Essex Winter Series will present four diverse and exciting concerts in 2015, including two programs of classical chamber music, a concert of jazz from the early part of the twentieth century, and — for the first time — a world-renowned chamber chorus. Programmed by EWS artistic director Mihae Lee and newly-appointed Jazz Impresario Jeff Barnhart, these concerts offer world-class performing artists and an impressive array of styles and genres.
The first concert, StringFest2, takes place on Sunday, Jan. 11, at 3 p.m. at Valley Regional High School in Deep River. 2015 Fenton Brown Emerging Artists, the Attacca Quartet, will share the stage with three members of the Amphion Quartet — who performed in the first StringFest in 2011 as the EWS Emerging Artists— and the renowned violinist Erin Keefe. The members of the Attacca Quartet are Amy Schroeder and Keiko Tanagawa, violin; Luke Fleming, viola; and Andrew Yee, cello. The members of the Amphion Quartet who will perform in this program are Katie Hyun, violin; Andy Wei-Yang Lin, viola; and Mihai Marica, cello.
The concert begins with three musicians of the Amphion Quartet performing Franz Schubert’s String Trio in B flat major, followed by the Amphion Quartet in a performance of Edvard Grieg’s String Quartet in G minor. After intermission, the two groups joined by Erin Keefe will perform the exciting Octet for Strings in E flat, written in 1825 by the remarkably precocious sixteen-year-old Felix Mendelssohn.
Three concerts, all Sundays at 3 p.m., follow the season opener on Jan. 11. The Stu Ingersoll Jazz Concert on Feb. 8 at Valley Regional High School will feature Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. On March 1, Chanticleer, “ An Orchestra of Voices” will perform a program entitled “The Gypsy in My Soul” at Old Saybrook High School. The final concert, on March 29 at Valley Regional High School, will be an exciting program of piano trios, with Artistic Director and pianist Mihae Lee, violinist Chee-Yun and cellist Julie Albers.
StringFest2 is co-sponsored by Guilford Savings Bank and Essex Meadows.
All tickets to Essex Winter Series concerts are general admission. Individual tickets are $35; four-concert subscriptions are $120, which represents a $20 saving over the single-ticket price for four concerts. Tickets may be purchased on the EWS website,www.essexwinterseries.com, or by calling 860-272-4572.
The performers in Stringfest2 include:
First Prize winners of the 7th Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2011, top prizewinners and Listeners’ Choice Award recipients in the 2011 Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, and winners of the Alice Coleman Grand Prize at the 60th annual Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition in 2006, the internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet has become one of America’s premier young performing ensembles. The Attacca Quartet is now in its eleventh season, having been formed at the Juilliard School in 2003. It is comprised of violinists Amy Schroeder and Keiko Tokunaga, violist Luke Fleming and cellist Andrew Yee. They made their professional debut in 2007 as part of the Artists International Winners Series in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall and have appeared there on numerous occasions since. The Attacca Quartet recently recorded the complete string quartet works of John Adams for Azica Records, which was released to great acclaim in March 2013. 2013-2014 marked the fourth season of “The 68,” an ambitious project in which the Attacca Quartet will perform all sixty-eight Haydn string quartets on a special series they created in New York. They have been honored with the 2013 National Federation of Music Clubs Centennial Chamber Music Award, the Arthur Foote Award from the Harvard Musical Association, and the Lotos Prize in the Arts.
Hailed for its “gripping intensity” and “suspenseful and virtuoso playing” (San Francisco Classical Voice), the Amphion String Quartet is a winner of the 2011 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition and joined the roster of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two Program in fall 2013. Through LCCMS, the ensemble made its Alice Tully Hall debut in March 2014, about which the New York Times praised “the focused, forceful young Amphion String Quartet” for its “sharply detailed performances.”
