Lexington Symphony Celebrates 300th Anniversary at September Concert

 The September concert, which will kick of the orchestra’s celebration of Lexington’s 300th anniversary, features music dedicated to the love of place and of city. The program consists of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ second symphony, known as the “London” symphony, and recent compositions by two living female composers, Jennifer Higdon and Sky Macklay.

Sky Macklay

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Sunday

September 23

3PM

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The orchestra will perform the world premiere of Dissolving Bands by young composer Sky Macklay. Macklay was selected through a process of collaboration with the Walden School in New Hampshire, a summer music school and festival that offers programs that emphasize creative application, specifically through music improvisation and composition. A jury consisting of Lexington Symphony Music Director Jonathan McPhee and Walden school leadership selected Macklay to be the recipient of a commission by the Lexington Symphony. The composer was asked to reflect on the possible meanings of the town’s 300th anniversary in musical language.

Macklay describes the resulting work, Dissolving Bands, as inspired by the first sentence in the Declaration of Independence which begins, ‘When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.’” She writes, “Musically, I channeled the emotions that the Massachusetts colonists may have felt before the eruption of the Revolutionary war, beginning with rapidly changing instrumental choirs ascending in staccato clusters of unpredictable turbulence and ever-mounting tension. Later sections express uncertainty, fortitude, and the calm, open space of unknown future possibilities.”

Jennifer Higdon

Lexington Symphony will also be performing two movements (“Peachtree Street” and “Skyline”) from Jennifer Higdon’s 2004 composition City Scape. Pulitzer-prize winner Jennifer Higdon is one of the most performed living American composers working today. Her list of commissioners range from the Cleveland Orchestra to the Tokyo String Quartet, from The President’s Own Marine Band to Hilary Hahn. Higdon received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto, with the committee citing Higdon’s work as a “deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity.” She has also received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts & Letters (two awards), the National Endowment for the Arts, and ASCAP.

Tickets are available online at www.lexingtonsymphony.org, by phone at 781.523.9009, with your check payable to Lexington Symphony, P.O. Box 194, Lexington MA 02420, or in person at The Crafty Yankee at 1838 Mass Ave. in Lexington Center (cash/check only). Ticket prices for the September 23 concert are $50, $40, $30, $20 (student).

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Pat Costello – Unsung Heroine

 

By State Senator Ken Donnelly  |

Caption for Picture: Representative Jay Kaufman, Unsung Heroine Pat Costello, and Cindy Friedman, Chief of Staff for Senator Ken Donnelly.

We see heroes in our local papers and on the news almost every day. They are typically someone who has performed a brave act or gone above and beyond the call of duty; the fireman who runs back into a burning house to save a family’s beloved pet, or the bystander who was witness to a car accident and performed CPR on the victim until the emergency personnel arrived. These people greatly deserve the recognition and praise they receive for their heroic actions. But there are those who better our communities behind the scenes that we don’t ever h ear about. This is why I was extremely proud to nominate Pat Costello as an Unsung Heroine through the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.

Pat is the type of woman every community should have. A long time community advocate and volunteer, Pat currently dedicates most of her time to helping others in her hometown of Lexington. She is currently the Co-Chair of the Selectman’s Tax Exemption and 7Deferral Advisory Committee, a group that works on issues regarding local property tax relief for seniors and other qualifying groups. Pat also keeps abreast of the most current state legislation regarding income limits and benefit amounts and undertakes the tedious task of updating the town’s tax deferral literature throughout the year for her fellow residents.

Pat is a volunteer with the AARP’s tax preparation program. Each year she takes a multi-day exam to be certified and then volunteers many hours of her time at the Lexington Senior Center helping seniors prepare their tax returns. While Pat’s time may seem to be consumed with tax law, she is also an active member of the League of Women Voters, and can be seen around town in the summer in a bonnet and period dress in her role as a guide on the Liberty Ride and in Lexington’s Historic Houses.

The Unsung Heroines are women who don’t make the news, but make the difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in our neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without the expectation of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together, and every community has them.

