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
ESU Spring Meetings 2023
May 13 Meeting
The May meeting was a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Syracuse Branch of the ESU, complete with a cake and champagne toasts to our 75 years, to the office of the President of the United States, and to King Charles III.
Our speaker, introduced by member Judy Carpenter, was Christian Capocaccia, Artistic Director of the Syracuse Opera Company. Maestro Capocaccia, born in Rome, studied at its Conservatorio Santa Cecelia and in the U.S. at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. He is renowned all over the US and Europe and has been recognized by the New York Times for his energy and musical expertise. He explained the nuances of directing an opera versus directing a symphony orchestra, and he shared that his favorite opera is Tristan and Isolde. We are glad that he and his family have made Syracuse his home.
April 8 Meeting
When our April speaker was unable to make the meeting, our inimitable and quick-thinking Dori Parker saved the day by introducing each member present and asking each one to say a few words. We all contributed and ended up with an interesting, sometimes humorous, often informative, and thoroughly unique April meeting. Pictured below are our "speaker" members preparing their extemporaneous remarks.
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Upcoming Programs, Spring 2023
Our 75th Year Celebration
Conducting Speaker: Christian Capocaccia, Artistic Director, Syracuse Opera Company and Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton
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ESU Winter Meetings 2023
March 11 Meeting
Member JoAnn Wallace introduced our speaker Les Rose, Professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism at SU's Newhouse School, whose presentation was entitled "Behind the Lens." Professor Rose was a photojournalist for CBS News and covered many major events such as 9/11 in Shanksville PA, civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador, the LA Riots, and numerous worldwide disasters and events along with major sports events, celebrity interviews, and many more assignments, earning several awards along the way. He entertained and delighted our members with stories both humorous and serious about his 30 years in news broadcasting.
February 11 Meeting
February's topic was Celebrating Shakespeare with speaker Matt Phillips, Shakespeare Competition Advisor, Jamesville-Dewitt High School. Mr. Phillips has long been active as an advisor in the annual high school Shakespeare Competition, along with teaching courses in English, drama, film, journalism, creative writing, and Syracuse University's Project Advance.
Mr. Phillps, introduced by Syracuse ESU's Shakespeare Competition co-chair Barbara Weller, demonstrated that a cold reading of a Shakespearean play is not the most effective way to improve student understanding of Shakespearean language. To illustrate this, he distributed copies of a brief scene from Much Ado About Nothing for an oral reading. Then he showed videos of five diverse interpretations of that same scene by separate professional actors. Those videos clearly improved our understanding of the wordplay between Beatrice and Benedict. At the conclusion of the presentation, everyone had a much clearer grasp of the relationship between the characters in that scene. (Thank you to ESU member Judy Carpenter for her photos and description of Mr. Phillips' demonstration).
We were also treated to a presentation of a monologue by Anka Chiorini, the 2021 and 2022 Syracuse Branch Regional winner and a finalist in the National Competition in New York City.
January 14 Meeting
In January we were fortunate to host Shane Mahar from the NYS Canal Corporation. He was joined by Joell Murney-Karsten who deals with community and government relations through the Canal Corporation's Syracuse Regional Office Mr. Mahar spoke on New York's Canal System, informing us that "the New York State Canal Corporation operates and maintains four historic canals: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga – Seneca. Spanning 524 miles, the waterways link the Hudson River with the Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes and Lake Champlain, and connect hundreds of unique and historic communities across upstate New York." Attendees also learned about the Empire State Trail's Reimagine the Canals initiative and the free "On the Canals" excursions that attract thousands of people to the canal corridor each year. Pictured are Mahar, ESU member Shirley Cruikshank who introduced the presenters, and Murney-Karsten.
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ESU December 2022 Meeting
December 2022 Meeting
A record number of attendees enjoyed our December luncheon and meeting. We were fortunate to have four members of the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble as our guests. Director J.T. (James) Spencer gave an informative introduction about brass bands in general and the SU Brass Ensemble in particular.
We learned that brass bands came into popularity in the United States after the Civil War, and any town of importance had its own band. Dr. Spencer, a chemistry professor at SU, explained not only the history of the bands but the science of brass instruments.
SU's ensemble consists of 35 members who are faculty, staff, and students at the University, along with Upstate Medical Center, and other musicians from Upstate New York.
We were treated to a holiday performance that included Dr. Spencer, along with Gary LaPointe, Professor of Supply Chain Practice; William Abdullah, SU graduate and area pharmacist; and Dickson Rothwell. A particular crowd-pleaser was a rendition of "Jingle Bells," with an added section written specifically for tuba.
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November 12th ESU Meeting
"Wonderful" was the word used to describe Gareth Fisher's talk at the Syracuse Branch's November luncheon meeting, especially among those who had visited or even lived in China for some time.
Fisher was introduced to the attendees by member Dorianne Parker.
Fisher, an Associate Professor in the Religion Department at Syracuse University, has closely tracked the growing interest in Buddhism since the repressive Communist regime which has made it the largest officially recognized religion in China today.
Fisher's audience obviously appreciated his firsthand reporting of practices in China today, those officially allowed as well as those conducted by lay practitioners without the State's sanction.
In response to questions, Fisher also updated the situation in Tibet, especially for those who had met the Dalai Lama.
Fisher co-edited "Buddhism After Mao: Negotiations, Continuities and Reinventions" and is currently working on another book.
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