Mary Wood Receives Pat Nielsen Poetry Award


Lester Barrett Jr. opened the Third Annual Pat Nielsen Poetry Award presentation on March 8 with a benediction of sorts, an acapella version of ” The Wind Beneath My Wings,”  followed by local poet and event facilitator Meredith Hadaway reading one of Nielsen’s poems, “Rebirth.” Chester River Association (CRA) president Marcy Ramsey  introduced this year’s poetry judge Leslie Harrison, Visiting Professor of English at Washington College and author of Displacement. Harrison told the audience at Bookplate that she, “… has a peculiar obsession with rivers,” and added that she was, “delighted by all the poems, and would like to have picked more than just a winner and runner-up.”

This year’s award  was presented to Mary Wood, whose family is from Centreville, for her wonderful poem “Lunch Break.” Connie Schroth was awarded honorable mention for her poem, Cathartes Aura.  Schroth dedicated her poem to Ed Minch, who built her a tree house. Special mention goes to 18 year old Kathy Wagner, who read her poem “This River Flows Soft” at the open mic part of the evening and was given an enthusiastic round of applause.  The evening concluded with CRA Riverkeeper David Foster reading “The Amphibian Perspective,” with Kate Live and John Ramsey illustrating.

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Pat Nielsen and her husband Ed were founding members of the the Chester River Association when it was started in 1986. Pat was a passionate activist when it came to the Chester, and an especially strong force behind the public outreach events, such as Riverfest and the Fall Pumpkin Parties. Pat served on the Board of Directors until her death 4 years ago after a long and valiant struggle with breast cancer. Because she was a gifted poet in her own right and a great lover of the world of poetry, CRA decided to honor her memory with an annual prize given to a Kent or Queen Anne’s County poet who in the best judgment a professional in the field captured the spirit of the Chester River and its environment.

CRA plans to maintain this yearly event well into the future, and encourages all the poetic souls out there to send in their best efforts come next winter for the Fourth Annual Pat Herold Nielsen Poetry Event.

Lunch Break by Mary Wood

The wings of a buzzard
blur an unbreathable sky.

“Hazardous levels’ the radio warns
our wilting breakfast table.

The phone rings.
“No use operating,” it tells us.

We pass our friend’s new house,
Her red station wagon waits patiently in the carport.
For lunch tomatoes from the garden,
tea tepid in weeping glasses.
“No relief in sight”
says the newspaper.
We drive back to the office
Following our own monoxide.
The buzzard has drifted away.
The red station wagon blazes.

Cathartes Aura
by Connie Schroth

Creekside scavenging over,
they circle
In silent broad vees,
tilting in the solstice sunset
glinting from soot to silver-peach,
And settle into their high undertakers’ inn
dreaming of the dead.

Lunch Break

The wings of a buzzard
blur an unbreathable sky.

“Hazardous levels’ the radio warns
our wilting breakfast table.

The phone rings.
“No use operating,” it tells us.

We pass our friend’s new house,
Her red station wagon waits patiently in the carport.
For lunch tomatoes from the garden,
tea tepid in weeping glasses.
“No relief in sight”
says the newspaper.
We drive back to the office
Following our own monoxide.
The buzzard has drifted away.
The red station wagon blazes.

Sold Out Show for Women Helping Women


The 7th Annual Women Helping Women show at the Garfield Center for the Arts was sold out for the seventh year in a row. The event raises funds for Dr. Maria Boria’s Marydel clinic which provides free care to low income migrant workers, who have no health insurance. Music director and pianist Stef Scaggiari accompanied a host of local performers who sang and played tunes of thanks and gratitude. Dr. Boria’s grandchildren stepped on stage for a surprise performance.

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Underwriters included Houston’s Dockside Emporium and Mimi’s Closet. Additional donations may be sent to: Women Helping Women, 203 High St. Unit 2, Chestertown, MD 21620

Spy Profile: National Music Festival


Caitlin Patton, Executive Director, and Richard Rosenberg, Conductor

The Spy sat down with Richard Rosenberg to discuss the concept of the  National Music Festival and its  Chestertown debut. Maestro Rosenberg comes to town with an extraordinarily rich and diverse resume of experience as he prepares to launch what may become one of the Eastern Shore’s most popular summer events.

