further, to bear witness suggests a direct connection to events. It can be a way of honoring by one's presence.

Each of the 21 pieces in the exhibition indeed embodies these concepts, providing richly textured evidence of a deeply personal vision of the theme. Members have produced work that is their own unique testimony about their perception and experience of life in New York and beyond.

Each witnesses New York City and the world in his or her own way--addressing jury duty, subway construction, technology, legal injustice, crime scene investigation, natural disaster, or abstract images of the buildings and skyline--and interprets that experience in fiber, using a wide range of materials and techniques, including cloth, acrylic, oil, thread, photo transfer, and found objects.

Quilters presenting their work include Ludmila Aristova, Teresa Barkley, Benedicte Caneill, Beth Carney, Randy Frost, Iris Gowen, Luke Haynes, Tatiana Ivina, Katherine Knauer, Emiko Toda Loeb, Ruth Marchese, Paula Nadelstern, Elizabeth Poole, Jeri Riggs, Diana Goulston Robinson, Robin Schwalb, ArleSklar-Weinstein, Daphne Taylor, Ludmilla Uspenskaya, Erin Wilson, and Adrienne Yorinks.

For additional information, please go to the following library website: http://bxvlibrary.org/Bronxville_Public_Library/Welcome!.html

Pictured here (rotating):  Some of the quilts to be shown at the Material Witnesses exhibition.

Photos courtesy Randy Frost  

 
Anne Collins: Book Review of 'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' by Rachel Joyce PDF Print Email


Nov. 13, 2013: Harold was a quiet, self-effacing man. He took care not to be a burden to others. He knew he was a burden to others, because his mother had left him when he was little, and when he was 16, his father, a raging alcoholic, had given him an old, worn overcoat and sent him out the door.

He found joy in his life when he fell in love with Maureen. They married and had a son. David was a brilliant, remote child. He went to Cambridge, where he became an alcoholic like the grandfather he had never met. He hanged himself in his parents' garden shed at the age of 20, where Harold found him and took down his body. Maureen blamed Harold for not having been an "involved" father. Harold blamed himself, because his own life experiences had taught him never to be anything but marginally involved.

The marriage became a wall of silence.

When Harold retired from his job at the local brewery where he had worked for many years, he began living at home in what seemed almost like an empty house.

When Harold hears that Queenie Hennessey, an old friend who had worked with him at the brewery 20 years previously, is dying of cancer, he decides to walk the length of England to Berwick-on-Tweed to see her. He is obsessed with guilt over a favor she did for him many years before. He had intended to simply write her a note, but on the way to the post box, he changes his mind. If he walks, she will stay well. He departs from Kingsbridge, in Devon, wearing only the clothes he has on.

The walk becomes a pilgrimage.

Having now the chance to be on his own, Harold begins to reflect on the events in his life and try to understand the meaning of it all. As he travels, he becomes less remote, more in touch with the everyday world. He becomes stronger, more confident, more fit. He begins to open up to the people he comes into contact with every day and interact.

When he arrives in Bath, he does not recognize his reflection in the shop windows. "The man staring back at him was so upright and appeared to be so sure-footed, he had to look twice to check it really was himself." At this point, Harold believed his journey was truly beginning: "Beginnings could happen more than once, or in different ways. You could think you were starting something afresh, when actually what you were doing was carrying on as before. . . . The real business of walking was happening only now."

Eventually, he is joined by so many other walkers, all with their own agendas, that the journey loses all meaning for him. There is constant quarreling and arguing among the fellow travelers. Ultimately, the others, becoming impatient, will outstrip him in his journey and he will be able to proceed on his own again.

After he has been away from home for some while, Maureen becomes concerned and sets out to find him. They meet and she asks him to come home, but he wishes to continue to Queenie's side. Later he regrets his decision, but Maureen at this point realizes how important the pilgrimage is to him and urges him on.

He manages to reach Queenie in time to say goodbye but leaves unsaid his apologies for allowing her to take the blame for his trashing of their bosses' office after David died.

Through his pilgrimage, Harold has learned that it is more meaningful, if also more difficult, to be involved in the world. Maureen joins him at the hospice. He tells her about Queenie's condition and they both, knowing that there will be difficult times ahead, confront the truth that when it comes to the human condition, everyone is on the same journey, everyone is the same. The book ends with the two of them recalling the evening they first met, many years before, and laughing together about the silly things they said to each other that night.

(Respectfully, this story would make a terrific opera.)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce, was published by Random House in 2012.

Editor's Note: Writer Anne Collins lives is Bronxville and, now retired, was a librarian at the Purchase Free Library.

Pictured here: Anne Collins.

Photo by N. Bower

 
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