Pat is an exceptional woman and I am truly grateful for all that she does to make Lexington a better place for those that live there. I was thrilled to hear that she was chosen as an Unsung Heroine and that she is getting the recognition she deserves for all her hard work.

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The Libra Solution~Families in the Balance

Lisa D’Annolofo Levey with her husband Brian Levey and their sons Forrest and Skylar on a family trip. Lisa describes the trip which is a great reflection of their Libra lifestyle: “As a family we traveled for 6 weeks in the summer of 2010 – four to Alaska and the National Parks and the other time in Washington DC and Virginia for a family reunion. Bryan and I had long planned two special family trips and this was the first. We saw/see these years as the sweet spot when the kids are great travelers but no one is off to college yet. Bryan took a leave of absence from work and I managed my consulting projects and book writing around the trip.”

By Laurie Atwater  | 

Last week I eagerly sat down with Lexingtonian Lisa D’Annolfo Levey to discuss her new book The Libra Solution: Shedding Excess and Redefining Success at Work and at Home.

Work/family balance and gender norms have always fascinated me.

How do we perform well at work, provide financial support for our families, parent our children and nurture ourselves in a way that is both personally rewarding and sustainable? It’s a question that working women and men struggle with throughout their lives.

As we talk, I realize that I have been on this path all my life growing up as I did in the sixties, becoming a working woman in the seventies and a parent and working mom in the eighties. Along the way I’ve been frustrated, confused, rebellious, sad, furious, exhausted, disappointed and grateful—indeed, finding balance is as complex as our modern lives.

In the early seventies when the promise of the women’s movement lay thick in the air, smart young women thought they would be entering a post-patriarchal society when they went out into the professional world.

 Many were shocked to find that they weren’t welcomed, appreciated or treated as equals in the workplace. With relative dismay they also found that their male peers reverted to a 50s mentality once they stepped off campus and joined the “good ole boy’s club.” It was much more difficult to fight entrenched gender bias than we had ever imagined. And, once career women began having babies, they were totally unprepared for the strong force that motherhood exerts—especially when it is combined with the enormous societal validation of becoming a mom. Even the most liberated women could recognize that motherhood was the one arena where they had authority and control. That was quite intoxicating when combined with the strong biological need to nurture.

Over the years women have been accused of wanting to “have it all” to the detriment of their children, or not being committed enough to work to the detriment of their careers. Companies continue to struggle with the needs of women and families. Women are tired of working the “second shift” after coming home from the office. Exhausted and frustrated, many women drop out to raise their children because they can’t find a balanced approach. Corporations worry about “brain drain” as talented employees “opt out.”

Meanwhile intrepid consultants like Lexington resident Levey are still studying the world of work and family and attempting to drive organizational transformation in Fortune 500 companies. Over the past twenty years Levey has interviewed hundreds of employees and she has heard first-hand the frustrations of women and men who feel stuck and trapped in gendered roles. She has worked with an impressive portfolio of clients from Deloitte to Marriott to help evaluate their workplace culture and policies.

A Long Journey

Levey’s parents had split up by the time she was three. She was the youngest of seven and she had watched her mom exhaust herself caring for the children. Observing her mother had an effect on her although she didn’t know it at the time or for many years. As a kid Lisa didn’t spend much time idealizing family life or dreaming about getting married like most little girls did. Somehow she looked at her mom who she writes “was born in a generation—and in a situation—where he never got to live or to even understand her dreams,” and knew she wanted something different. It began with education and a career.

When Levey had her own children she wanted a more balanced approach to marriage and family—though she admits questioning at the time whether she wanted to have children at all. She had been married to her husband Bryan for nine years before she became pregnant with her first son. When they became parents, they began a journey of putting theory into action, a process that she admits “worked exquisitely” at times and other times “not so well.” The Libra Solution is a systematic approach to co-parenting that she and her husband have evolved over the years. It’s an approach to family life that has allowed them to achieve more balance. Through her book she hopes to inspire those who are interested in a new approach to marriage and parenting. “I don’t want to convince anyone of anything,” she says. “I just want to put it out there in the world as a model that has relevance—that is viable.” Levey invites you to consider this parenting partnership as one possible path through family life. It is a path of “partnership, gender equality, and moderation.”