Why does this Festival exist?

The Festival exists to fill a need in the classical music world – the need for young musicians to hone their craft in an intense environment and a professional timetable. We also offer opportunities for students to learn about the business side of music (how to read a contract, how to promote themselves), to learn how to avoid stress injuries, and we try to instill into our apprentices a sense of entrepreneurship – because none of these things are commonly taught in colleges and conservatories, but they are vital for these young musicians to survive their careers.

Who does it serve?

The primary purpose of the Festival is to serve as an orchestral training workshop to provide mentorship and performance opportunities to talented musicians on the cusp of their professional careers. The wonderful byproduct of this is that the musicians present about 200 rehearsals and over 25 concerts for the community and tourists to enjoy – so it serves both the musicians and the community.

Who are the musicians, where do they come from, and what do they learn?  What happens after they leave?

The musicians come from all over the world – last year there were 26 states and 15 countries represented. The apprentices are chosen through a competitive application process, and are selected by their mentors. They submit their applications and recordings (or videos, for conductors) online, and we forward those applications to the mentors.

They learn how to make the transition from being a student to being a professional. As a student, they generally have nine rehearsals and then one concert. As a professional, when they are on probation for their first year in an orchestral position, they may have as little as one rehearsal, and multiple concerts! Playing in orchestra and chamber ensembles next to mentors in their own discipline as well as others helps them learn how to make this transition much more efficiently. After they have successfully completed their apprenticeships, there is an ongoing relationship between the apprentices and the Festival. We intend for the mentor/apprentice relationship to last beyond the two-week Festival, and we, as mentors, continue to assist our apprentices however can, whether that be writing recommendation letters, advising them when they have questions, or any other way we might be able to help them as they continue to perfect their skills and search for a job. We have had a pretty good track record in helping our alumni to find work; in the last year my former students have won positions as assistant conductors of the Boston Symphony, Boston Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Nashville Symphony and Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and one as the Music Director of the Arkansas Symphony. Another of my former students, Julien Benichou, is Music Director of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra here on the Eastern Shore.

What kind of music is going to be played?  How do you choose the repertoire for the Festival?

Maestro Rosenberg Conducting

Most of the music is classical, although we also incorporate some jazz and improvisatory events. In programming the concerts, I aim for a blend of familiar music that will be pleasing to both the musicians and the audience, music that is unfamiliar but pleasing, music that will help the apprentices prepare for their auditions, music that you will leave whistling, music that will stretch the boundaries of the musicians and audiences, and unusual pieces, whether they be works by forgotten composers, or novel works such as the “CATcerto.”

What is the benefit of this program to Chestertown?

Last year in Floyd, VA, the Festival brought an estimated economic impact of $170,000 to the local businesses there. We expect that the impact will be greater here in Chestertown, and that the businesses in Chestertown and Kent County will benefit enormously from the Festival’s presence.

The music world benefits from the young musicians who polish their skills here, and who hopefully go out into the world and not only make great music, but are entrepreneurial, and bring classical music to people and communities who might not otherwise have access to it. The music world also benefits from the work we do in rediscovering lost or forgotten works of music, which we premiere (or give modern premieres) at the Festival, and some of which we will be recording for the Naxos record label.

Spy:  To be honest, its pretty rare for good old Chestertown to have a classical music festival decide to knock on our door wanting to have it here.  How did this all happen?

My wife, Caitlin, grew up on the Eastern Shore and lived in Chestertown for much of her life. She graduated from Washington College. I visited Chestertown with her a number of times and enjoyed my time here. When we realized that the Festival would not be able to grow in Floyd, VA, we knew we would have to move the Festival but didn’t know where. We were in Chestertown in October 2011 for our wedding, and decided then to seriously consider moving the Festival here. We met with Leslie Raimond, Executive Director of the Kent County Arts Council, a couple of days after our wedding, and also spoke with Margo Bailey. Caitlin returned soon after and spent a week here, meeting with many community members and organizations. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and we decided that Chestertown was the right place for the Festival. So far, we couldn’t be happier about that decision.

Spy:  Where do the students stay?

