Nobody can deny, after sampling 10 seconds of her soul-lifting musical output, that Esperanza Spalding has earned every plaudit her global devotees have dealt — and all the critical acclaim she has received — because of the beauty, talent and gifts that come from deep inside this former childhood musical prodigy. Local fans already aware of Spalding’s talent and sublime showmanship can visit with her in person, while newcomers can revel in the experience of catching her lightning in a bottle performance when she opens a brief early fall tour at The Ridgefield Playhouse October 1.
The Alt, a stunning new trio currently touring the United States with their self-titled album, combines the talents of three Irish traditional musicians who are all at the top of their game: John Doyle, formerly of Solas, on guitar, mandola, Irish bouzouki, and vocals; Nuala Kennedy, a noted solo artist and a member of the group Orialla, on flute, whistles, and vocals; and Eamon O’Leary, of the New York duo The Murphy Beds, on bouzouki, guitar, and vocals. The the Shamrock Traditional Irish Music Society recently hosted The Alt at Newtown Meeting House, and a very enthusiastic crowd welcomed them.
Do you know what’s growing in your backyard? Thanks to the Garden Club of Newtown members’ efforts, residents can take a look at some of the problem plants that are thriving in Newtown. Information and photos of these plants are now on display in a short-term exhibition at C.H. Booth Library. “September Is Invasive Plant Removal Month,” announces a sign greeting guests to the library’s back entrance. Beside it are posters giving away clues to recognizing invasive plants that crowd out native species and over time can even kill mature trees. Garden Club of Newtown members are hoping to help resident green thumbs know how to spot plants such as Bittersweet, Mile-A-Minute vine, Porcelain Berry, Bindweeds, Dodder, Black Swallowwort, Akebia, and Japanese Honeysuckle.
Community and state leaders, volunteers, and numerous supporters of Newtown Youth & Family Services (NYFS) joined NYFS Executive Director Candice Bohr and staff in celebrating the organization’s 30 years of commitment to the community, as well as honoring special NYFS award recipients, Tuesday, September 23, at a breakfast event held at Rock Ridge Country Club. Following a brief social hour prior to the 8 am start of the breakfast, NYFS Board of Directors Chairman Jesse Rosenschein introduced the guest speaker, Dr John Murphy, president and CEO of Western Connecticut Health Network. As part of his remarks, Dr Murphy emphasized the contributions of NYFS as being central to a mission of improving health in the community.
If today’s library is a gathering place as well as a place where information is accumulated and passed on to the public, then it should be of no surprise that C.H. Booth Library will host an open house unlike others in its long history. On Saturday, September 27, the public is invited to attend the chbMakers Open House, from noon to 4 pm, and experience the disbursement of information that comes not from books, but from the passions and expertise of other community members. The four-hour open house will offer workshops, mainly on the first and second levels, in subjects that range from Scratch Coding for computers and soldering to arm knitting and modular electronics. Geared for all ages, visitors will have the opportunity for hands-on dabbling under the guidance of skilled hobbyists and experts. The chbMakers is a response to the MakerSpace movement that has been sweeping schools, libraries, and other organizations for nearly a decade, bringing together “makers” from communities to share ideas.
Cecelia Ann Ragusa and cousin Halle Rowan Pechenko are four months old now. The daughters of Jessica (Stiewing) and Thomas Ragusa of Newtown and of Brook (Stiewing) and Eric Pechenko of Brookfield see each other nearly every day, as they have since Cecelia’s May 29 birth and Halle’s May 30 birth. The “twousins” — not quite twins, but more than just cousins — were born less than 26 hours apart at Danbury Hospital, much to the surprise of their parents. The sisters had due dates that were close but not as close as what ended up happening a few months ago. Brook was due to deliver her third child on June 2, and Jessica was expecting to give birth to her first child on June 11.
The Comfort Quilt is one of 250 quilts received by the Town of Newtown following 12/14. Created in 2001 by the children of St Hilary Catholic School in Fairlawn, Ohio, the 35-block quilt was first presented to the students of St James Catholic Grammar School in Red Bank, N.J. after 9/11, as a tangible display of the thoughts and prayers sent their way. Since it has passed from community to community, eventually finding its way to Newtown following the 12/14 tragedy, and it is clear, said Town Human Resources Director Carole Ross that the Comfort Quilt is meant to be shared. This cannot happen, however, until the quilt is located. Since the spring of 2013, the quilt has been missing.
Hula hoops cast dizzying shadows across the Fairfield Hills lawn Sunday, September 14, where Tanner Chase of Velvet Orchid out of Bristol danced through her hoop routine. With the Newtown Arts Festival going on around her, others celebrated under a baby blue sky with ribbons, rainbow splashes of paint, arts, crafts, demonstrations, sculpture, poetry reading, and more. The two-day, outdoor festival was part of Newtown Cultural Arts Commission’s “ridiculous abundance of enriching activities throughout September all around town.” And while the signature event has completed, there are still a pair of Newtown Arts Festival events to look forward to this weekend.
A beer and wine tasting event in Trumbull next month will benefit Where Angels Play Foundation, the group responsible for 26 playgrounds that have been built during the past 16 months with a dual purpose. They have primarily been built in communities that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Each one has also honored the memory of a woman or child killed on 12/14. When the 26 Sandy Ground Project playgrounds are finished, the foundation will continue to build playgrounds in communities that have been visited by tragedy. It hopes to be in Boston by April, to build an playground for those who were killed or injured during last year's Boston Marathon bombings. Funds raised during the October 3 beer and wine tasting will help those efforts.