November 26, 2014

Buy Gift Books at Chester’s Holiday Book Sale – Dec. 4 -7

The Friends of Chester Library are hosting a Holiday Book Sale, with gift-quality, new, and like-new books in a wide variety of genres at reasonable prices. Some Chester authors will also have books for sale.

The sale opens Thursday, Dec. 4, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Chester Public Library, located at 21 West Main St. (Rte. 148), Chester. Free gift wrapping will be offered at that time by the Friends. The sale will continueon Friday and Saturday during library hours and ends at the Holiday Market in Chester Center on Sunday, Dec. 7, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Questions? Call the library at 860-526-0018.

Special Artist Demonstrations by Maple and Main Gallery Artists

CHESTER – Special demonstrations by Maple and Main Gallery artists will be featured on the Sundays between Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same time the Holiday Market is open in the downtown.

Food artisans offering local cheese, bread, meat, honey, fish and more will be in the gallery and around town from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the four Sundays. The gallery artists will be painting from noon to 2 p.m. or so.

Sunday, Nov. 30: Pam Carlson of Essex will do a painting of cows and talk about how she creates her popular farm animals in acrylic.



Sunday, Dec. 7: Dan Nichols, who lives in Manchester, will do a watercolor painting using some overlay in opaque paint, explaining his technique as he works.



Sunday, Dec. 14: Westbrook artist Kimberly Petersen will do a local landscape, also in acrylic and will talk about her method.

Sunday, Dec. 21: Jan Blencowe of Clinton will lead a sketching session centering on the display of chocolates the gallery will arrange that day for both subject matter and consumption.


Bring drawing supplies and join in or just be entranced by the process. Maple and Main Gallery, at 1 Maple Street, is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit the website: or call 860-526-6065.

Recreation of Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” in Free Drawing at Maple and Main Gallery


“The Starry Night”, Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 masterpiece has been recreated by Maple and Main artist Donna Favreau and is being given away in a free drawing at the gallery.

Van Gogh’s inspiration was the very early morning view from his asylum window in France, but Favreau’s was the upcoming “Starry, Starry Night” theme of Chester’s annual Holiday evening Friday, Dec. 5. All the galleries, shops and restaurants will have special offerings and be open until 9 p.m. that night. There will be a town tree lighting and carol singing outside the gallery and inside we will have wine and refreshments.

The drawing begins Friday, Nov. 21, continues through the gallery gala Holiday Exhibit opening Saturday, Nov. 22 from 5 to 8 p.m. and concludes at 9 p.m. on Dec. 5 when the fortunate winner’s name will be drawn.

Maple and Main is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please visit website, Click on “Events” to see a selection of the art in the Holiday Exhibit.

Chester Celebrates the Holidays at a Starry Night Festival – Dec. 5

Saint Lucia Girls are a holiday tradition in Chester

Saint Lucia Girls are a holiday tradition in Chester

Festive holiday spirit and treats will abound on Friday, Dec. 5, under the Starry, Starry Night at the annual Chester Holiday Festival, which begins at 5 p.m. Main Street, in the historic and picturesque Chester Center, will be lined with luminaries and Saint Lucia Girls will stroll around with treats. The art and photography galleries of Chester will host new exhibits and the shops will be festively decorated and full of holiday gift ideas, while offering beverages and light refreshments while you browse. At 6 p.m., carolers will stroll through Chester Center and gather around the town tree for the town’s annual tree-lighting and community sing-along.  Free parking is available at the Water Street and the Maple Street parking lots, both a short walk to the center. Up the hill at the Chester Meeting House will be the 5th Annual Holiday Shopping Extravaganza, where you can meet artisans selling their handcrafted gifts.

Join in the Community Carol Sing-along at 6 p.m. around the town Christmas tree

Join in the Community Carol Sing-along at 6 p.m. around the town Christmas tree

More information can be found at

Al Malpa Photography Gallery (4 Spring St.) welcomes you to see Al’s photography while enjoying light refreshments and a glass of wine. Check out the table of Chester books, ornaments, and hats from various Chester nonprofits – they make great holiday gifts!