The students all stay in private homes in the community. We have been so pleased with the response from the community, but we are still seeking people to host musicians in their homes.

Spy:  How does the community engage with the NMF?   Will there be performances folks can attend?

There will be over 25 performances, and about 200 rehearsals. All of the rehearsals are free and open to the public, including young children. The community can also engage with the Festival by hosting musicians in their homes and volunteering. We will also offer informative lectures, both before the Festival begins and prior to each full orchestra concert.

Lodging businesses may want to offer package deals, including lodging and concert tickets. We would love to work with businesses on offers like this. Restaurants may want to open on days that they are not normally open, or stay open later at night – most musicians can’t eat before concerts, but are ravenous afterwards.

Spy:  Will there be free performances?

In addition to the free open rehearsals, there will be several free, informal performances, including two at the Farmers’ Market on June 9 and 16.

Spy:  What do you like best about Chestertown as a venue for this kind of thing?
The community here in Chestertown – and the rest of Kent County – has been incredibly welcoming to the Festival and to us personally. It is also a very artistic and arts-centered community, with great concert venues.


June 3 to 16, 2012
Season Pass $160
Individual tickets $10 and $15

all rehearsals are free and open to the public

for the full schedule click here: National Music Festival


Youth Xpression Part of Reconciliation in Action at Garfield for First Friday


Hip Hop at the Garfield Center ? This First Friday promises to be a true showing of ‘reconciliation in action’ at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre. In addition to the Kohl Lobby open house in celebration the Reconciliation Celebration’s third anniversary, Kyle Couture and Malcolm Reynolds of Youth Xpression will be holding auditions on the main stage for the open mic session the last week of March.

Executive director Lucia Foster invites the community to stop in and participate in informal conversation and dialogues on diversity at this reconciliation redux. The vessel of stones from previous years will be in the lobby; members of the community may take a stone and cast it down, signifying the casting down of social injustice. The stones will later be integrated into the theatre as a monument of unity.

Kyle Couture

Malcolm Reynolds

Couture and Reynolds created Youth Xpression  to  provide artistic expression for teens in the community. The two met at Washington College; Reynolds is a student there, Chestertown native Couture  works in the college’s  food service department. Couture, who is also a member of the Kent County Diversity Group, said over the phone that they are open to any kind of song, dance, spoken word, rap, or hip hop. He wants to show the positive side of hip hop and rap vs the negative, commenting that, “Rap has gotten a bad rap.” They are putting out a call to all youths in their teens to early twenties to come in and audition between 5:30 and 7:30 pm. People will be able to view the auditions from the balcony.

Those who pass the audition will be invited to perform at the March 28 open mic session at the Garfield Center, and plans are in progress for a Youth Expression Talent Showcase later in the year.



Artworks Offers Intermediate Drumming Workshop


Amy McNabb

According to Mark Suresh Schlanger, Drum Circle Facilitator, Drumming “breaks down barriers, because you don’t have to speak to connect. There are no hierarchies or power structures in the circle. No department has more control. Once you start playing, you begin forming something inside the circle: the group rhythm. You share ownership of that equally. You can’t help but connect on an emotional level when you’re having immense amounts of fun together.”

Artworks is now offering an intermediate drumming workshop, Drumming, the Space Between the Beats 2- Beyond 4/4 with Amy McNabb. The class will be held on March 21, 28, April 4 and 11, 7-9pm, at Sacred Heart Church.

The beat goes on in this workshop designed for students who have completed the introductory class or have at least six months percussion experience and some music theory background. Participants will study odd time signatures including 5/4, 6/8, and 9/7 and continue developing polyrhythm and improvisation skills using traditional West African rhythms. Participants should bring a large hand drum such as a djembe, doumbek, frame drum, ashiko, or conga to class. If the student doesn’t have one, then contact Artworks and we will arrange for a loaner. The fee for the class is $80 for members and $95 for others.

Amy Lemich-McNabb is a singer/songwriter/guitar player and percussionist who has been playing professionally since 1994. Amy’s “day job” is performing at over 100 nursing homes in Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, and Florida. She is certified to play music at the bedside of the chronically and terminally ill.

