Chestertown Profiles: A New Doctor has Arrived in Town

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Dr. Julia Belanger winces a bit when being referred to as an endangered species, but she does accept the fact that very few general practitioners these days decide to come to small rural communities to start their careers.

But that is precisely what Julia agreed to do when she and her husband, Rolando Irizarry, a public relations professional now working at Washington College, agreed to locate in Chestertown with the deliberate motive to making their quality of life their primary objective.

The Spy tracked Dr. Belanger down at the recently opened at University of Maryland Shore Medical Pavilion on Philosophers Terrace to take about this decision, her background, and her new practice.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Dr. Belanger and Shore Health please go here

Mid-Shore Profiles: YMCA of the Chesapeake’s Shania Gregory

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Over the course of the next twelve months, the Spy will be presenting several profiles of individuals who make up the YMCA family on the Mid-Shore. Almost since the Spy started in 2009, we have been exceptionally impressed by the unique success story of the YMCA of the Chesapeake and its leadership, programming, and sense of civic responsibility. From chess classes near Chincoteague to rumba instruction in Cambridge, diabetes prevention in Denton, yoga in Centreville, swimming in Elkton, senior fitness in St. Michaels or even pickleball in Easton, the Y stands alone in the scope and scale of their work.

We decided to start our series with one of the more moving examples of how this regional resource has changed lives with the story of Shania Gregory. Growing up in Easton with her three brothers and a single mom with multiple jobs, Shania’s family had limited recreational options until her mother, determined to give her children a safe place to play, reached out the YMCA and found an organization eager to help make that happen regardless of costs.

So it was particularly exciting to note Shania returned to her beloved YMCA as part of the staff and more recently she was named as the Y’s membership director whose primary responsibility is to encourage families, like her own years ago, to become involved and stay active.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the YMCA of the Chesapeake please go here

Spy Minute: For the Love of Pippin with WC’s Ernie Green

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For anyone who fondly remembers the Broadway musical Pippin as they were growing up in the 1970s, it is tough to imagine a bad version of that classic. Filled with memorable songs, a relatively simple plot, and lyrics that seemed universal, Pippin was, and is, the kind of theater production that any would succeed anywhere if given the opportunity.

And one such opportunity comes to Chestertown fast and furious this week. As a project of the music department at Washington College, a very limited production of the such will be performed next Thursday and Friday in the Gibson Center for the Arts on campus.

This bit of news made the Spy curious about a few things about this “pop up” production and we tracked down the director and Washington College faculty member Ernie Green about this short-lived student effort.

While Ernie, a Peabody-trained conductor, lecturer in music, and director of Live Arts Maryland, is comfortable in the academic canon of classical music and other diverse, and sometimes very challenging, forms of music, he admits in the Spy interview of his lifelong love for Pippin. The project also connects him back to a former career when he often was a frequent collaborator with the late Marvin Hamlisch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, and Broadway talent.

As his cast of students prepares for their free performance on Thursday and Friday night at the Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts we talked to Ernie about the role of student productions, the magic of musical theater, and the endearing and enduring impression it can make on all ages.

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

 

Mid-Shore Arts: The MSO Combine Silent Film and Music to End Winter Blues

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The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra had an interesting programming challenge a few months ago as they were flushing out their expanded schedule this season with a February concert. In short, what was the best way to beat the winter blues?

With the Eastern Shore just recently having to endure an unusually cold January, and with February’s forecast not looking that much better, this was not the time to roll out Mahler’s Symphony #9. But it was an excellent opportunity to reuse a popular strategy used since the arrival of cinema more than a hundred years ago when silent films were paired with symphonic sounds to chase away melancholy seasonal lows.

The answer, according to MSO president Jeffrey Parker, was to blend the pure brilliance of classic silent films with the sounds of Broadway and more upbeat classics. Add in the remarkable voice of soloist Alexis Tantau, and the Shore’s favorite orchestra will take the stage at the Avalon on Feb 8 for a particular tonic for the audience to withstand winter’s adversity, at least for another month.

We checked in with Jeffrey about the evening’s plans at Mason’s for a short overview.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Please go here for ticket information here

Mid-Shore Food Notes: Yelp Says Marlena’s in Middletown is one of the Top New Restaurants in US

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The Spy was taken by surprise this morning when it was noted that Buzzfeed used Yelp’s Top USA list to highlight that Marlena’s Mediterranean Deli in Middletown, DE. was to become a destination restaurant.  Yelp determined Marlena’s standing by using an algorithm that takes into account the number of reviews and star ratings for every new restaurant.

We are eager to hear from Spy readers if they agree with this assessment. In the meantime, you can find Marlena’s on 10 West Main Street in downtown Middletown.

An Evening and Poem for Leslie at the Garfield

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While there are many special evenings at the Garfield, it will take a long time to match what took place last night as the Kent County community gathered there to celebrate and to honor Leslie Prince Raimond’s long tenure as the executive director of the Kent County Art Council.

Assembling some of the best local talent in jazz, gospel, and poetry, the community toasted Leslie by offering a taste on stage of how her contributions have changed Kent County. The Spy also got in the act by offering up a video tribute to Leslie which is shown here.

One of the more moving parts of the evening was a poem authored by Robert Earl Price.

