December 18, 2018

Archives for December 2018

Holiday Boutique Today Benefits Tri-Town Youth Services, Other Local Youth Organizations

Wrap up your gift shopping at the Holiday Boutique on Wednesday! Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

AREAWIDE — A Holiday Boutique will be held  Wednesday, Dec. 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Old Lyme Country Club, 40 McCurdy Rd., Old Lyme.  It is is open and free to all community members.

The event will benefit Tri-Town Youth Service Bureau, Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau, and Old Saybrook Youth & Family Services.

The Holiday Boutique features 18 vendors from Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Florida, and has something for everyone on your list. Items for sale will include jewelry, gifts, hand bags, scarves, soaps, ties, florals and so much more.

The high-end vendors include:

  • CatchAll from Westport
  • Pinky’s from Greenwich
  • The Calvert Collection
  • Nat Fry Woodworking from Haverford, PA
  • Old Lyme’s Allie Fiscus
  • Three Islands from Westerly
  • Lowebows Bowties
  • Patrice Collection from Darien
  • Stix & Stones from Hartford
  • Carlisle clothing and Mali jewelry from New York
  • The Patrice Collection from Darien
  • Katherine Clarkson Studio
  • Tucci Designs from Stonington
  • Savor and Cortland Park from Essex
  • Maggie Lee Designs from Lancaster, PA
  • Cynthia Slack Designs from Bonita Springs, FL
  • Farm to Bath from Thompson
  • Alka’s Indian gifts
  • Make-up demonstrations by Clippers of Guilford.

A luncheon buffet will be available $18.

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SECWAC Hosts Local Independent Expert Tonight, Presents “Cuba, the Conflicted Isle”

Rob Hernandez will give a presentation on Cuba at the next SECWAC meeting.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts Rob Hernandez to speak on ‘Cuba, the Conflicted Isle: can it reconcile its past while creating a new future?’ at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Old Lyme Country Club, 40 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme, CT.

Hernandez, an international business consultant and lecturer on global issues for the National Geographic, universities and corporations, will discuss the current status of Cuba in the context of its historical relationship with the United States. Specifically, he will recount the long and often tortured history of U.S.-Cuba relations, describe the reality on the ground today, and discuss possible solutions to the five decades of seemingly irreconcilable differences between the two neighbors.

Born in the U.S. but raised in Spain and Cuba—and Essex, Hernandez has worked extensively around the world for more than 40 years. An ecologist by education, he spent his early career doing field research and documenting through film and photography many of the world’s more remote places, work that has appeared in many leading global publications.

As part of those endeavors, he spent a year in Africa filming a television special on lions and, in his early twenties, spent two years circumnavigating the Pacific and Indian Oceans in a 29 ft. sailboat.  Since then he has continued to lead numerous expeditions to Africa, the Arctic and Antarctic, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and South America, among others.

This led to a 30-year career at the National Geographic Society (NGS) where he served in numerous capacities, including senior editor of the National Geographic magazine, head of Strategic Planning, and later as Senior Vice President, founder and head of the Society’s International Publishing Division.  In that role, he established NGS offices in more than 35 countries and published books, magazines, maps, DVDs, websites and a broad range of other digital media in over 40 languages.  Totally committed to NGS’s non-profit missions, he was also heavily involved in the scientific, educational, and conservation initiatives of the organization.

Most recently, he completed his career at the Walt Disney Co. where he ran Disney’s Magazine Publishing Worldwide Co. producing more than 400 local-language magazine titles and other publications for sale throughout the globe.

Now semi-retired, he lives in Essex and works as an international business consultant and lecturer on global issues for the National Geographic, universities, and corporations. He has traveled to Cuba often in the last three decades and looks forward to sharing with his insights about this enigmatic island.

Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC meeting attendees have the option for $35 to attend a dinner with the speaker at the Old Lyme Country Club. Dinner reservations are required by Thursday, Dec. 6, at 860-912-5718.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the main event beginning at 6 p.m. The presentation is a part of the SECWAC 2018-2019 Speaker Series. For non-members, tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door; ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership. Attendance is free for SECWAC members (and their guests). Membership September 2018 through June 2019 is $75; $25 for young professionals under 35; free for area college and high school students.

SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange eight to 10 Speaker Series meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings range in foreign affairs topics, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.

SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policy makers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at http://secwac.org.

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Essex Garden Club Recognized for Civic Work

Essex Garden Club (EGC) Civic Committee Chairs (past and present) pose holding their civic awards with EGC President Augie Pampel.  From left to right are Janice Strait, Suzanne Tweed, Pampel, Barbara Powers and Liz Fowler.

ESSEX — The Essex Garden Club (EGC) was recently recognized by the Federated Garden Clubs Of Connecticut for its civic work maintaining parks, traffic islands and especially the fundraising used for the planting of trees, shrubs and perennials.

This is part of the ongoing effort of the EGC Civic Team that helps support the mission to create civic beautification in our community and promote educational opportunities for our members and the general public.  

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‘Con Brio’ Presents Second Holiday Concert This Afternoon

AREAWIDE — How do you get into the holiday spirit? Why not ease into the season by experiencing the joy of uplifting seasonal music at a Con Brio Choral Society December concert. The second will be on Sun., Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme. You’ll hear glorious choral music, trumpet fanfares, and even get the chance to sing your favorite carols along with the singers at the concert’s end.

Danielle Munsell Howard, soprano.

Three professional soloists – Danielle Munsell Howard, soprano; Louise Fauteux, soprano; and Allison Messier, mezzo-soprano – will join the 66 voices of Con Brio and the Con Brio Festival Orchestra under the baton of Dr. Stephen Bruce. To open the concert – and herald the holiday season – four trumpets will perform Jan Zelenka’s Fanfares for four trumpets and timpani.

The choral program that follows will feature two baroque pieces performed with soloists and orchestra. The first piece, one new to most, is Czech composer Jan Zelenka’s Te Deum for double chorus. A new edition of this long-lost Baroque masterwork prompted Con Brio to program it. Zelenka knew J.S. Bach and at least once, stayed at Bach’s house in Leipzig, and also knew Telemann and other famous musicians of the time.

The other baroque piece is likely more familiar, the first movement of J.S. Bach’s Cantata 63, Christen ätzet diesen Tag, composed for the First Day of Christmas, 1713.

Soloist Danielle Munsell Howard, soprano, has been praised by Opera News Online for her “bright, pretty timbre and remarkable facility.” She has performed as soloist with the American Bach Soloists, Amherst Early Music Festival, Boulder Bach Festival, the Yale Collegium Soloists, Princeton Pro Musica and a number of contemporary choral and chamber ensembles. Her New York debut singing Melagro in Gluck’s La Corona at Merkin Hall was enthusiastically received, critically acclaimed in the New York Times and recorded live for Albany Records.

Louise Fauteux, soprano

Soloist Louise Fauteux enjoys a diverse career in the arts devoted to education and performance. Her versatility as a soprano includes a performance of Peer Gynt with the New York Philharmonic and actor John De Lancie and a tour of Venice with DiCapo Opera and the Fairfield Chorale. She has also performed as soloist with New Haven Chorale, Concora, the Farmington Valley Chorale, the Connecticut Master Chorale and the Connecticut Chamber Chorus.

Soloist Allison Messier, mezzo-soprano, has performed as an oratorio soloist in numerous major works including the Mozart Requiem with the Clearlakes Chorale in the New Hampshire Lakes Region, the Rachmaninov Vespers with the Boston Russian Choir; Dvorak’s Mass in D and Mass in Time of War with the Bermuda Chamber Choir. Her opera credits include Dido in Dido and Aeneas and La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica with Piccola Opera NH, as well as other works.

As in past years, Con Brio will sing two pieces in the round while the singers are arrayed around the Sanctuary. The first piece is Quem Vidistis Pastores by Richard Dering and the second, Hodie Christus Natus Est by Giovanni Gabrieli. For many regulars, the eight-part early music pieces sung in the round are a highlight of each Con Brio concert.