In addition to voice and guitar, Amy plays various hand drums including the West African djembe and talking drum, Middle Eastern doumbek, and fram edrum.

To register for the class  call 410-778-6300, email or visit

306 Park Row
Chestertown, MD 21620

Regular hours for the gift shop, office, and gallery are Wednesday through Friday, 12-3 and Saturday, 9-3.

Net-Zero Comes to Centreville


The house in Three Creeks Development outside of Centreville looks like any other traditional, stylish  new home. The only visible signs of green energy are the photovoltaic solar panels visible on the roof. And it is noticeably quiet inside, thanks to the airtight construction.  Other than those two items, the average visitor would not know that this a net-zero house, certainly the first in Centreville, and perhaps the first in Maryland.

Built by NEXUS Energy Homes,   the house is so efficient that the balance of its energy needs can be supplied with renewable energy technologies, in this case solar panels and a geo thermal heat pump. The low e windows,  superior insulation, CFL and LED lighting,  and energy star appliances all contribute to the energy efficiency. During the day, when the house generally produces more energy than it needs, the excess  is sent  into the electric company’s power grid, with a meter on the home tracking the transfer. At night, the energy is credited back to the homeowners.  At the end of 12 months, there is a net-zero energy usage.

Standard features also include a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtering system to keep out mold spores, mildew, pollen, a central vacuum and  NEXUS vision, a web- based energy monitoring system that breaks down the cost of energy use in each home. Owners can operate the house from a remote location, even turn off lights and  unlock the front door. This  2700 square foot, three bedroom, two and half bath home came in at a price of $375, 000. ( The owners did add some modifications, so the final cost was higher.)

Expandable spray foam insulation in attic

In 2012 the company launched the North Pointe Geo Solar community  in downtown, Frederick, 54 energy-efficient townhouses and duplexes, and are planning more communities of varying price ranges in Jefferson and Stevensville, MD. They also offer a  package of architecture, construction, technology and energy efficiency services to those wishing to build a custom, net-zero home.

For more information on NEXUS Energy Homes, click here

Worth the Drive: SONiA & disappear fear @ NightCat


Wammie award winning folk singer-songwriter SONiA comes to NightCat for a special reunion tour with disappear fear, Friday, February 17 at 8 P.M.

Longtime Andy’s music regulars; we’re talking back in the late eighties and early nineties, will recall SONiA and sister Cindy, (or is it CiNDY), consistently playing to a full house. Pretty sure I listened to their music via tape prior to booking the first show. Those days musicians used to send a  physical press kit in the mail, CDs were still a bit of a novelty item. It was the Dark Ages. Today most music venues specifically request that you not send anything via snail mail.

The disappear fear sisters  instantly charmed the audience; no whiny love songs, but powerful tunes with perfectly harmonizing vocals that sent shivers up your spine. SONiA reminded me of  a sixtes protest singer, ready to take on the world, and indeed, Phil Ochs is one of  her heroes. The two recorded a tribute cd last year titled, Get Your Phil.

Cindy stopped performing as part of disappear fear in the mid-nineties, she wanted to stay home and raise a family, but she still goes on tour every now and then. Don’t believe she will be singing with SONiA this weekend, but you never know !

Here is the official press release:

From the Opera House in Sydney, to the Open House in Jerusalem, SONiA (Rutstein aka disappear fear) writes and performs captivating love songs and confronts the hypocrisies and biases of our culture with a positive message of openness and optimism. Having performed in Israel/ Palestine and in many parts of the world, SONiA’s Judaic roots live in the colors of her songs and paintings. SONiA has performed in 16 countries and has just as many award winning Albums to her credit. She has received the GLAMA Award for Female Artist of the Year, Best Band, Best Song, WAMA Award for Best Vocalist, Out Music Award for OUTstanding World Music CD, OUTstanding Single, Best in Blues Finalist for IMA Awards, and Finalist for the Telluride Song Competition.

SONiA is also an extraordinary talent as a guitar player, leading the Santa Cruz Guitar Company to create a SONiA Model which has been sold in the US, Germany and Australia. In declaring her the city’s best singer-songwriter, Baltmore City Paper says, “her songs teach us, seduce us, remind us of happy growing up days. And they break down barriers…she makes her guitar speak as eloquently as her words do.”

