Friday, October 31, 2014

I will enjoy being "Master" of this "Ceremony" - Brockton Symphony

When James M. Orent says of Bruch’s Symphony No. 3 in E Major, “It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard, and I’ve been involved with music my entire lifetime,” you get a sense of how wonderful will be this Sunday's concert. This begins my seventh season as Announcer/Master of Ceremonies ("Voice of the Symphony") and also my tenth year of writing, narrating and producing radio commercials for the magnificent Brockton Symphony Orchestra. Thanks to the Enterprise of Brockton for publishing this interview. Note: The two images below are from the Brockton Symphony's web site and were not included in the article.

Brockton Symphony Orchestra to open 67th season Sunday

By Nicole Fleming
The Enterprise
Posted Oct. 31, 2014 @ 2:34 am
Updated Oct 31, 2014 at 2:41 AM

BROCKTON – The Brockton Symphony Orchestra will begin its 67th season Sunday with a performance at Oliver Ames High School in Easton. The show, which will follow the season’s theme of “The Voyage Home,” will start at 3 p.m. and include music from Germany, Scandinavia and the British Isles. The concert starts at 3 p.m.

Called “Rhine Journey,” the show is the first of the season’s five concerts and will showcase four works: “Oberon Overture” by Carl Maria von Weber, “Kol Nedrei” by Max Bruch, “Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major” by Joseph Haydn, and after an intermission, “Symphony No. 3 in E Major’” by Max Bruch. The evening will also feature cellist David Shin, a Yale University student and 2012 Feinberg Competition finalist.

James M. Orent, the Brockton Symphony’s music director, will be the conductor for the first concert. Orent also works as a conductor and violinist for the Boston Pops and has a parallel career in aviation. In addition to well-known pieces from the orchestral repertoire, the Brockton Symphony is able to showcase lesser-known pieces that equally deserve attention but have fallen off the classical music radar, Orent says. In this vein, he is especially excited for the Sunday’s final work, Bruch’s “Symphony No. 3 in E Major.”

Orent only knows of the hidden gem because he was poring over catalogues for works that would fit with the concert’s “Rhine Journey” theme. He described the symphony as “magical,” and was taken by the piece’s second movement. “It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard, and I’ve been involved with music my entire lifetime,” says Orent.
He polled his colleagues at the Brockton Symphony and the Boston Pops. Not one of them knew the piece.

But there’s really no rhyme or reason for why fantastic works aren’t played anymore, Orent says. “Things move in cycles in symphonies, just like everything else.” The 66-year-old Brockton symphony features local professional musicians who perform several shows each year, usually at local schools. The symphony’s second performance will be a “Holiday Pops” concert Dec. 7 at West Middle School in Brockton.

Tickets for the Nov. 2 concert are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. Because ticket sales cover only 20 percent of the concert expenses, donations are also welcome.
To purchase tickets or make a tax-deductible donation, please visit:

Brockton Symphony Orchestra schedule
Nov. 2: “Rhine Journey”
Dec. 7: “Holiday Pops!”
Jan. 25, 2015: “Chamber Music Concert”
March 1, 2015: Viva “Scandinavia!”
May 3, 2015: “Rule Britannia”
All shows start at 3 p.m.

Author kicks me in the stomach - and I love it!

A Stolen Season (Alex McKnight, #7)A Stolen Season by Steve Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While reading this I wrote in my Journal, "“I last cried reading a novel, when people (to me they become people – not just characters) get hurt or die in a well-written, moving story.” I was too stunned to cry for A Stolen Season - I doubled over. Author Steve Hamilton kicked me in the stomach so hard that when I was reading the following entry in the series (Misery Bay) I was sure the tragedy had been haunting McKnight for at least two earlier books, not just through this one. As always, I felt like some addict, craving my next fix (the next book in the series) as soon as I finished this one.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Friends of Oxford Library Turkey Buffet: Good Cause/Great Food