True Partnership

With all of the craziness of work outside our doors, Levey advises couples to look for ways “in their own homes, in their own lives” to find more balance. The Libra lifestyle is a true partnership model in which both parents are equally responsible for children, housework and financial support of the family. In the Libra model gender does not determine the division of labor at home or at work.

This is a model that won’t work for everyone and Levey is clear about that. Levey cites data around division of labor in the family between dual working couples that indicate most couples still adhere to the traditional gendered model where mom does most of the parenting and most of the housework in addition to holding down a job.

“The people who are attracted to the Libra model have an openness and generosity toward their partner. The wife wants to work so her husband won’t have to shoulder all of the financial responsibility and the husband wants that full partnership both because he wants a close relationship with the children and he also wants to support his wife’s career.” This takes a very confident set of individuals who are willing to push back against expectations.

Levers of Influence

Levey’s book is a deep investigation of workplace cultures, working styles, gender identity and parenting. It invites us to explore our own self-defeating habits and beliefs. Every step of the way she cites pertinent research and insights from her own work and the work of others in the field. Levey says, “A big part of my goal in writing this book was to ask: Where are your levers of influence?” That’s important because in this fast and furious world, it’s easy for all of us to feel that we have no influence—no control over the two forces of home and work. Levey feels that our current way of working is unsustainable.“I think that the rules of engagement have changed,” she says. “We’ve gone a little crazy with this all the time, everywhere availability—it’s just sort of expanded. There’s no container for anything and we don’t spend a lot of time exploring the downside of what we’ve created.”

However, she is still optimistic that employees can work with employers on setting boundaries at work. “There’s a lot of falsehoods out there like working harder is more efficient and being constantly connected makes you more committed,” she says. Levey effectively documents the way in which the drive for increased productivity has created longer and longer work hours and less time for family life. The current business culture too often rewards this excessive behavior that Levey describes as the “ADHD” work style.

While her work has focused on the workplace and its impact on the family dynamic, Levey’s personal takeaways are insightful. Throughout the book she helps to illuminate the ways in which we contribute to our own problems and recommends changes we can make to think and work differently.

Extreme Parenting

Her chapter on “Extreme Parenting” will resonate with many Lexington parents who struggle with the “high-pressure and test-focused approach to public education.” combined with the general climate of “outsized expectations.” Levey explores the lure of electronics and the way they disconnect us from our kids, the plethora of “parenting experts” that make us feel incompetent as parents and escalation of enrichment programs, activities and other programs designed to give our children a competitive advantage. Because women are assigned by society to be primarily responsible for the success or failure of children the anxiety they face as parents is intense.

One of the major goals of the Libra model is to “purposely bring the intensity down” on all fronts—especially in parenting. By enlisting the full participation of dads in the parenting role, women can ratchet down the stress and begin to enjoy their kids. “Getting dads involved right from the beginning, to have time alone with their children where they are totally in charge is a powerful thing.”

But it’s not easy for many women to invite men into their sphere of influence. Just as men have acted as the gatekeepers in the workplace, women, often unconsciously, follow the same practice when it comes to parenting. Being a mother is the one role in society in which women are automatic experts and unquestionably in-charge. Women are validated as mothers in a way that they may have never experienced before—not even on their best day at work!

Of course, just as excluding women from full acceptance in the workplace reinforces gender stereotypes, excluding men from a fuller role in parenting has the same effect. The Libra model advocates for full inclusion on all fronts because it strengthens people—both men and women—and it greatly strengthens families. Implementing this type of arrangement in your life takes trial and error, planning, lots of compromise and sacrifice. To make this lifestyle a reality it is often necessary to negotiate limits with employers and to downsize ambitions at different periods during a typical marriage—especially during the intense child rearing years. In her final chapters Levey extols the benefits of the Libra lifestyle for everyone involved—especially the children.