This season includes their Mostly Mozart debut with two recitals at Avery Fisher Hall and a return to Korea for the Busan Chamber Music Festival. The quartet has several return engagements in New York, including two LCCMS performances at Alice Tully Hall, Schneider Concerts at the New School, Brooklyn’s Bargemusic and the Tilles Center Chamber Music Series on Long Island. Collaborative performances include a recital with clarinetist David Shifrin at Rockford’s Coronado Theatre and a special program with the renowned dance company BodyVox in Portland, Oregon. This fall, the ASQ’s first CD will be released by the UK-based label Nimbus, including quartets by Grieg, Janacek and Wolf.
Internationally, the Amphion Quartet has performed in South Korea at the Music Isle Festival in Jeju and at the Seoul Arts Center. Previous U.S. festival appearances include The Chautauqua Institution, OK Mozart, Chamber Music Northwest, La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest, New Jersey’s Mostly Music Series, NYU String Quartet Workshop, Princeton Summer Concerts, Cooperstown Chamber Music Festival, and Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival. The ASQ has collaborated with such eminent artists as the Tokyo String Quartet, Ani Kavafian, David Shifrin, Carter Brey, Edgar Meyer, Michala Petri, James Dunham, and Deborah Hoffmann.
Recent featured concerts include the Amphion Quartet’s Carnegie Hall debut at Weill Recital Hall on the CAG series with guest David Shifrin, and also Zankel Hall; the Library of Congress and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.; Caramoor Center for the Arts; Pepperdine University; TCAN Center for the Arts (Mass.); New York’s Met Museum and National Arts Club;, and a tour of Northern California. The ASQ has been showcased on New York’s WQXR radio frequently, including the station’s November 2012 Beethoven String Quartet Marathon.
Erin Keefe, violin
Concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra, violinist Erin Keefe was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2006. She was also the Grand Prize winner in the Valsesia Musica, Torun, Schadt and Corpus Christi international violin competitions, and was the Silver Medalist in the Carl Nielsen, Sendai, and Gyeongnam competitions.
Ms. Keefe has appeared in recent seasons as soloist with orchestras such as the Minnesota Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony, the New York City Ballet Orchestra, the Korean Symphony Orchestra, the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, the Sendai Philharmonic and the Gottingen Symphony and has given recitals throughout the United States, Austria, Italy, Germany, Korea, Poland, Japan and Denmark. She has collaborated with artists such as the Emerson String Quartet, Roberto and Andrés Díaz, Edgar Meyer, Gary Hoffman, Richard Goode, Menahem Pressler, and Leon Fleisher, and she has recorded for Naxos, Onyx, the CMS Studio Recordings label, and Deutsche Grammophon. She has made festival appearances with Music@Menlo, the Marlboro Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, Ravinia, and the Seattle, OK Mozart, Mimir, Bravo! Vail Valley, Music in the Vineyards and Bridgehampton chamber music festivals. Ms. Keefe performs regularly with the Brooklyn and Boston Chamber Music Societies and is an Artist at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Former Congressman turned novelist, Bob Steele, will address one of Connecticut’s hot-button issues — how we became New England’s Gambling State — when he comes to Chester at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 11, for Books & Bagels at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (CBSRZ).
Steele, who served one term in the House of Representatives and also ran for Governor, will speak about Connecticut’s casinos and the background to his book, The Curse: Big-Time Gambling’s Seduction of a Small New England Town (Levellers Press).
“The casinos are places of fascination and mystery,” says Tracy Kleinberg, chair of the CBSRZ program committee, which produces Books & Bagels. “Bob’s book provides an illuminating view of both the glitz and the unsavory side of casino life.”
The novel, which has just gone into its second printing, is set against the explosion of casino gambling in Connecticut during the 1990s, when two Indian tribes built the world’s two biggest casinos in the southeastern corner of the state.
The narrative begins in 1637 with the massacre of the Pequot Indians and a curse delivered by a Pequot sachem to the young English soldier who is about to kill him. The story then jumps 350 years as the soldier’s 13th generation descendant, Josh Williams, and his family become embroiled in a battle to stop a third casino that threatens their town and ancestral home.