Oxford Library Turkey Buffet at Publick House November 3rd.
Oxford, Massachusetts – October 17, 2014 – The Friends of the Oxford Free Public Library invite you to join them for an All-You-Can-Eat Traditional Turkey Buffet at the Historic Publick House Restaurant in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, on Monday, November 3, 2014. There are two seatings for this delectable event, at 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm.
The Publick House, at 277 Main Street, Sturbridge, Massachusetts features historic ambience, traditional New England-style dining and true Yankee hospitality. Whether you are a library lover, a book lover, a food lover, or any combination of the three, you will be delighted with your turkey dinner. This is an event past attendees look forward to.
Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available for purchase at the Oxford Free Public Library, 339 Main Street, Oxford, Massachusetts, 01540. The Library is open Monday 9:30-5:00, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9:30-8:00, Friday 9:30-5:00 and Saturday 9:30-4:00.
Adult tickets are $13.00. Tickets for children ages 4-13 are $5.00. Proceeds benefit the Friends of the Oxford Free Public Library.
The Oxford Free Public Library is a member of the C/W MARS network and is open to all residents of Massachusetts. The Friends of the Library are volunteers who support the Library with fundraising and promotional activities. Hours and library news can be found at
Harry R. Williams III
15 Daniel Drive
North Oxford, MA 01537
(508) 208-0539


Friday, October 10, 2014

Authors' homes are not as treasured as Graceland.

With all due respect to Elvis fans, I am saddened to learn in the Boston Globe article below that writer's homes are not so treasured. Broker Jane Darrach, trying to sell J. D. Salinger's home, said “I don’t see [literary fame] carrying it over... writers’ admirers aren’t generally 'as demented' as fans obsessed with pop stars."

A famous writer slept here, but do house buyers care?
By Beth Teitell | GLOBE STAFF OCTOBER 10, 2014

The broker selling T.S. Eliot’s house in Gloucester — yes, that T.S. Eliot — was almost ready to fold up her “open house” sign when Ed Hanson, a retired artist, ambled into the grand foyer. “I was going to go to the beach,” Hanson said — it was a hot Sunday in September — “but it’s crazy crowded. So I came here.”

caption: Some potential buyers who visited this 15-room house in Gloucester where a young T.S. Eliot spent his summers were unimpressed by its literary connection.

The broker selling T.S. Eliot’s house in Gloucester — yes, that T.S. Eliot — was almost ready to fold up her “open house” sign when Ed Hanson, a retired artist, ambled into the grand foyer. “I was going to go to the beach,” Hanson said — it was a hot Sunday in September — “but it’s crazy crowded. So I came here.”

Hanson cheerfully admitted he had no plans to acquire the $1.349 million, 15-room Dutch Colonial where Eliot summered as a boy, but he took a tour anyway, and hoped the prestige would rub off. “Maybe I’ll pretend I’m T.S. Eliot,” he said, striking a writerly pose.

With all its famous-writers-house museums New England makes for a great literary tourism vacation. But right now, the homes of three beloved literary figures are listed not in travel guides, but rather in the realtor’s bible, MLS.

caption: Author Judy Blume’s Martha’s Vineyard home has been on the market for nearly two years.

Along with Eliot’s home — whose owner just accepted an offer — the house J.D. Salinger escaped to from Manhattan, on a bucolic, unpaved road in Cornish, N.H., is on the market for $679,000. On Martha’s Vineyard, part of Judy Blume’s two-parcel waterfront estate — asking price $4.75 million — just went under agreement.

The confluence of literature and listings raises a question: What does a literary reputation do for the value of a house?

Not much, according to local brokers. Although news that Salinger’s house is for sale has gone global, the listing broker, Jane Darrach, said that the words written by an unknown wordsmith trump best-seller status: “Location, location, location.”

caption: Second-floor bathroom at T.S. Eliot's childhood home.

Indeed, Blume’s house has been on the market for nearly two years. In Provincetown, Norman Mailer’s waterfront home just sold this past July, for $3.1 million; it lingered for a year after an initial sale fell through. Art Buchwald’s 4,200-square foot place in Martha’s Vineyard spent nearly three years on the market before it sold in January 2013, for $1.395 million.

