News And Events

News And Events

April and May 2024

The Syracuse branch finished its 2023-2024 season with its April and May meetings. In May Natividad Torrence, accompanied by her son, spoke to the group about MercyWorks, Inc, where she serves as Program Director. MercyWorks' mission is to educate, encourage and empower young people in our underserved communities through a series of innovative classes and hands-on workshops. See a list of their current programs at their website here.

Pictured here are Natividad Torrence and her son, along with E-SU Syracuse Branch Co-President Ann Barker-Griffith.

The May meeting celebrated Mother's Day, spring, and our branch at the traditional "Wear Your Vintage Hat" day. Member Aileen Balitz spoke about her experience as a new member of the Shakespeare Committee and her attendance at the local Shakespeare workshop and competition. Co-President Ann Barker-Griffith gave a presentation on the many purposes and programs of the English-Speaking Union nationally and in various branches across the country. Pictured below are members in their millinery finery.

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Winter/Spring 2024 Meetings

March 11, 2024 Meeting

At our March 11 meeting, Elizabeth Balfour, the Education Coordinator of CNY Lyme & Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, gave her presentation, "Tick Talk."   Member Shirley Cruikshank introduced Ms. Balfour who informed our group about the prevention of tick-borne diseases and how to deal with ticks if we find them on our own, our children's, or our pets' bodies. Each member was presented with a tick kit to help with the removal of ticks. Ms. Balfour is pictured below.

February 10, 2024 Meeting

Our February 10 meeting featured Professor Thomas Miller of Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing art with an entertaining and informative talk entitled "Celebrating Shakespeare." He gave us a chance to test our Shakespearean knowledge with some interesting audience participation questions.

January 13, 2024 Meeting

Our speaker was Garth Johnson, the curator of The Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Ceramics Collection at the Everson Museum of Art. In this dynamic and interesting presentation, Mr. Johnson explained that Syracuse holds a prominent place in the world of ceramics, largely due to the influence of Syracusan Adelaide Robineau who was a prominent ceramicist of the 1800's. Ms. Robineau's scarab vase is a proud and valuable possession of the gallery. Johnson explained the thousand+ hours of work that went into the making of the vase, from carving to glazing to firing. The vase is only one of many pieces of Ms. Robineau's at the museum. Her work is also exhibited throughout the United States, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Syracuse Branch President Ann Barker Griffith and Garth Johnson

The ceramics exhibit changes frequently allowing different collections and pieces by various artists to be featured. Some of the pieces are whimsical, some functional, many elegant, but all are, as Johnson said, art. He encouraged us to visit if we have not done so recently and to bring Syracuse guests to the Everson, our I.M. Pei-designed treasure.

Johnson explaining some of the finer points of the Robineau scarab vase

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Syracuse Chapter ESU Fall 2023

The Syracuse Chapter is proud to announce that Anka Chiorini won its Shakespeare Competition for the third year in a row and competed against other chapter winners from across the country at the National Shakespeare Competition in New York City at the end of April.  In her 2nd year in New York City, Anka placed in the top ten finalists in the country.  Anka has now "retired" from the high school competition and is attending Oberlin College this year.  She is pictured below with Jamesville-Dewitt high school principal Greg Lawson on the left and Syracuse Chapter Shakespeare Competition Chairperson Barbara Weller on the right. 

The Syracuse Chapter has been busy with fall events at its monthly luncheons.

On October 14 Mike Intaglietta, Executive Director, spoke on The Landmark Theater, Yesterday and Today.  

November 11th brought us Robert Searing, the Curator of History at the Onondaga Historical Association, speaking on Syracuse's Gustav Stickley and the Arts and Crafts Legacy.

Pictured below are speaker Robert Searing and ESU member JoAnn Wallace.

Winter/Spring 2024 Luncheon Meeting Dates and Topics

January 13, 2024:  Ceramic Art, speaker Garth Johnson, The Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Ceramics Curator at the Everson Museum of Art.

February 10, 2024: Celebrating Shakespeare, speaker Prof. Thomas Miller, Associate Professor, College of Visual and Performing Art, Syracuse University Department of Drama.

March 9, 2024:  Tick Talk, speaker Elizabeth Balfour of the CNY Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease of Allliance

April 13, 2024:  Mercy Works: Empowering the Children and Youth of Syracuse, speaker Natividad Torrence, Program Director, Mercy Works:

May 11, 2024:  Annual Meeting.  Additional Programming TBA. 

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The ESU National Shakespeare Competition Starts Now!

News Photo

We are pleased to announce the kick-off of the ESU's National Shakespeare Competition! Schools in our region may enter now, giving students the opportunity to compete in the Syracuse Branch Competition.  The winner of the branch competition will travel to NYC to compete in the national finals at Lincoln Center!  

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Upcoming Programs, Spring 2023

May 13

Our 75th Year Celebration
Conducting Speaker: Christian Capocaccia, Artistic Director, Syracuse Opera Company and Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton

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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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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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ESU Meetings Fall 2022

The Syracuse chapter of the English-Speaking Union has enjoyed dynamic speakers and each others' company this fall.  The September meeting featured Rick Bunting, known as the "Roadside Naturalist."  He enjoys sharing his love of nature (especially birds) through his photography and lectures.

Prior to showing us all how to follow our passions in retirement years, Rick served at the Chair of Music Education at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and served as the conductor of the Crane Chorus.

Joining Jim were also Joan Ragland and Maryanne Adams from the Onondaga Audobon Society.

In October we were pleased to have a presentation by Ryan Novak, the developer of the Chocolate Pizza Company in Marcellus, New York.  Ryan graduated from Syracuse University, where he was the place kicker on the football team.  He earned a degree in business studies at the Whitman School of Management. He began working at the small local store at age 15. 

His strong work ethic and winning personality led to his purchase of the store at age 25, turning it into to an international company. Pizza and Wings are two of the 100+ chocolate products available from the company. He is pictured here with E-SU member Norma Ferguson.

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The English-Speaking Union

Syracuse Branch

Welcome to the ESU

The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.

To find out more about our programs click here.