WBZ Boston’s Dan Rea calls the novel “powerful” and Connecticut author Martin Shapiro describes it as “compelling and timely…a riveting story of history, money and politics that will make you wonder where America is headed.”
Bob Steele is chairman of Connecticut-based NLC Insurance Company and has been a director of numerous other companies, including the American Stock Exchange.
This program is free and open to the public and reservations are not necessary. Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek is located at 55 East Kings Highway in Chester. For more information on this event or other CBSRZ programming, contact the synagogue office 860-526-8920 or visit the www.cbsrz.org.
CHESTER — Middlesex County residents are encouraged to end the year on a high note by donating blood. An American Red Cross blood drive will be held in honor of Colleen Kelly Alexander on Wednesday, Dec. 31 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pursuit Athletic Performance, 8 Inspiration Ln., in Chester. Alexander will be sharing her inspirational story at 11 a.m. during the drive.
In 2011, while on a routine bike ride, she was run over by a freight truck. During the fight for her life, she needed to be resuscitated twice, needed more than 78 blood products and was in a coma for five weeks. Miraculously, Alexander survived the trauma and has gone on to run more than 50 races and compete in 15 triathlons, including four half Ironman events. Since her experience, she has become a proud supporter of the Red Cross and works tirelessly to promote the need for blood and platelet donations.
“I am here today because time and time again, heroes have rolled up their sleeves to help save a life,” said Alexander. “I may never know those who had a hand in helping save my life, but what I do know is that I can give back by raising awareness about the need for blood and platelet donations and encouraging eligible donors to give back to their communities through blood donation.”
Busy holiday schedules and seasonal illnesses, like the flu, can often mean fewer donors giving blood this time of year. “Patients, like Colleen, don’t get a holiday from needing blood or platelets,” said Stefanie Arcangelo, external communications manager, Red Cross Connecticut Blood Services Region. “As the New Year approaches, the Red Cross encourages individuals to make a meaningful resolution. Resolve to give blood or platelets now and throughout the year.”
Alexander is scheduled to undergo another surgery at the beginning of January as part of her continued recovery and blood products may be needed. She hopes this blood drive will help to ensure blood is available to patients like her, whenever and wherever it is needed.
How to donate blood
Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
Essex Garden Club members collected non perishable food items for the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP) at the club’s annual festivities at Essex Meadows. Individual members and the club also donated $1,510 to the SSKP, which will be matched by the Gowrie Challenge.
CHESTER— Wasting no time after receiving a $1 million state grant with a three-year timeline, members of the library board of trustees advised the board of selectmen Tuesday of plans to seek a town funding appropriation to prepare engineering design plans for a proposed new library at North Quarter Park.
Trustee Terry Schreiber said the group, working with a volunteer building committee, would have a specific total for the funding request at the board’s next meeting on Jan. 6. Any appropriation of town funds, which is expected to be in the range of $100,000, would also require approval from the board of finance and voters at a town meeting. The appropriation would pay for preparation of a site plan and schematic design plans for a new library building at the park.
Schreiber said the trustees have also met with a professional fundraiser to discuss options for a fundraising campaign for a library building project that could cost as much as $4 to $5 million to complete, with the state grant covering only a portion of the total cost. An authorization of town bonding would also be needed to pay for the project
The building committee was established by the selectmen last summer as part of an effort to complete the state grant application by an end of August deadline. The committee, with support from the selectmen, hired Lerners, Lads, & Bartells Architects, a Pawtucket, R. I. firm that has experience with library construction projects.
As part of information required for the grant application, the architects prepared very preliminary plans for a two-story 5,600-square-foot library building that would be located in the front section of the 22-acre park on the east end of Main Street. The $1 million grant was approved by the State Library Board last month
Schreiber said the trustees and building committee have made no final decisions on the size of a new library, whether it should have one or two floors, or whether a community center component should be included in the project. The trustees are planning a public information meeting on the project for Saturday Jan. 10 at the library.
