Mid-Shore Arts: The MSO “Holiday Joy” Preview with Julien Benichou and Jeffrey Parker


While there are plenty of reasons to be grateful that the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra makes Easton its home throughout the year, it is hard to match the enthusiasm and brilliance performances that come with the Symphony’s annual holiday program. And this year is no different.

On December 7 at 7 p.m., the Orchestra will return to the Avalon for their celebration of the December holidays which gave us an opportunity to catch up with Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s musical director, Julien Benichou, and the Symphony board president, Jeffrey Parker to get a sneak preview of what’s planned for what must be the MSO’s most popular performance of the year.

This year the orchestra will be joined by soprano Leah Hawkins in what both Julian and Jeffrey agree could be a perfect pairing of an extraordinary singer with the warmth and brilliance of David Fraser’s This Christmastide or Jessye’s Carol since composition was written for the great Jessye Norman.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra please go here


Mid-Shore Education: Radcliffe Creek School’s Molly Judge Takes a Bow


As Radcliffe Creek School director Molly Judge enters her last year leading the private school she founded in Chestertown as a regional hub for bright students who learn differently, it is safe to predict that what took place at the Mid-Shore Community Foundation’s annual awards lunch last Friday will be repeated quite a few times before she officially steps down at the end of June.

And that is because, as Buck Duncan, president of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, noted in his remarks to the overflow crowd in presenting Molly with the Foundation’s Town Watch Society Award, Molly has, “changed the educational landscape on the Mid-Shore forever.”

The Spy caught some of Buck’s comments and raided the Radcliffe Creek School’s Facebook page for some images of the school and its students.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Radcliffe Creek School please go here


Spy Survey Results: Cut vs. Hire


Thanks to all who participated!

In our unscientific survey we found from our many responses that 70% always cut their grass with tractor or mower, while 19% never cut their own grass.

A full 2/3rds strongly agreed that they enjoy taking care of their own lawn; with, 51% strongly agreeing that they like driving a tractor.

Maybe best of all, regardless of whether you “cut” or “hire,” a full 83% report liking the way the lawn looks.

Numerous comments offered even more insights…some of our favorites:

“When I was growing up, my brothers got to mow the grass while I had to do housecleaning. I love mowing the grass, especially with my starts-in-2-pulls-of-the-rope Toro! I let my grass grow quite tall so that mowing it will be even more satisfying, and I sometimes play with making patterns as I cut. So much fun!”

“Husband sits on the tractor and cuts the fields and larger areas. Wife pushes the gas powered lawn mower around the trees and foundation plantings.  Both are happy with the outcome!”

“It is a peaceful time to be riding a mower trimming grass. Nobody bothers me with questions or whatever. I look forward to doing it every 4 days.”

“I grew up in a city apartment where I never learned to be expert with lawns or shrubs. I love the way our yard looks and could never hope to make it so nice with my lack of knowledge on the subject. I do my expert things and pay someone else who is good at their’s to do the lawn and all that comes with it. That helps make everyone happy and employed.”

“The best solution might be a herd of sheep but they are not as fast. See below”

What a Tease: The 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival Trailer Released


One of the most fun parts of any film festival is the tradition of creating a unique trailer to promote it.  The Chesapeake Film Festival has been doing this for years – ten years to be exact – and for 2017 asked independent film producer and current volunteer marketing director for the CFF, Kindall Rende, to give it a go.

The Spy obtained her final version and thought our readers would enjoy seeing it as the Mid-Shore prepares for the popular film program to returns from October 27th to the 29th.

For more information about the 2017 Chesapeake Film Festival please go here

Washington College Transition: Bair Resigns


The Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors today announced the resignation of President Sheila Bair.

“We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with President Bair for these past two years, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors,” said Board Chair H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. “Her work on behalf of both this institution, and the nation’s undergraduate population as a whole, to diminish our national student debt crisis has been remarkable, and we both thank and commend President Bair for her dedication to improving access to high-quality education for all students.”

“It was my privilege and pleasure to serve as President of this historic college, and my time here is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my career and life,” said President Bair. “Being a part of an institution co-founded by our nation’s own Founding Father, George Washington, will be impossible to match, and I thank the students, faculty, staff, and Board of Visitors and Governors for their support these past two years, particularly for our access and affordability initiatives. Unfortunately, this job has required that I be away from my family quite a bit, and I underestimated the hardship that would create when I took up leadership of the college. I regret that I am not able to serve my full five-year term, but in many ways, thanks to the dedicated efforts of our hardworking campus community, we accomplished in two years what would have required five at other institutions.”

President Bair came to Washington College after serving as Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2006 to 2011, where she played a key role in stabilizing the banking system during the financial crisis. She was officially appointed in May 2015, and served as the institution’s first female president in its 234-year history.