Allison Messier, mezzo-soprano

Also on the program is Ola Gjeilo’s Serenity (O Magnum Mysterium) and Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, both written for eight parts, Mary Had a Baby, arranged by Craig Courtney, I Saw Three Ships arranged by Mack Wilberg, and Sir Christémas, arranged by William Mathias.

The concerts are on Friday evening, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday afternoon, at 3 p.m. at Christ the King Church at 1 McCurdy Lane, Old Lyme, CT. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased in advance at www.conbrio.org or by calling 860-526-5399.

Con Brio Choral Society is a classical, all-auditioned chorus drawing its 66 singers from 15 towns extending along the Connecticut River from Old Saybrook to Deep River and East Haddam and along the shoreline from Guilford to Mystic.

The group performs with the Con Brio Festival Orchestra and professional soloists under conductor Dr. Stephen Bruce.

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Letter from Paris: Riots Fuel ‘Yellow Vest’ Rebellion Against Macron’s Reforms, Stir Memories of May ’68

Editor’s Note: We are watching events in Paris today with deep dismay. Nicole Logan’s topical column gives her opinion on the background to the tense situation unfolding there.

Nicole Prévost Logan

France is in a tailspin.  

The crisis started with the fury against the seven-cent tax hike on diesel fuel. The movement of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) spread like wildfire through the social networks as they blocked the roads all over France. For three weeks in November, the demonstrators congregated in Paris each Saturday. Their confrontation with the police culminated in scenes of violence, which shocked the world: Place de l’Etoile obliterated by the smoke of tear gas, graffiti desecrating the Arc de Triomphe, and a policeman being attacked near the monument.  

Riots have been occurring in cities all over France but are centered on Paris. File photo by Randy Colas on Unsplash

Since the Champs Elysées and the Place de la Concorde were cordoned off by the police, the casseurs (hooligans) spilled over Avenue Kleber and Avenue de la Grande Armee, where they looted shops and set fire to six buildings. Hundreds were wounded and 412 demonstrators arrested. By the day’s end, a picture of desolation remained with the smoldering remains of 35 cars and streets littered with whatever was used as a projectile by the radicalized mob.

The tension is mounting. The government seems unable to contain it. The gilets jaunes are widening their demands to lower all taxes, raise salaries and retirements as well as the dissolution of the National Assembly. At this point they will not stop short of the resignation of Macron. 

It is an unprecedented, unstructured popular anger directly aimed at the president.  The opposition parties – with much glee – are surfing on this tsunami.

The government is making concessions to meet people’s demands. Unfortunately these concessions always arrive too late. The more the government concedes, the more the gilets jaunes demand, apparently comforted by their success.  On Dec. 4th, Prime Minister Edward Philippe announced a six-month freeze on fuel and utility taxes followed by their cancellation the same evening. And the price tag of this measure? Four billion euros. This was the first admission of defeat by the Macron team – a measure very hard to swallow since it went against its own environmental principles. 

What are the causes of this crisis? Mistakes made by a president attempting to reform the country from the bottom up? Ungovernable French people? Perhaps a combination of both.

During the first 16 months of his mandate, Macron undertook structural reforms  to turn France into a modern and competitive country. These reforms dealt with political institutions, the labor code,  the impressive — but somewhat antiquated — railroad system or  SNCF (Societé Nationale des Chemins de Fer), crowded universities  by abolishing a chaotic and ridiculous entrance selection by lottery. 

But French people do not like changes and are attached to their privileges, tax niches and social benefits acquired over decades. An attempt at reforming the system was bound to face an uphill battle .

All these reforms were part of a general plan — a vision — which the president had placed at the core of his electoral campaign and on the basis of which he had been elected. in 2017. He gave himself five years to achieve his goals. 