If you find yourself constantly stressed and pressured, exhausted, grumpy and having no energy to invest in your kids or your relationship, consider reading this book. But don’t think this is a plan that you can implement overnight. Levy compares it to steering the QE2. She advises small steps. But she is ultimately optimistic that work can change and we can change too. “One of the things that happen to couples in this model,” Levey says, “is they see the power of standing together. The couple ends up feeling more empowered charting their own course.” Most of all, Levey says, “I found my way to this and I feel really, really grateful.”

Lisa D’Annolfo Levey is a former senior director of advisory services at Catalyst. She is a recognized expert in the fields of women’s leadership, diversity, and work-life integration. Levey has consulted to some of the most admired organization in the world on women’s leadership and the work-life issues of employees. Clients have included in the United Nations, Exxon Mobil, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, The Campbell Soup Company and UBS, among many others. She lives with her husband and two sons in Lexington.

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Lexington Native Colonel Robert McLaughlin Named Chief Of Staff of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

By Jim Shaw

Lexington native, Colonel Robert F. McLaughlin addresses the audience during the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson change of command ceremony May 10 on Founders Field.

The war in Afghanistan has continued now for about 128 months, making it America’s longest war. While some may argue differently, most accounts have the Vietnam War running about 103 months. The point is, with the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the fracturing of the Taliban base of operations, President Obama is looking now to reduce U.S. forces in Afghanistan and to help train government, military and civilian leaders to ensure Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity. There is light at the end of the tunnel and the Obama Administration has made the peaceful transition of power in Afghanistan a top priority. Toward that end, a Lexington native, Colonel Robert McLaughlin, has been deployed to oversee the reduction of troops and equipment from Afghanistan.

Colonel McLaughlin, a 1981 graduate of Lexington High School, is up for the challenge and is proud to have been selected to lead such an important mission. Having just completed a three-year assignment as garrison commander at Fort Carson in Colorado, McLaughlin will now serve as Chief of Staff of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. This will be his 3rd overseas deployment since the start of the war, and his first deployment to Afghanistan. He previously served as a battalion commander in Iraq in 2007 and 2008.

Just days away from deployment, Colonel McLaughlin shared his thoughts on the mission, reminisced about his days in Lexington and talked about his wife and five kids that will once again see their husband and father head off to war.

McLaughlin explains that his role in overseeing the reduction in forces in Afghanistan is to achieve “balance.” He said, “In the beginning it will be about maintaining balance. We’re working with the Afghans to train police and army personnel We need to ensure the effort is coordinated, balancing the current military needs against the reduction in equipment and forces.”

He continued. “As we draw down forces, we’ll be working to provide training so they can provide security for their people.”

McLaughlin points out very clearly that there is still combat going on in Afghanistan. He said, “We’re still losing soldiers, and this is when the Taliban likes to fight — during the warm season. The challenge for us is to keep up the pressure on the enemy forces as we are begin drawing down.”

 

Colonel Robert F. McLaughlin, right, hands the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson colors to Maj. Gen. Joseph Anderson, commanding general, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, relinquishing command of the garrison during a May

Clearly, it’s a socially and politically volatile region and maintaining a smooth transition is a very tall order. However, in reference to the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by both President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the White House stated, “The Agreement affirms that cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States is based on mutual respect and shared interests. In this Agreement, we commit ourselves to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan. The Agreement is not only a signal of the United States’ long-term commitment to Afghanistan, but it enshrines our commitments to one another and a common vision for our relationship and Afghanistan’s future. U.S. commitments to support Afghanistan’s social and economic development, security, institutions and regional cooperation are matched by Afghan commitments to strengthen accountability, transparency, oversight, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans – men and women.” As Chief of Staff of U.S. Forces, McLaughlin will be at the helm of this transition.