Bell’Oliva (14 Main St.) will be giving out handmade origami stars with little holiday wishes inside. Search for the items in the store with stars on them – they’re on sale!  Starry music will be playing and stars will be hanging.  A telescope will be outside on the porch for stargazing, weather permitting.

Brown-eyed Girl and Vintage Glory (4 Water St.) will be offering libations and luxury. All star-studded merchandise will be 20% off this evening only.

C&G Unparalleled Apparel (1 North Main St.) will give away star earrings with any purchase of $50 or more. Also, C&G will be featuring its new, just completed, perpetual calendar. Tucked inside its canister are twelve long, literate, time-themed months designed for recording birthdays, anniversaries, and for remembering a tribute, a trip, a triumph! Hanging on your wall, it will become an artful timepiece celebrating all the special times in your life.

Ceramica (36 Main St.) will take email addresses from visitors each week till Christmas, and will draw a name for a different item on Sundays at 5:00 (you don’t have to be present to win).

Chester Gallery (76 Main St.) presents its annual Postcard Show where all work is 4 by 6 inches or smaller.  Come and sip champagne by the fire while viewing art you can take home in your pocket on a Starry, Starry Night in Chester.

Connecticut River Artisans (4 Water St.): Artists will be on hand to greet the strollers and offer homemade goodies and wine. Special decorations outside.

Cupcakery (1 Main St.) will feature a great selection of holiday favorite cupcake flavors – Starry Night, Christmas Morning and Gingerbread, to name a few.

At Dina Varano (27 Main St.), stars will be shining throughout the store. Dina will be featuring her signature sterling silver pendants along with lots of special gifts to celebrate Chester’s Starry Night.

At ELLE Design (1 Main St.), light up your starry night with one of ELLE’s custom light fixtures! This night only, all lighting will be on sale. The percentage off will be identified by star-shaped hang tags. Come early for the best selection!

At Gallery Americana (45 Main St.), owner Bill Vollers will be exhibiting his most recent works as well as new additions to his collection of Americana antiques and primitives. Please visit for a glass of wine and other treats.

Lark (4 Water St.) says, “Our customers are stars and they deserve to twinkle!”  Therefore, they will have starry starry night giveaways and glow-in-the-dark stars for each customer.  There will be photo opportunities for customers who will get their very own star on Lark’s window of fame. Experience thousands of twinkle lights and stars throughout the store and take advantage of the special promotional pricing on all Linnea’s Lights and Skeem candles, fragranced with only essential oil fragrances.

Leif Nilsson Spring Street Gallery (1 Spring St.) will be open to visitors and Leif will be featuring an oil painting from this summer’s crop of new work, “The Studio with Eyebrow Dormer.”

Lori Warner Gallery (21 Main St.) will be decked out for the holidays. New work will be unveiled that evening. Be the first to see small-scale artwork by Lori Warner, new jewelry by Ann Lightfoot and a few other surprises. The gallery will serve its traditional specialty drink to toast the season.

Maple and Main Gallery (1 Maple St.), located across from the town Christmas tree, will be serving wine, appetizers and chocolate delights. The holiday exhibit with all new art by 37 Connecticut artists will be on display as will a one-woman show in the Stone Gallery by Madison artist Janine Robertson. The gallery will have a free drawing at the end of the evening for a beautiful copy of the painting, “Starry, Starry Night.” The original by Vincent Van Gogh is being duplicated by Westbrook artist Donna Favreau.

Red Pepper Gallery (14 Main St.) has great gift items in addition to fabulous clothing from small designers. Enter the drawing for a $25 gift certificate and take home a small surprise in a starry pouch with every purchase for the evening’s festivities.

River Tavern (23 Main St.) will have warm cider and a soup/chowder outside the restaurant during the evening, so stop by to warm up with a hot drink or bite to eat.

Shandell’s, formerly The Joy of Lighting (5 West Main St.), offers handmade lampshades, custom lighting, vintage and one-of-a-kind fixtures and finials, rewiring, repair, and lighting design. The shop will  also be featuring handmade ornaments from Jayne Whittle, proprietor of Chalk Mercantile in Old Saybrook.