The trustees had spent nearly two years considering options for a renovation and expansion of the 108 year-old existing library building on West Main Street before deciding earlier this year, with encouragement from the selectmen, to focus on the option of a building a new library at North Quarter Park.
State Senator Art Linares (Rep. Westbrook) has collected over 800 signatures from local residents protesting Connecticut Light & Power plans to adopt a rate hike. According to the Senator at its December 17 meeting, the state’s Public Utilities Commission, “is expected to finalize a $7.12 increase in the average monthly bill that Connecticut Light & Power sends out to its residential customers.”
“The $7.12 rate would come on top of a Jan. 1 increase of $18.48, on average, for CL&P residential customers,” Linares said.
Linares continued, “As a state senator, I represent 100,000 people in a region that stretches along the Connecticut River Valley from Portland south to Old Saybrook and Lyme. Hundreds of Connecticut rate payers have signed this petition because they want state regulators to deny CL&P’s proposed service rate hike. We can’t afford more and more and hikes.”
“Regardless of whether rates are hiked on Wednesday, December 17, Sen. Linares urged residents to continue to email state regulators at: PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov to express their concerns about rising costs,” Linares said in a press statement.
Senator Linares also urged residents to sign his online petition at www.senatorlinares.com in opposition to Connecticut Light & Power proposed rate hike, regardless of the Commission’s actions on December 17.
Chinese president Xi Jiping , wearing oversize headphones, appeared on the cover of the French weekly Nouvel Obs on Dec. 4. “Are they spying on us?” asked the magazine.
The same week, huge parabolic antennae showed up on the roof of an inconspicuous building four miles from Paris.
Some people found the picture rather amusing and did not take this disclosure too seriously. But not everybody. In fact, the way China is making inroads into the French economy is somewhat disturbing for many.
This week, the International Monetary Fund announced that China surpassed the US as the largest economy in the world. The sheer size of this sub-continent, which represents over one fifth of the world population, is rather frightening for a small country like France. The economic strategy of China starts with the creation of partnerships with foreign companies, then a growing participation in their capital, and finally their acquisition. It is by absorbing the ideas, the know-how and the technology of older countries, that China was able to race to the number one slot. French officials and heads of private companies facilitate China’s grand design.
Economic relationships between the two countries have existed for years, but what is new is its accelerating pace. In 2007, China had no high-speed trains. Then it turned to France (Alstom), Germany (Siemens) and Japan ( Shinkansen) to obtain the transfer of their technologies. Today China has the longest fast train network in the world.
In 1992, Donfeng Motor Corporation and Peugeot-Citroen, the leading carmaker in France entered in a joint venture and started manufacturing cars in China.
In March 2014, China Donfeng became an equal share holder of Peugeot-Citroen, thereby bringing to an end the 200-year-old family dynasty.
France sold the idea of Club Med and the Shanghai-based Fosun company is currently fighting to win a bid for its acquisition.
For the French, it feels like selling the family jewels when they see their prestigious wines of Bordeaux or Burgundy, along with their chateaux, being bought by the Chinese.
But the most unsettling development so far just took place on Dec. 4. Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, signed an agreement with a Chinese consortium granting it 49.99 percent of the capital of the Toulouse airport.
It is a disastrous business move by the French government. Toulouse is the country’s fourth largest airport. Extensive work has just been completed at a high cost. The airport has been a money-making undertaking, so why sell it for a dismal 308 million – the price of one Airbus?
The answer is simple: France is under extraordinary pressure from Brussels to lower its deficit. It needs money.
The new giant facility will handle 20 million passengers a year, multiplying by five the number of Chinese tourists visiting France, with direct flights to several Chinese provinces. Anybody, who has ever been to the “pink city” (pink is the color of the stone) on the banks of the Garonne with its quaint historical districts, will feel shocked by this decision.
Besides, Toulouse is the European capital of aeronautics as well as an important center of nuclear and spatial research. A large Chinese presence in the neighborhood understandably makes some people nervous.
About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.