“I don’t see [literary fame] carrying it over unless you get someone who is an incredible nut,” Darrach said, noting that writers’ admirers aren’t generally “as demented” as fans obsessed with pop stars.

[Inset box] ‘I wasn’t aware how big he was. But I realized I better start brushing up.’ Dana Hawkes, who has owned the T.S. Eliot house since 1998

And yet . . . if the seller is willing to name drop (not all are, the broker selling John Updike’s Beverly Farms house, following his death, in 2009, had to sign a confidentiality agreement), brokers say it can’t hurt.

caption: A childhood photo of T.S. Eliot.

At the Eliot open house in late September, on the dining room table, the poet and playwright’s bio was displayed next to the information sheet about the water and sewer systems.

“Here he is as a young boy,” the listing broker, Gretchen Parker, said to a prospective buyer, pointing to a photograph in a book that had been left open to just the right page.

Some prospective buyers at the open house didn’t care who had slept there. “Didn’t he die about 50 years ago?” one shopper said dismissively (yes). But for others, the literary connection is a lure.

Caption: The former home of J.D. Salinger in Cornish, N.H.

Some prospective buyers at the open house didn’t care who had slept there. “Didn’t he die about 50 years ago?” one shopper said dismissively (yes). But for others, the literary connection is a lure.

Michael Litel, of Boston, said he readied for his visit by listening to his wife read Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (“In the room the women come and go/Talking of Michelangelo”) and parts of “The Waste Land” (“I will show you fear in a handful of dust”).

“The idea that [Eliot] lived in this house is exciting,” Litel said.

Caption: J.D. Salinger.

Many people feel that way but the question is, why? Because they hope it will rub off on them, said Brock Clarke, the author of “An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England.”

“They have this notion that this is where genius happens, and if they sit in that room maybe they’ll write ‘Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing’ ”—one of Blume’s most famous books—“or ‘The Waste Land.’ These rooms become magic, but they buy the house and they sit in the room and find themselves not any less dull than they were.”

But locally, those who’ve bought houses with a famous connection say it was a bonus, not the driving force.

Dana Hawkes, the owner of Eliot’s house since 1998, is an accidental docent.

About a month after she and her late husband moved in, the T.S. Eliot Society called asking if members could gather there during a Gloucester meeting. “About 100 people arrived,” Hawkes said. “They came from Europe and Japan, and they all had books of poetry with them.”

At that point, Hawkes, an animation art consultant with Bonhams, a British auction house, wasn’t very familiar with Eliot’s work. “I wasn’t aware how big he was,” she said. “But I realized I better start brushing up.’’

When Joan Littlefield and her late husband bought Salinger’s cottage, in 1983, she hadn’t yet read “The Catcher in the Rye,” the book that brought him the fame he was trying to escape.

After moving in, Littlefield stayed up all night reading it, and quickly came to feel protective of Salinger, who had moved to a house a very short stroll away after he and his wife second wife, Claire, divorced, in 1967.

Littlefield, it should be noted, lived the dream of every person who thinks it would be cool to live in an author’s house: in a crawl space, she found some of Salinger’s papers — some homeopathic recipes and an account book.

Meanwhile, Darrach, the broker, said that while buyers might be excited by the literary connection, sellers are looking to recoup an investment.

“We’ve had several people to see the house and wonder if the owner might sell it [for below asking] so they can turn it into a Salinger retreat or a museum,” she said.

Writer’s house or not, she said, “I’m not in the business of fairy tales.”

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fiction with a believable - and bleeding - hero!

Blood is the Sky (Alex McKnight, #5)Blood is the Sky by Steve Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another gripping adventure. Another chance for series hero Alex McKnight to test the limits of human recuperation and recovery.
This is a hero who suffers without the assurance of survival. He tells you how badly he is hurt, but never says "It's not supposed to be this way."
Bill Belichick says "It is what it is." Alex McKnight says "Pain is not as important as justice." Justice for him is not revenge but rather setting things right when possible, especially when it comes to his friends.
We should all have a friend like Alex McKnight! Thank you Steve Hamilton for sharing him with us.

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