Willow Tree (4 Water St.): Angels, fairies and mermaids! All that shimmers and sparkles! Beautiful vintage jewelry, colorful scarves, and homemade star-shaped birdseed ornaments. Stop by and take a look!

60 Minutes and Frontline Stalwarts Speak in Chester – Dec. 14

Philip Scheffler

Philip Scheffler

Together and apart, Philip Scheffler and James Jacoby have provided television coverage of some of the most significant events in contemporary history. Scheffler, who was a longtime executive editor and producer for 60 Minutes, and his protégé, Jacoby, now with PBS’s Frontline, will talk of their experiences at 3 p.m., Sunday, December 14, at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester in a free program open to the public.

In all, Scheffler, who lives in Essex and Manhattan, spent 52 years at CBS, and his work spanned from producing insightful reporting on the Vietnam War to big stories in government, politics, medicine, international affairs and other categories that helped make 60 Minutes one of the most successful programs in broadcasting.

Jacoby worked with Scheffler at CBS before moving to PBS, where he is a producer for Frontline. While at 60 Minutes, he worked often with Steve Kroft to create segments on bank failures, arson investigations, nuclear arms deals and other major developments.

During the first part of the forum, Scheffler and Jacoby will discuss their accomplished careers and experiences in seeing the world through the eyes of a reporter.  The audience will become participants through comments and questions for the speakers about their experiences and world events that are in today’s headlines.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  For more information, please call the synagogue office (860-526-8920) or visit the website,

Lara Herscovitch at the Concert in the Garden, Chester – Dec. 14

Lara Herscovitch will be performing on Sunday, December 14, 2014 from 4 - 6 pm at the Concert in the Garden

Lara Herscovitch will be performing on Sunday, December 14, 2014 from 4 – 6 pm at the Concert in the Garden (photo Leif Nilsson)

Lara Herscovitch will be performing on Sunday, December 14, 2014 from 4 – 6 pm at the Concert in the Garden at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery, Spring Street, Chester.

“Pure musical poetry” (The Courier), Lara Herscovitch’s music is an original blend of modern folk with blues, jazz, and pop influences. With her voice “clear and smooth like expensive liquor,” she stands “above and beyond the pack” (Northeast Performer). Former Connecticut State Troubadour, Lara brings a charm, authenticity, and love of performing that immediately resonates with diverse audiences. She has appeared as a guest on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor and tours from Maine to Miami. She also has extensive experience as a policy social worker, and has worked in the US, Latin America and Asia on behalf of disadvantaged individuals – focusing on education, community development, and juvenile justice. Echoes of these themes resonate throughout her music.

$10 donation – BYOB and picnic – Inside the GalleryGATES OPEN Half Hour before the show. First come first seated.

More info (860) 526-2077

The United Church of Chester Christmas Fair – Dec. 6

The United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT will hold its annual Christmas Fair on Saturday, December 6, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Come enjoy shopping for hand-crafted items and delicacies, decorations, greens, knitted goods and mouth-watering morsels for holiday giving.

There will also be a silent auction, tea-cup auction and Grandma’s attic to prowl through for Christmas treasurers and charitable gift-giving possibilities.  Lunch will be served between 11:00 and 1:00.  Please contact Brenda Johnson if you have any questions (860) 526-2998.

Christmas Craft Fair at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Essex – Dec. 6

Three members of the Craft Fair committee admiring "Molly" - from left to right: Mary Ellen Cozzolino, Irene Listorti and Angela Johnson

Three members of the Craft Fair committee admiring “Molly” – from left to right: Mary Ellen Cozzolino, Irene Listorti and Angela Johnson

Good Golly…..It’s Molly!

Many hands and happy hearts have gone into the planning and preparation of this year’s CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIR at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Essex including:

Pizza parties, with children discovering the simple joy of making ornaments while listening to Christmas carols.