SONiA’s reputation extends far beyond Charm City. Don Kening of the Chicago Herald says, “SONiA’s songs are a vivid celebration of the human spirit in all its infinite manifestations…Disappear Fear’s music has a singular sound all its own that makes labeling and categorizing a waste of time.”Her music deserves widespread exposure for a true audience that has both a heart and a brain and aren’t afraid of music that touches both.”

Recommended if you like:   Jonatha Brooke, Ani DiFranco or Dar Williams

Friday, February 17, 2011
8 pm

Tickets $20

5 Goldsborough St
Easton, MD 21601

Many Voices, One Song Was the Theme for MD Arts Day


Senate President Mike Miller addresses audience at MD Arts Day

Representatives of the visual arts, theatre, music, dance, folk and literary organizations across the state of Maryland converged upon Annapolis on February 8 for Maryland Arts Day, sponsored by the Maryland Citizens for the Arts. It was an opportunity for attendees to visit with their respective delegates and advocate for the arts, network, and participate in workshops.

Master of ceremonies John Schratwieser,  Executive Director of MD Citizens for the Arts, and former Executive Director of  the Prince Theatre, introduced the  various elected state officials, including Senate President Mike Miller, who stopped by during the morning session to greet the audience and proclaim their support of the arts. Keynote speaker Bashi Rose,  Baltimore theatre artist and filmmaker,  discussed the role art played in his personal accomplishments – keeping him off the streets and out of trouble. He described his experiences conducting drama workshops in  prison, and his success with the youth arts program in Baltimore, Dancing Many Drums, he  formed together with his wife. Bashi concluded his talk with a poem by his father, accompanied by his uncle Will Rose playing the conga.

Keynote speaker Bashi Rose, accompanied by conga. Photo courtesy MSAC

Presenters informed arts representatives that Governor O’Malley has recommended ‘level funding’ for the Arts Council in his FY 2013 budget, (it is  the same amount as the previous year, approximately $13.2 million), and urged them to ask their delegates not to cut the budget. The audience was reminded that the arts are an economic engine,  supporting nearly 11,000 jobs in the state, fostering consumer spending, supporting  hundreds of small businesses, and bringing in almost $36 million in local and state tax revenue. In addition, they have an impact beyond jobs  – contributing to higher academic achievement, social skills, and social change.

Representatives from the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre: Lucia Foster, Sam Howell, Butch Clark, Bennett Price, Andy Goddard, and Armond Fletcher, Kent County Arts Council Executive Director Leslie Raymond, and Sylvia Maloney of the Church Hill Theatre gathered with other Eastern Shore advocates to meet with their elected officials.  Delegates Stephen Hershey, Jay Jacobs and Michael Smigiel from the 36th district, and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio from district 37B listened to various arts representatives exhort them to continue fully funding  the arts. Jay Jacobs invited the Kent County contingent to visit him personally in his office, where he stated that he was in complete agreement with the importance of art in the community, referencing the important role  the Mainstay had in revitalizing Rock Hall, but cautioned the group that money was very tight, and that this will be a very difficult year.

Kent School Students to Participate in “Terrapins in the Classroom” Program


Students are responsible for monitoring and measuring the growth of Kent School’s visiting terrapin. Pictured left to right are: Payton Taylor, Lisa Robinson and Annabelle Gillespie

Kent School’s 3rd grade has been chosen to participate in a unique classroom activity and field experience because of their involvement with the Terrapins in the Classroom program and a strong Environmental Education curriculum.

A Nature of Learning grant will fund the National Aquarium staff to visit Kent School and engage students in a hands – on classroom program focused on the effects of climate change on the Chesapeake Bay by looking at the impact of sea level rise on the Northern diamondback terrapin. In addition, the National Aquarium has partnered with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to provide an opportunity for a day in May of outdoor activities at the Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge.

This will be the fifth year that the 3rd grade class at Kent School has performed a service project at the refuge. Last year’s class planted approximately 1,200 spartina plugs on the western side of the island. It is hoped that these grasses will help to prevent erosion and protect the beach area that is so important for terrapin nesting habitat.