ESU Syracuse Branch
A Message from the Syracuse Branch President
Established in 1948, The Syracuse Branch of the English-Speaking Union is a very active group. Our programs reflect our members who are spirited, thoughtful and concerned about intercultural and international communications. They share a genuine interest in people and community affairs. The Syracuse Branch meets the second Saturday of each month - September through May - at a private club.
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News And Events
The Syracuse Branch of the English-Speaking Union finished its 2021-2022 season with the pleasure of hosting Evelyn Wrench speaker James Stebbings, introduced by chapter president Carl Borning.
James Stebbings with Alice Borning May
Mr. Stebbings spoke on Richard D'Oyly Carte, a theater icon in the late 19th century who established theaters and an opera house in London and was instrumental, along with his family, in promoting the careers of Gilbert and Sullivan. Mr. Stebbing's presentation, "A Very English Dynasty," was informative and entertaining.
May Meeting Subject Robert D'Oyly Carte
Previous to the May meeting, the ESU Syracuse Chapter met regularly this winter and spring with several excellent presentations.
Our December luncheon and meeting featured vocal students from Onondaga Community College and their director Lisa Miller in "OCC Sings for the Holidays" Member Marjorie Julian presented Associate Professor of Music and Sound Recording Coordinator, Lisa Miller.
January brought us George Cunningham who spoke about the life and poetry of Scotland's poet laureate Robert Burns in a program entitled "Celebrating Bobby Burns."
Mr. Cunningham also entertained us with readings of Burns' poetry and with his own performance on the bagpipes. Mr. Cunningham was introduced by member Shirley Cruikshank.
George Cunningham and Shirley Cruikshank
JoAnn Wallace presented our February speaker, Len Fonte, a playwright and theater critic who calls Syracuse home. He spoke on the topic "Shakespeare and the Stage." Mr. Fonte has directed over forty productions and was accepted into the 2010 Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive, a series of rigorous workshops.
Len Fonte and JoAnn Wallace
April brought us music and opera performer Colby Thomas. Ms. Thomas has performed worldwide, starring in several productions, including playing the role of Christine in Hamburg, Germany's, production of "Phantom of the Opera." She is an expert on American Musical Theater and is presently teaching, performing and directing at SUNY at Oneonta. She was introduced by member Alice Borning.
Colby Thomas and Alice Borning, April Meeting
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Fall 2021 Meetings Continue
The Syracuse chapter of the English-Speaking Union continued to meet via Zoom through the pandemic but is now back to in-person meetings (with Covid safety precautions in place) with our traditional excellent luncheons, enjoyable social interactions, interesting conversations, and outstanding speakers.
Our October meeting featured Kathi and Dennis McCarthy, the directors of the St. Lawrence River Historical Foundation, who focused on shipwrecks in the waters of the St. Lawrence River and Alexandria Bay. They also described early underwater diving techniques featuring diving helmets and scuba gear, followed by the newest diving gear which enables divers to descend to 300 feet, 100 feet further than scuba divers. Member JoAnn Wallace (center) introduced them.
ESU member Marjorie Julian introduced our November speaker, Adam Sudmann, the Market Manager at Salt City Market, the new Food Hall and Public Market in downtown Syracuse that opened in January 2021. Mr. Sudmann was inspired by the diversity of people in Syracuse and their food cultures. He has helped new entrepreneurs begin businesses. So far the Salt City Market features food of Pakistan, Burma, Palestine, Vietnam, Somalia, and, closer to home, Savannah, Georgia.
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ProLiteracy Program Lecture
The Syracuse Chapter of the ESU opened its 2021-22 season with its first in-person gathering in over a year. Our speaker was Kevin Morgan, who spoke about adult literacy and the ProLiteracy organization's mission to develop and promote adult literacy learning, content programs, and advocacy.
Mr. Morgan was introduced by ESU member Dr. Kathleen Hinchman, whose 30-year career at Syracuse University focused on childhood and adolescent literacy.
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2021 Syracuse Branch National Shakespeare Competition
Meet our Syracuse branch Shakespeare Competition winner Anka Chiorini...if you can find her under her mask! She's pictured above with our Shakespeare Committee Co-chair Susan Jarosz, her Jamesville-DeWitt High School Principal Paul Gasparini, her teacher Matthew Phillips, and the plaque awarded her by our branch. The plaque now includes her name and that of her school and will hang in the school for the coming year.
This year was her second as a high school student and as a participant in ESU's Shakespeare Competition. Her selections were a monologue by the character Pucelle from Henry VI, Part I, and Sonnet 134. Her performance became especially significant in that her school had never before had a winner who was eligible to compete in the national ESU competition in NYC with students from throughout the country. It was special, too, in that in this virtual world, her presentation was live, thanks to Zoom made possible by our own ESU member Dianne Emmick.
For many students, participating in the Shakespeare Competition would suffice as an extra effort for the year, especially if the year was during a pandemic that brought with it additional pressures and challenges. But Anka goes for more, and this year turned to play-writing for Syracuse Stage's Young Playwrights. The result? Two of her efforts were chosen to be among the eight winners chosen from the 200 total plays submitted! The eight winning plays were performed (via Zoom) by Syracuse University Drama Department students.
And summer vacation? Anka will be involved in a literature course offered by Mount Holyoke College for which she received a scholarship.
(If you wish to view the winning Syracuse Stage plays, you can access them -- if you are a Facebook member -- by Googling "young playwrights 2021 Syracuse Stage").
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ESU Syracuse Branch Annual Meeting
May 8th, 2021 - The Syracuse Chapter has been able to resume in-person meetings following covid protocol. We were happy to have our May annual meeting to enjoy each other's company and to give member approval of our slate of officers and committee chairs for 2021-2022.
We were fortunate to be entertained by Ernest Musquiz of Syracuse Symphoria, who presented his program "Mallet Keyboard Instruments in the Orchestra." Mr. Musquiz joined the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, now "Symphoria," in 1974 and is now in his 47th consecutive year with that organization serving as percussionist and timpanist as well as directing the Youth Orchestra. His mallets fly with fantastic precision when he plays the keyboard instruments.
ESU member Alice Borning with our guest speaker Ernest Musquiz
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