Convivial craft-making gatherings and planning meetings with new and old friends.  Visiting town merchants, and businesses to hand out posters and share local news.

A special feature of the fair is American Girl doll, Molly.   She will be included in a silent auction, with an exclusive wardrobe hand made by Essex designers.  A WWII history doll, Molly has recently been archived by the company.

Also featured is a small collection of international nativity scenes.  Each crèche is made to reveal what’s important to a culture by the artist’s interpretation of the scene.

There will be raffle baskets, a bake sale, affordable gifts, crafts lovingly made by little and big hands, refreshments …. And lots of good cheer.

Come, enjoy this quintessential New England town, its church fairs, and remember why we celebrate this beautiful season.

Christmas Craft Fair
Satuday, December 6
9:00am to 3:00pm

Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 14 Prospect St., Essex, CT 06426

For more information call 860-388-8180

Dec. 15 Referendum Set for Proposed $8.085 Million Bonding Authorization for Essex Capital Projects

ESSEX– Voters will go to the polls for an all-day referendum on Dec. 15 to act on a proposed $8,085,000 bonding authorization for town capital projects. The board of selectmen approved the bonding resolution question Wednesday after a public hearing where the plan drew general support from residents.

About 60 residents turned out for the public hearing on the capital projects plan that was developed over the past year by a three-member Capital Projects Building Committee led by Selectman Bruce Glowac. While there were several questions, no one spoke in direct opposition to any of the proposed building projects or the proposed $8 million bonding total. The cost estimates for each project were developed by CME Associates Inc. a Woodstock engineering fire retained by the town.
The bonding authorizations would be presented as five separate ballot questions for bridge projects, Essex Elementary School projects, town hall projects, public works garage projects, and a $600,000 authorization to purchase a new pumper fire truck for the volunteer fire department.

The largest projects, which had already been identified as priorities when the committee began its work, include replacement of the Walnut Street and Ivory Street bridges in the Ivoryton section for an estimated cost of  $2,845,000, and replacement of the elementary school roof for an estimated cost of $1.4 million. Four additional projects, including $600,000 for air conditioning the school building, would bring the total estimated cost for elementary school projects to $2,815,000. The Walnut Street bridge replacement and the elementary school roof would be eligible for federal or state grant funding reimbursement of $2,055,000.  The funding reimbursement would reduce the total cost borne by town taxpayers to $6,030,000, though the bonding authorizations must be for the total project cost amounts.

The six improvement projects at town hall have an estimated cost of $1.3 million, including $500,000 to renovate land use offices, $200,000 for roof replacement, and $200,000 for air conditioning the building that was first constructed as a high school in the 1890s. Four projects at the town public works garage have an estimated cost of $525,000 including $109,000 for roof replacement and $264,000 for a two bay addition that would provide space for equipment storage.

Glowac acknowledged the proposed $8 million in bonding is ” a big number,” but maintained all of the projects are “real needs as opposed to wants,” that would address town and elementary school capital improvement issues for the next 20 years, which would also be the term of the bonds. He said all of the cost estimates represent  “worst case” projections with the actual amount to be bonded likely to be less than the requested authorizations. First Selectmen Norman Needleman said selectmen and the finance board may decide to pay for some of the smaller projects with transfers from the town’s $2.9 million undesignated fund balance, without the need for bonding.

Finance Director Kelly Sterner said the town expects to use bond anticipation notes, which have a one-year maturity, for some of the initial projects, such as the bridges. Most of the bonds would be issued in late 2016 or early 2017. The highest year for debt service is expected to be 2017-2018, when debt payments would add about 0.49 mills to the property tax rate that is currently set at 21.99 mills, or $21.99 in tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value.

Sterner said the 0.49 mills in 2017-2018 would represent about $147 in additional tax for a property assessed at $300,000. Debt service costs would begin dropping in 2020-2021, falling more steeply around 2027 leading to a final pay off in the 2036-2037 fiscal year.

The bonding resolutions will be presented for further discussion, but not amendment from the floor, at a Dec. 3 town meeting that begins at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall. The Dec. 15 referendum would be conducted from 6 a.m.  to 8 p.m.