McLaughlin looks at his days in Lexington with nostalgia and good feelings. He pointed to the places he would hang out with his friends and talked about his favorite restaurants, and talked about his family that still calls Lexington home. He was especially animated when I asked him about his Lexington High School experience. He responded immediately with accolades for his basketball coach and his football coach. He said, “I remember like it was yesterday playing for Coach Farias and Coach Tighe. They taught me things about life that I couldn’t learn anywhere else. They taught me about team play and how important it is to support one another on and off the court or the football field. These guys taught me lessons that I still draw from today. I’ll always appreciate them very much.”

McLaughlin also pointed to his Lexington lineage as having profoundly contributed to his military career. He said, “Being from the ‘Birthplace of American Liberty’, I appreciate what it means to stand up for your country. Being from Lexington holds special meaning for me.”

Colonel McLaughlin explained that leaving his family behind is very difficult, but he knows they’ll get the support they need. That’s what the military is all about he explained. Whether your the family of a soldier deployed to combat, or if you’ve lost a loved one at war, Colonel McLaughlin believes strongly that the U.S. military and the public provide great support and inspiration. Colonel McLaughlin’s wife Cindy and their five children — Kevin, Adeline, Katie, Mikey and Rachel — will stay in Colorado at Fort Carson where they have the support of other military families and friends.

Family is a big part of what keeps Colonel McLaughlin going. Just prior to Memorial Day he explained that people should understand that Memorial Day is not only about those killed serving their country, it’s also about the loved ones they leave behind who carry the burden of the loss. He said, “As garrison commander at Fort Carson, one of my duties was to offer support to the survivors of those lost during combat. It’s so important to support the families who are dealing with that kind of loss. One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of during my time as garrison commander was the establishment of the Fallen Heroes Family Center at Fort Carson.”

 

Julie Jerden of Houston and Jen Haugen of Everett, Wash., review portraits on the Wall of Remembrance Oct. 23, inside the Fallen Heroes Family Center at Fort Carson. Jerden and Everett were attending the 3rd Annual National Military Suicide Survivor Seminar and Good Grief Camp at a Cheyenne Mountain resort in Colorado Springs. Hundreds of people attended the seminar, where they shared hardships, searched for answers and connected with others.

The Fallen Heroes Family Center provides Survivor Outreach Services(SOS) for Families of the Fallen. The average person on the street may not fully appreciate the need for such a center, but for those in active duty and especially their families, having this kind of support is essential. Some of the services provided include legal advocacy through JAG on topics like powers of attorney, wills, living wills and trusts. The Fallen Heroes Family Center supports survivors through difficult transitions.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony in 2010, Colonel McLaughlin described the outreach services as caring, committed and survivor-orientated. “We never leave a fallen comrade or their family and this is our commitment to them,” said McLaughlin, . He explained the center supports a five-state area: Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota and Utah.

There are many friends, family members and neighbors here in Lexington who are proud of their association with Robert McLaughlin. After getting reacquainted with the Colonel, I count myself among them.

Best wishes to you Colonel McLaughlin, and all the best for your family as well. Thank you for your service to our country.

 

 
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Drum Roll Please

This summer on a warm Monday evening, don’t be surprised if you see an impromptu parade, complete with a big bass drum, spilling out of the Hancock Church and winding its way through the neighborhood around the Battle Green. It’s most likely the Junior Fife & Drum Corps practicing for their next big event. Made up of students from local schools, the William Diamond Junior Fife & Drum Corps is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year at their annual Tattoo & Muster, May 5th and 6th, at Lexington’s Minuteman National Historical Park.