ESSEX— Voters Monday authorized up to 8.085 million in municipal bonding, approving five separate ballot questions in a low turnout referendum. A total of 257 of the town’s 4,654 registered voters turned out for the 14-hour referendum, along with two property owners who are not registered voters in Essex.
An authorization of $2,845,000 to replace the Walnut and Ivory street bridges in the Ivoryton section had the widest margin of approval, 221-38. A combination of federal and state funds will reimburse 80 percent of the cost of the Walnut Street bridge project, while the much smaller Ivory Street bridge will be paid for entirely by town bond funds.
A $2,815,000 bonding authorization for improvements at Essex Elementary School was approved on a 193-64 vote. The improvements include replacement of the school roof, which will be eligible for partial state funding reimbursement, along with $600,000 for air conditioning at the 61 year-old school.
Improvements to the town hall, including renovations to the land use offices, at an estimated cost of $1.3 million won approval of a 175-81 vote. Improvements at the town public works garage, with an estimated cost of $525,000, won approval of a 178-80 vote. Voters authorized bonding of $600,000 to purchase a new fire truck on a 186-71 vote.
First Selectman Norman Needleman said he is pleased the capital projects initiative won voter approval. ” Thanks to everyone that came out and voted and thanks to the committee that did all of the hard work,” he said.
The capital projects plan was developed over the past year by a building committee chaired by Selectman Bruce Glowac. The first bonds are expected to be issued by 2017 for a pay off over 20 years ending in 2037.
ESSEX – When Simply Sharing President and Founder Alison Brinkmann decided to dedicate her time to a good cause and create an organization that would have a meaningful and lasting impact, she had no idea where that decision would take her. She did know that she wanted to create a collaborative effort, one with a simple, single mission. Through her involvement with the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Brinkmann saw the potential to help homeless individuals and families in local communities by building a network of shared services and resources. After numerous discussions with leaders from area organizations and agencies, it was evident that there was a great need to secure furnishings and household items for those transitioning from shelters to sustainable and supportive housing. So with a leg up from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, who provided fiscal oversight and funding, the Essex resident launched Simply Sharing in April 2012 and has been on the move ever since.
“When someone first moves out of a shelter, the money they’re earning usually doesn’t go very far, and many can’t afford furnishings,” explained Brinkmann, “ A kitchen table and chairs, beds and sheets, pots, pans and dishes – these are basic household goods many of us take for granted. Yet for individuals and families who have been homeless, these basic necessities are, indeed, luxuries.”
While the concept of collecting donated items for redistribution is not a new one, Simply Sharing takes a more collaborative, personal partner approach on both ends of the process. The all-volunteer, non-profit organization welcomes material and financial donations from individuals and businesses and then works solely through other qualified non-profit agencies and organizations to identify clients that are in the most need of those donations. In addition to the furnishings and funds given by residents throughout Middlesex County, ongoing relationships with Bob’s Discount Furniture, Essex Meadows, Gather, and Realty 3 CT have built a solid foundation of additional resources. Working with Columbus House, Gilead Community Services, The Connection, Inc, Middlesex Hospital and Central Connecticut State University, Simply Sharing has helped well over 50 families get a fresh start in a new home.
That help comes in the well-orchestrated form of Brinkmann and other Simply Sharing volunteers making house calls to pick up donations or receiving them at their warehouse space in Essex, cleaning, selecting and organizing goods for the specific needs of identified families, and then delivering and “setting up” the items in the new living space. “It’s the most gratifying part of our work,” added Brinkmann, “ To be able to meet the people you are helping and see their reaction and appreciation for all the good that’s being given to them – it’s hard to keep a dry eye.”
Congratulations to coach Tim King and his Warriors on an incredible win!
New Britain – Quarterback Chris Jean-Pierre’s four-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining rallied top-seeded Valley Regional/Old Lyme to a 21-20 victory over No. 2 Ansonia in their Class S-Large state championship football game at Willow Brook Park on Saturday morning. Click here to read the remainder of this full initial report of the game by Ned Griffin, which was published in The Day yesterday