Chester Main Street East Project has Nov. 25 Public Information Meeting, Dec. 9 Town Meeting Vote on Funding

CHESTER— Final plans for the Main Street East reconstruction project will be presented at a Nov. 25 public information meeting, with a Dec.9 town meeting scheduled to authorize use of $375,000 in town capital expenditure program funds for the project.

First Selectman Edmund Meehan reported at Tuesday’s meeting of the board of selectmen that nearly complete design plans for the project will be presented at the public information meeting that is set for 7 p.m. on Nov. 25  in the community room at town hall. The project calls for reconstructing 1,800 linear feet of Main Street from the intersection with Route 154 east to the vicinity of the Laurel Hill Cemetery. Plans also call for new sidewalks, including a new continuous sidewalk on the north side of the street.

The plan for a continuous north side sidewalk drew objections from two abutting property owners and some residents at an April public information meeting, but project engineers are working with the two property owners to reach agreement on the exact design for the north side sidewalk.

The project, the first phase of a long-range plan for a full reconstruction of Main Street through the downtown business district, is projected to cost about $1.5 million, an amount that is about $160,000 over the available funding. The town has $980,000 in state Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants for the project, along with $375,000 in town capital expenditure program funds that have been set aside in recent years.

Meehan said project engineers are currently working to scale back some elements of the project and develop bid alternates that would keep the total cost of the project within the $1.35 million in available funding. Officials are hoping to put the project out to bid early next year for a start of construction in the spring.

Release of the capital expenditures program funds requires approval from voters at a town meeting. Selectmen Tuesday scheduled a Dec. 9 town meeting to vote on the Main Street East project funding authorization, along with action on appropriations of $10,000 for new police mobile radios, and $6,055 as the town funding match to a state grant for security improvements at Chester Elementary School that include 10 new cameras and a gate that would limit access to one side of the school. building that is considered too accessible to intruders.

Ring in the Season in Chester on Nov. 30

On Sunday, Nov. 30 at Lori Warner Gallery, Mandy Carroll-Leiva will present a small collection of new rings for this one-day event. Gorgeous, large cocktail rings will be unveiled. The gallery will also have a beautiful grouping of Mandy’s popular, natural diamond and other unique, unheated, stone rings. Mandy Carroll-Leiva will be present and available to discuss custom rings and earrings created in time for the holidays.

On Sunday, Nov. 30 at Lori Warner Gallery, Mandy Carroll-Leiva will present a small collection of new rings for this one-day event. Gorgeous, large cocktail rings will be unveiled. The gallery will also have a beautiful grouping of Mandy’s popular, natural diamond and other unique, unheated, stone rings. Mandy Carroll-Leiva will be present and available to discuss custom rings and earrings created in time for the holidays.

Once again Chester Center will welcome the holidays with its annual Holiday Market on four Sundays, Nov. 30 through Dec. 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stroll through the picturesque historic Chester village while shopping the market of local growers and producers of artisan baked goods, jams and jellies,  fall vegetables, fresh seafood, poultry and meats.

To add to the holiday spirit, Chester shops, restaurants and galleries will be dressed up in their holiday finery and offering special holiday happenings. On Sunday, Nov. 30, the Holiday Market theme is “Ring in the Season,” so you’ll find Bell-inis at River Tavern, unique bells for sale in the shops at 4 Water Street, ding-a-ling discounts in some shops, and town criers ringing out the news of what’s happening in town.

At the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio, from 11 a.m. to noon, explore music with Munchkin Music’s Ms. Rose; Face Arts Music will offer hands-on music exploration for children of all ages.    From noon to 1 p.m., take a fun musical journey around the globe with Face Arts Music instructors Frank Natter Jr. and Hillyn Natter.  This interactive children’s music show will be fun for the whole family.  Come to sing along, get up and move.

At Maple and Main Art Gallery, between noon and 2 p.m., artist Pam Carlson will do a painting of cows in acrylics on canvas while you watch. She’ll discuss her methods, share her techniques and answer your questions.