Unfortunately for him the people wanted immediate results. He wanted to raise the French economy and society from the bottom up and encourage the active population. This was different from a “trickle down” process, but was not perceived as such by the French.  Soon the label,”President of the Rich,” was firmly attached to him.

Macron’s strategy was to consult with trade unions, elected local officials or business people at the Elysée Palace before making any decisions.

Apparently tetanized by the fast pace of the president’s method, the population seemed at first to accept the reforms. But gradually, overwhelmed by the sheer number of new regulations, taxes, or reforms facing them them every morning, its discontent started as an underground rumble until it finally exploded. The last drop was the additional tax on diesel. 

Overall, the French population is justified in its revolt against an unbearable tax burden. France is the world number one champion of taxes with 48 percent of its Gross Domestic Product coming from tax revenues versus 40 percent in the other European countries and less than 30 percent in the US.  One of the buzz expressions among the gilets jaunes is “ras le bol” (meaning “we are totally fed up.”) There are hundreds of hidden taxes in France. For example, did you know that here, one has to pay a tax on “oiseaux de companie” (pet birds)?

The French have a special craving for social justice as shown in their attitude toward the Impot de Solidarite sur la Fortune (ISF) or wealth tax. Macron had split that tax between property wealth — which he retained — and financial holdings such as stocks. In order to encourage investments — particularly on green energy — he created a “flat tax” of only 30 percent.  What he did was misunderstood by the public opinion and may be scrapped soon.    

Today Macron’s room to maneuver is very small.  Since the opposition has no leader to replace him, where is the country going?  Cohn Bendit, the hero of May 1968, the largest French uprising in the past 50 years, gave a frightening prognosis, “I see the present movement in France as a possibly the first step toward totalitarianism, headed by an illiberal despot.” 

The situation is evolving by the hour.  More demonstrations of force are already planned …

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

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.

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Chester Celebrates ‘First Friday’ Tonight

This painting of Chester’s own ‘Starry Night’ is by Barbara Rossitto.

CHESTER – Tree lighting, carol singing, hot chocolate, cider, wine, homemade cookies, music, art openings, shops in their winter wonderland glory with special gift ideas, tastings and more are all part of the annual Holiday Night/First Friday tonight, Dec. 6, from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Annual Tree Lighting and Lighting of the Menorah will be held at 5:45 p.m. at the flagpole. Then join the Chester Hose Company and Santa on Main Street at 6:30 p.m.  This part of the event is hosted by: The Rotary Club of Chester, The Chester Merchants, The Chester Hose Company, Congregation Beth Shalom, Camp Hazen, Chester Elementary School, The Chester Boy Scouts, The Chester Town Hall and The Guest House

An opening for the annual Postcard Show – dozens and dozens of original works postcard size or smaller – will be at the Chester Gallery.  Champagne by the fire will be served.

New jewelry designs from Dina Varano.

New paintings of the Connecticut River and the artist’s garden will be shown in the Holiday Exhibit at Leif Nilsson’s Gallery. His house band, Arrowhead, will play and photographer Caryn Davis will sign copies of her new book, “A Connecticut Christmas: Celebrating the Holiday in Classic New England Style.”

Dina Varano Gallery will introduce Dina’s annual new collection of jewelry.

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SECSEWAC Hosts Local Independent Expert to Present, “Cuba, the Conflicted Isle,” Tuesday

Rob Hernandez will give a presentation on Cuba at the next SECWAC meeting.

AREAWIDE — The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) hosts Rob Hernandez to speak on ‘Cuba, the Conflicted Isle: can it reconcile its past while creating a new future?’ at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Old Lyme Country Club, 40 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme, CT.

Hernandez, an international business consultant and lecturer on global issues for the National Geographic, universities and corporations, will discuss the current status of Cuba in the context of its historical relationship with the United States. Specifically, he will recount the long and often tortured history of U.S.-Cuba relations, describe the reality on the ground today, and discuss possible solutions to the five decades of seemingly irreconcilable differences between the two neighbors.