A native of Independence, Kansas, Bair earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of Kansas in 1974 and a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1978. She began her career in public service as an aide to Kansas senator Bob Dole and later served as a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a senior vice president for government relations at the New York Stock Exchange, and Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. For four years, she was the Dean’s Professor of Financial Regulatory Policy for the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Appointed to lead the FDIC by President George W. Bush in 2006, Bair was recognized for sound fiscal management and for raising employee morale. She was one of the first officials to warn about the damage the growing subprime mortgage crisis would pose to millions of homeowners and the economy at large. Consumer advocates praised her relentless efforts to represent the interests of homeowners, bank customers and taxpayers. She helped shape and implement the Dodd-Frank Act, which gave the FDIC expanded power to “wind down” rather than bail out a failing bank, and created the Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion in an effort to bring banking services to underserved populations.

Bair chronicled her five years at the FDIC in Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself, a New York Times bestseller published in September 2012. A prolific writer, she has been a regular contributor to Fortune and has written three books for children that offer lessons in financial literacy.

During her presidency at the college, she pioneered several student debt reduction programs, including a program to match scholarship dollars to every dollar spent out of a family’s 529 or Education Savings Account, and George’s Brigade, offering full scholarships to highly qualified, low-income students. In addition, she ushered in Fixedfor4, a tuition plan that guarantees entering students that their tuition will not go up during their four years at the College, bringing certainty to one of the largest expenditures a family makes.

Launched in the fall of 2016, the Brigade saw 14 first-generation students complete their freshmen year. Twenty new George’s Brigade scholars are expected to matriculate in the fall. Another affordability initiative, Dam the Debt, is a “back-end” scholarship that helps pay off the federal loans of graduating seniors. Since its inception, Washington College has dispersed a total of $659,000 to graduating seniors, reducing their overall debt by over 10 percent.

The College expects to continue the efforts that began under Bair’s leadership. Her contributions to the improvements in diversity, retention, advancement, and alumni participation are greatly appreciated, as is the contribution she made to help raise the public profile of the College

President Bair’s resignation will be effective June 30.

Mid-Shore History: Thinking of Frederick Douglass at Wye House under the “Witness Trees”


While there are certainly some very special moments that come with historical discovery for scholars — a rare letter found in an attic or a personal diary uncovered at an antique store — nothing compares to the feeling and emotion that comes with sharing the same habitat as your subject. Whether that be George Washington and Mount Vernon, Thomas Jefferson and Monticello, or Frederick Douglass and the Wye House Plantation, to be able to experience a connection between these American heros and where they lived cannot be beat.

That was certainly clear last Sunday afternoon at the Wye House when the Frederick Douglass Honor Society hosted for four distinguished historians to discuss one of America’s greatest social reformers under that Douglass had called the “witness trees” of Wye House. Professors David Blight from Yale, Dale Glenwood Green from Morgan State, Hari Jones from the American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum and John Stauffer from Harvard all spoke of the importance that Wye played in Douglass’ writing and mission in life.

The Spy was able to collect a few segments from each speaker.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more information about the Frederick Douglass Honor Society please go here.

The Good Stuff: MSCF Hands Out $500K in Mid-Shore Scholarships


There are some very special days in the life of the Mid-Shore throughout the year, but very few of them can match the joy and the hope that comes with the annual distribution of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation scholarship fund to deserving young people in all five counties.

Last Saturday morning at the Talbot Country Club, Foundation president Buck Duncan, along with the MSCF Scholarship Fund co-John Lewis and programs director Robin Hill, handed out over a half million dollars of scholarship funding for eighty-one high school and college students from thirty-five different funds at the MSCF. Those awards ranged from $500-$20,000.

The Spy was there to capture the award ceremony and shared these excerpts to share this great moment for the Eastern Shore.

This video is approximately seventeen minutes in length.  For more information about the Mid-Shore Community Foundation and its scholarship program please go here

Sneak Preview: Get Ready for Four Hands on One Piano in Easton


Get ready for four hands on one piano,poerty by Robert Frost, and music by Brahms when the the Easton Choral Arts Artistic Director Wes Lockfaw conducts Johannes Brahms’s Liebeslieder Waltzes on April 28 and 29. Joining regular accompanist Rebecca Zinser on the four-hand piano accompaniment will be University of Maryland professor, Veronica Tomanek. Also on the program is Frostiana, a choral work based on the text of seven Robert Frost poems set to music by American composer, Randall Thompson. Fern Hill, a poem in three parts by Dylan Thomas with music by John Corigliano and Rene Clausen’s arrangement of Black is the Color of My True Love’s’ Hair will conclude the performance.

The concert will be held at Christ Church, Easton on Friday, April 28 and Sunday, April 30, 2017. Tickets are $25 general admission in advance, or $30 at the door. Students are admitted free (reservations required). Purchase tickets at EastonChoralArts.org. 410-200-0498.

The State of New Immigrants on the Mid-Shore


Ever since there’s been a new administration in charge in Washington, the issue of legal and illegal immigration has once again become a complicated issue for not only the country but small communities like Easton and Chestertown on the Mid-Shore. And no one is perhaps in a better position to comment on this current environment then Matthew Peters, director of the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center. Since the Center was formed in 2012, Matt and his colleagues have been on the frontline working with individuals and families to acclimate and adjust to a new country under tough circumstances.

Given the potential for significant changes in immigration laws under the Trump administration, we wanted to check in with Matt about the currents state of affairs.

This video is approximately twelve minutes in length. For more information about the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center please go here