A schedule of each week’s happenings will be at and and will also be available at the market.

Dorie Greenspan, Cooking Guru, Comes to Chester – Dec. 7

Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan

Her new book, “Baking Chez Moi,” is already causing a national sensation – how can it be possible to dazzle dinner party guests with French pastries that are so easy to make?

Dorie Greenspan, author of eight cookbooks, has the answers and will reveal them when she comes to Chester in a free Books & Bagels program, one of the last stops on a nationwide book tour, at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 7, at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek.

Reviews of the book have been scrumptious. Library Journal, in a starred review, calls it “an instant classic.” And three weeks after release this fall it was ranked number 1 in cookbook sales nationally.

Among the enticing and simple desserts in Dorie’s repertoire: chocolate loaf cake speckled with cubes of dark chocolate that have been melted, salted, and frozen; boozy, slow-roasted pineapple (a five-ingredient cinch); silky caramel tarts, and crackle-topped cream puffs.

The recipes are culled from French home cooks and chefs and include her own original creations based on traditional and regional specialties. Her friendly reassuring instructions in all of her books have won her legions of ardent fans who appreciate how she’s made French dishes accessible to all of us stateside.

Dorie, a Westbrook resident who also has an apartment in Paris, says in her introduction, “These are the recipes the French bake at home for their families and their closest friends. They are generous, satisfying recipes tied to places, traditions, customs and culture. And they’re the opposite of the complex, fussy, time-consuming desserts most of us associate with French pastry. Some of the sweets are modern, some riffs on classics, some light, others substantial, some sophisticated, most are casual, easy-going and fun.”

This will be Dorie’s third appearance at Books & Bagels, the first two for “Baking” and “Around My French Table.”   Her book will be available for purchase at the event.

Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester.  For more information, call the office 860-526-8920 or visit

Chester Winter Market Events in The Gallery

The Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio & Gallery at One Spring Street, Chester CT is hosting a series of holiday events for families during the Chester Winter Market. Please visit us in the gallery to hear some great music from 11am to 1pm on Sundays from November 30 through December 21, 2014.

November 30 – Hillyn Natter & Rose Natter from Face Arts Music in Deep River will present Munchkin Music, a music class designed for children ages 2-5 as a way for them to experience a variety of instruments, singing, dancing and learn to play music together.

December 7 – Music with Margie – Margie Warner is a songwriter, recording artist, storyteller and music consultant for young children. She will perform many songs from her children’s CDs during this interactive musical extravaganza.

December 14 - Jessica Nevins from Music Together presents “Simple Gifts – Sounds of the Season” for young children and the grown ups that love them.

December 21 - Erica Jewel and friends, Choral and original compositions performed by local teenage musicians. for photos and more information.

Community Sing-a-Long for the Holidays, Essex Library – Dec 4

The Essex Library will be hosting a Community Sing-a-Long for the Holidays, on Thursday, December, at 7-8 p.m., lead by singer, entertainer, guitarist, Jack Bussmann.

When Bussmann, of Cheshire, first  saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, he asked his mom for a guitar and he has been singing , playing his guitar, and entertaining crowds throughout New England, ever since.   Bussmann has also starred in such memorable stage productions as Sound of Music,  Guys and Dolls, Jykll and Hyde, and more.

Bussmann is on a mission with high energy and enthusiasm, “ I present a program full of surprises.  If my audience is not enjoying themselves, then I feel I am not doing my job of spreading happiness. …….you can let your hair down, take a deep breath and sing along with Jack!”

Bussmann will be playing selections for Hannukah, Christmas Around The World, Kwanza, and more.  The program is free and open to all ages.  Light refreshments will be provided.

A Star-Spangled Christmas with Con Brio – Dec. 12 and 14

Ransom Bruce

Ransom Bruce

Con Brio, the shoreline’s renowned all-auditioned chorus, will present its annual Christmas concert on December 12 and 14th, at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme.  Directed by Dr. Stephen Bruce with keyboardist, Assistant Director Susan Saltus, the choir is joined by the Con Brio Festival Orchestra and soloists, Adele Paxton, Karli Gilbertson, Ransom Bruce and Greg Flower.  Con Brio’s Christmas Concerts have become an eagerly awaited, joyous holiday event.