Born in the U.S. but raised in Spain and Cuba—and Essex, Hernandez has worked extensively around the world for more than 40 years. An ecologist by education, he spent his early career doing field research and documenting through film and photography many of the world’s more remote places, work that has appeared in many leading global publications.

As part of those endeavors, he spent a year in Africa filming a television special on lions and, in his early twenties, spent two years circumnavigating the Pacific and Indian Oceans in a 29 ft. sailboat.  Since then he has continued to lead numerous expeditions to Africa, the Arctic and Antarctic, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and South America, among others.

This led to a 30-year career at the National Geographic Society (NGS) where he served in numerous capacities, including senior editor of the National Geographic magazine, head of Strategic Planning, and later as Senior Vice President, founder and head of the Society’s International Publishing Division.  In that role, he established NGS offices in more than 35 countries and published books, magazines, maps, DVDs, websites and a broad range of other digital media in over 40 languages.  Totally committed to NGS’s non-profit missions, he was also heavily involved in the scientific, educational, and conservation initiatives of the organization.

Most recently, he completed his career at the Walt Disney Co. where he ran Disney’s Magazine Publishing Worldwide Co. producing more than 400 local-language magazine titles and other publications for sale throughout the globe.

Now semi-retired, he lives in Essex and works as an international business consultant and lecturer on global issues for the National Geographic, universities, and corporations. He has traveled to Cuba often in the last three decades and looks forward to sharing with his insights about this enigmatic island.

Immediately following the presentation, SECWAC meeting attendees have the option for $35 to attend a dinner with the speaker at the Old Lyme Country Club. Dinner reservations are required by Thursday, Dec. 6, at 860-912-5718.

A reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the main event beginning at 6 p.m. The presentation is a part of the SECWAC 2018-2019 Speaker Series. For non-members, tickets ($20) may be purchased at the door; ticket cost can subsequently be applied towards a SECWAC membership. Attendance is free for SECWAC members (and their guests). Membership September 2018 through June 2019 is $75; $25 for young professionals under 35; free for area college and high school students.

SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange eight to 10 Speaker Series meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings range in foreign affairs topics, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.

SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policy makers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations. Learn more at http://secwac.org.

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Puccini, Saint-Saens Featured at Cappella Cantorum Concert This Afternoon

Tenor Brian Cheney will be a soloist in the Dec. 2 Cappella Cantorum concert.

DEEP RIVER — Bring in the spirit of the holiday season by attending Cappella Cantorum’s Christmas Concert Sunday, Dec. 2, 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, One Winthrop Road, Deep River.

Cappella’s Masterworks Chorus will perform Puccini’s “Messa Di Gloria” and Saint-Saens’ “Christmas Oratorio,” two glorious works from the late 1800s.

Featured soloists will be soprano Abigail Paschke, tenor Brian Cheney and baritone Paul Fletcher. Simon Holt will direct the chorus and professional orchestra.

Tickets are $30 purchased in advance, $35 at the door.

Puccini is best known for his later works, the operas “Tosca,” “La Boheme,” “Madama Butterfly” and “Turandot.” His “Messa Di Gloria” was composed earlier but is no less masterful. Saint-Saens is perhaps best known for his opera “Samsun et Dalila” and “The Swan” from his “Carnival of Animals.”

For more information or tickets, visit www.CappellaCantorum.org or call 860-526-1038.

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Musical Masterworks Presents ‘Winterreise’ ConcertThis Afternoon

Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park

AREAWIDE — Musical Masterworks will ring in the winter with the beautiful song cycle by Franz Schubert titled Winterreise — which translates to a winter’s journey – on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2, at 3 p.m.

Baritone, Randall Scarlata and pianist, Jeewon Park will perform this remarkable piece of music.

Join Artistic Director, Edward Arron, one hour before each concert for a pre-concert talk about Schubert’s life and his composition of this masterpiece.

Musical Masterworks’ season runs through May 2019.  Mini subscriptions are available for $100 each or individual tickets are $40 for adults and $5 for students. visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

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