MAGIC GARDNER
A Sestina for Leslie Prince Raimond

A master gardener sowing heirloom seed
tending the shore’s aesthetic need
Plowing the furrow of creative deed
A breathing almanac for truth seekers to read
Insuring that the beauty makers are freed
To follow where cultured tendrils lead

Plotting visions shaped by imagination’s lead
Plucking fruit from each exotic seed
Patiently waiting for art’s wildness to be freed
And desire become an urgent need
A need to plot starry nights for all to read
Inciting rebellion with a graceful deed

Forgiveness folded into tenderness by a creative deed
A trail of celebration following this mystic’s lead
Along rows of petals etched with mantras for all to read
This horticulturist gifted with pods of the mystery seed
Sculpted wonder feeding the dreamer’s need
Revealing a hidden tableau waiting to be freed

Unleashing budding talents longing to be freed
Lacing costumes for the performance of the dramatic deed
Grafting lifelines and bloodlines to feed our social need
Drawing inspiration from this master gardener’s lead
Sprouting waves of harmony from a simple seed
Editing bronze inscriptions for all to read

Inscribing tinseled air with stars to read
A path to a golden gazebo to perform the ceremony of the freed
A ritual for scattering germinating seed …
We have witnessed the ripened fruit of Leslie’s deed
Audience and artist encouraged by her lead
Finding courage to touch that place of tender need

And play in harmonic spaces that unveil deeply felt need
To choreograph monologues for generations to read
And fill hearts with dreams reaped from the mystic’s lead
She waters oddities struggling to be freed
From the manacles of censored deed
Magic sprouted and spread by a solitary seed

Into our hearts she has scattered a seed and awakened a need
To bare witness to an indelible deed – a scroll for the future to read
The accounts of creative spirits freed by the boon of Leslie’s visionary lead

robert earl price 12-12-17

 

 

Grants in Action: Making Way for Daisies with the Women & Girls Fund

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While many private foundations do admirable work in countless ways in their support for nonprofit charities, very few of them have made it a priority also to encourage and mentor young philanthropists to understand the challenges and benefits that come with giving money to needy organizations.

That cannot be said of the Women & Girls Fund which for the last several years has done just that with a dedicated program called the Daisy Fund.

The Daisy Fund was designed to help parents, grandparents, or friend teach their young loved ones the art of giving by setting up them with a designated fund ($10,000 minimum pledge) in their child’s name with the Women & Girls Fund which requires the direct input of the participants in making grant decisions.

Now with eleven active participants involved, the Daisy Fund also provides educational opportunities and field visits to applicants to learn the importance of due diligence and the vetting process to determine the best use of their funds.

Over the last few weeks, we spent some time with two Daisy Fund participants, along with Women & Girls Fund Board member Donna Cantor, to understand how powerful this program has become. .The Spy reached out to Donna’s granddaughter, Lauren Westrick, in California via FaceTime (hence the poor audio quality) as well as Women & Girls Fund founder Alice Ryan’s daughter, Allie Prell in Easton, to talk about their experience.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Women & Girls Fund Daisy Fund please go here 

 

Spy Report: Academy Art Museum Members Take Over the Galleries

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About this time every year, the members of the Academy Art Museum stage a very polite coup d’etat on South Street and take over the walls in every gallery to share their artwork with the community. From oil paintings to sculpture, and photography to watercolors, over two hundred objects fill the Museum from July 29th through September 4th.

This tradition has been a part of the AAM since it first opened its doors in 1958, and also one of the most popular programs as friends and family members see these artists work in a museum setting. It was has become an important exhibition for Museum staff to see new talent, some of whom are invited to show their art in a one person show.

The Spy spoke for a few minutes with Ben Simons, the director of the AAM, as well as its curator, Anke Van Wagenberg, on the 59th year of the and sampled some of the art on display at the Annual Members’ Exhibition.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information on the AAM Annual Members’ Exhibition please go here

Tracking the Journey of the Sun by Nancy Mugele

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Why do sunflowers make us so happy? The entire bloom is a smile and it so hard not to see its joyfulness. We flock to the nearest sunflower fields in late summer and snap smiling selfies amidst the endless bright yellow blooms. There is a small patch of sunflowers on the lane leading to Kent School. I have been away for a week and all of a sudden it seems they are blooming – although perhaps a bit too early. Their surprising appearance and their uplifted faces are so welcoming and fill me with hope.

English actor Dame Helen Mirren said, “I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life than the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.”

Tracking the journey of the sun each day, and in each new season, has become a recent fascination of mine after living on the Chester River for exactly one year. I have been enthralled by its gentle voyage up and down the river bank. Last week my family spent the 4th of July on Cape Cod with my brother’s family admiring beautiful sunsets on Cape Cod Bay that mirror ours in Chestertown. While I was on the Cape one of my dearest friends who lives in France posted a sunset photo from her cottage in Normandy. We were both following the same sun, 3700 miles and several hours apart, yet our connectedness was palpable.

Finding the sunlight, no matter how weak it may appear, is truly a great life lesson. I am a glass-half-full person and I look for sunshine in every situation. I believe that is why I am passionate about education. My chosen field is a reflection of the sunflower field, and I stand in awe of the inspiring teachers at Kent School who help students find the sunlight each and every day. All while nourishing their students’ hearts and minds so they grow steadfast with their faces confidently pointing to the sun.

Although sunflowers will bloom only for a finite time, I rejoice in their honest beauty as they follow the daily journey of the rising and setting sun. I think I may need a sun dial.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.