This year is the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”  Con Brio will sing a very special arrangement written by Connecticut native Dudley Buck (1839-1909), one of the most successful American composers of the post-Civil War era.  The audience will have a chance to join in singing our national anthem.

The concert continues with two very different approaches to Christmas themes.  Schubert’s rarely performed Magnificat in C Major, drawing from the classical mass tradition, uses Mary’s text expressing joy and thanksgiving.  Astonishingly, Schubert composed this piece over a period of ten days when he was only eighteen years old.  Stroope’s Cantus Natalis offers a powerful contemporary celebration of Jesus’ birth, with a fourth movement reminiscent of Orff’s Carmina Burana in its rhythmic dynamism.  Stroope’s shorter piece, “Winter,” thrilled an earlier Con Brio audience and this piece is certain to do the same.

The second half of the concert includes two of the most popular motets of the twentieth century, Franz Beibl’s Ave Maria and Distler’s Wachet Auf.  Beibl’s piece, an amalgam of early chant and contemporary choral writing, soared to popularity when it was recently recorded by Chanticleer.  Distler’s piece uses the well-known chorale tune (Sleepers, Wake) to construct a piece wholly different from the original.  Con Brio will then, as is now a tradition, spread out around the wonderful space of Christ the King to perform a ten-part motet by Giovanni Gabrieli.  The audience will be invited to sing along with a Hanukah favorite, Hanerot Halalu and some favorite Christmas carols.  The concert concludes with a rousing Christmas spiritual, Oh Jerusalem and a powerful arrangement of We Saw Three Ships.


Buy your tickets early from any Con Brio member, online at, or by calling 860 526 5399.  Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for students.  The December 12 concert begins at 8pm, the 14th at 3pm, at Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme, Ct.

“Christmas on the Hill Fair” at First Congregational Church Essex – Dec. 6

Members of the committee preparing the live wreaths and greenery decor, one of the fair's most popular features, are (left to right) Mellicent Hawke of Essex, Susan Nilsen of Ivoryton, Judy Greene and Lillian Mosa, both of Essex.

Members of the committee preparing the live wreaths and greenery decor, one of the fair’s most popular features, are (left to right) Mellicent Hawke of Essex, Susan Nilsen of Ivoryton, Judy Greene and Lillian Mosa, both of Essex.

The First Congregational Church in Essex, UCC, 6 Methodist Hill in Essex Village, is holding its “Christmas On The Hill Fair” on Saturday, December 6 from 9:00 am to 2:00 p.m.  The Fair offers live decorated wreaths and greenery, jewelry, vendors, hand crafted gifts by church members, a “Second Time Around” shop, homemade Christmas cookies and holiday foods. A Silent Auction will feature many unusual items up for bid, including a collection of Grateful Dead memorabilia and a Bushnell North Star telescope. Lunch will be available in Fellowship Hall.

Prior to the fair, a “Christmas Soiree” will be held on Friday, December 5 at 6:30 pm at the church. The evening will feature food, wine, carol singing and holiday music performed by the church’s Pastor, Rev. Kenneth Peterkin, accompanied by Essex resident Marian Messek on the piano. Admission to the Christmas Soiree is $12 per person.

Proceeds from both events benefit the missions of the Church. For more information, call (860) 767-8097 or visit

Local Historic Properties Open for Area Families After Thanksgiving

Bring your Thanksgiving visitors to the Pratt House in Essex, built in 1701, on Friday, Nov. 28 and Saturday, Nov. 29.

Bring your Thanksgiving visitors to the Pratt House in Essex, built in 1701, on Friday, Nov. 28 and Saturday, Nov. 29.

After you have celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, step outside and celebrate the rich history of the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex. The historic houses and museums owned by the historical societies in the three towns will be open to the public for free, providing a welcome alternative to dealing with crowds at the malls.

The historic Pratt House, located at 19 West Avenue in Essex, will be open to visitors Friday, Nov. 28, and Saturday, Nov. 29, from 12 to 3 p.m. The house, which was built in 1701, continues to interpret 18th-century farm life and the nine generations of Pratt smithies, many of whom lived there. Its barn, traditional herb garden, and lovely meadow complete the pastoral setting of a New England farmhouse. Take a tour of the house with one of Essex Historical Society’s knowledgeable docents and be transported to a bygone era.  For more information, visit

At the Chester Museum at The Mill is the 1880s high-wheeled Columbia “ordinary” from the CT Historical Society.

At the Chester Museum at The Mill is the 1880s high-wheeled Columbia “ordinary” from the CT Historical Society.

The Chester Museum at The Mill, at 9 West Main Street in Chester, will also be open on Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Skip Hubbard, president of Chester Historical Society, says, “It’s become a tradition. Although our museum season is over, we have been pleased to welcome 40-60 area family members and visitors for the two days following Thanksgiving every year since we opened. People of all ages find the museum a great way to renew or learn local history.  Now is also the last time to see our popular transportation exhibit, ‘Over the River and Through the Woods,’ which features train, trolley, steamboat and ferry travel.  The 1880s high-wheeled Ordinary bicycle is alone worth a visit!” For more information, visit

See “The Gems of the Society” at Deep River’s Stone House.

See “The Gems of the Society” at Deep River’s Stone House.

The Deep River Historical Society showcases their “Gems of the Society” in the Stone House, built by Deacon Ezra Southworth in 1840. The home is furnished in the late Victorian period with oil paintings done by regional artists, and also features collections of Deep River businesses and products including Niland cut glass and ivory products of Pratt, Read & Co. A World War I exhibit, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” showcases the men of Deep River who served in the Great War. The Stone House, at 245 Main Street in Deep River, will be open on Friday, Nov. 28, from 1 to 4 p.m.

For more information, visit

Two Events for Local Artist Dan Dahlstrom at Essex Library in November

Dan Dahlstrom Pic PaintingThe Essex Library will be hosting an art exhibit November 3rd through November 28th, and artist’s “Meet and Greet” on Saturday November 8th, 2014, 1-4 PM, for painter, Daniel (Dan) Dahlstrom.

Mr. Dahlstrom, originally of Essex, CT, currently resides in Chester, CT. His work has been accepted into many local juried shows, including the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, Connecticut, held in conjunction with the Lyme Art Association.  Dan has studied at the prestigious Lyme Art Academy, and with several professional, local artists.

Current commissioned pieces are on display at the Water’s Edge Resort, Westbrook, Connecticut, The Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station, Haddam, Connecticut , and in private collections with select interior designers.

Mr. Dahlstrom’s inspiration comes from the light effects of nature, and his renderings impact a serene, peaceful quality. He often paints scenes of his beloved Chester, The Connecticut River, Long Island Sound, and the surrounding vistas of the beautiful countryside of New England. He enjoys working “en plein air” (in the open air) and in his studio.

Patrons may view his work at The Essex Library: 33 West Avenue, Essex, CT. For more information you may call the library at: (860) 767-1560 or go to:


The Music of Movies Series at Acton Public Library Through December

The Acton Public Library in Old Saybrook will be hosting “The Music of Movies” Series  this fall featuring movies with notable scores and soundtracks. The series will run mostly 3rd Mondays  September  through December at 6:30. On September 15th , The Pink Panther Strikes Again with the music of Henry Mancini will be shown; on Monday, October 20th, Stand By Me with 1950s music, will be shown and on November 24th, The Book Thief with the music of John Williams will be shown. The movie for Dec 15th will be determined by library patron feedback.

For more information, call The Acton Library at 860-395-3184, or visit the library during regular hours: Monday through Thursday 10am – 8:30pm, Friday and Saturday 9am – 5pm, and Oct – May on Sundays 1pm – 5pm or visit on-line at .  Also, visit for movie ratings and recommendations.