Right, William Diamond Junior Drum & Fife Corps march in New York City’s 250th St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

By Digney Fignus   |

Most school children in Lexington know the story of William Diamond. He was the little drummer boy at the first battle of Lexington. The actual drum he used is still on display at Lexington’s historic Hancock-Clarke House. I learned about it when I was a student at William Diamond Middle School: “In the clear chill of an early April morning in 1775… Captain John Parker, commanding the Lexington minutemen, directed his drummer boy to go across the road to the Common and beat the call to arms. And when William Diamond, bringing the enthusiasm of his sixteen years to the beating of his gayly emblazoned drum, rolled out the call to the village’s minutemen, the War of the American Revolution began.” – William Diamond’s Drum by Arthur Bemon Tourtellot

The fife is an ancient instrument that has been used by armies since the 16th century. The sound evokes a certain patriotic emotion without fail, and has evolved over time from a rich tradition. Originally called a ‘Schweizerpfeife” or Swiss flute, fifers provided the music the first modern armies marched too. Most often they played popular or traditional songs from the soldiers’ homeland. During the American Revolution, before bugles were used, fifes and drums were an important signaling device to soldiers in the field. In the din of battle, it was almost impossible to hear shouted orders over any distance. Commanders relied on the fifes and drums to beat out particular patterns to signal soldiers to either advance, regroup, or retreat. It had a tremendous advantage because drums and the piercing

Director, Carmin Calabrese at the USS Constitution.

sound of the fife could be heard over a large distance, even as the battle raged. It was from this military background that the original Fife & Drum Corps came into being. In early armies, each company of 100 or so men would be assigned two fifers and two drummers to “sound signals.” When these smaller companies were gathered together into a Regiment or Battalion, all the fifers and drummers would play together in a “band” that would march at the head of a column or parade. Modern Fife & Drum Corps are arranged in a very specific way. Traditionally they march four abreast.

The Corps Color Guard will lead the way, followed by the Drum Major, brandishing a large ceremonial mace. He directs up to 16 fifes (4 rows) followed by one or two rows of “side drums” (snare or field drums, and long drums also called tenor drums). Bringing up the back, are the big bass drums. It’s a heck of a sound when they all get going together, and a little overwhelming to listen in an enclosed space, but on the street out in the open, there is nothing like it. The formation snaps to attention as the Drum Major’s brass-topped mace comes down. The drums start their roll-off to cue the fifes, and all together the Corps takes off into one of about forty different songs that they might perform during a typical parade. Thankfully, there is a rich repository of military and traditional songs that can be drawn upon.

The William Diamond Junior Fife & Drum Corps is celebrating its 10th Anniversary

The Company of Fifers and Drummers, a non-profit in Norton, Connecticut, is the national Mecca for enthusiasts of this type of music. It also publishes “The Company Book” which Fife & Drums Corps everywhere use as a Bible when searching for marching music.

Vincent Canciello bearing the William Diamond Junior Drum & Fife Corps guidon.

Heading up this year’s parade is Drum Major Simon Rubenstein, 16, a sophomore at Lexington High School. He is like the conductor of an orchestra, holding the four-foot ceremonial mace high above his head or swinging it off to the side to signal the precision team’s next move. The mace was a gift to the Junior Drum & Fife Corps. It was presented to them several years ago at the annual Tattoo & Muster by the well-known and long-established Middlesex County Volunteers Fife & Drum Corps from Medford. The veteran group had been so impressed by the Junior Corps performance (who at the time did not have a proper mace) they gave the young band one of their own in a show of respect.

Fife Sergeant Shayna Rubenstein, a 17-year-old senior at Lexington High, leads the fifes. She sets the pace at the head of the fifers at the top right hand corner of the column. Drum Sergeant Joesan Blackington, another 17-year-old senior at Lexington High School, directs the drummers from the center of the drum line. These three important positions are earned through a lot of hard work, so Simon, Shayna, and Joesan naturally take their jobs very seriously.

Marching with the Fife & Drum Corps is a little like rubbing your tummy and patting your head at the same time. Senior Fife Instructor Mark Poirier agrees but adds, “while hopping backwards on one foot.” Not only are you required to have a certain level of proficiency on your instrument, the Senior Corps is also a well-rehearsed drill team (one of the only ones in the country) that incorporates complex marching maneuvers into their performances. Even for young folks, it takes tremendous concentration to play together and manage your instrument while weaving in and out of formation.

The William Diamond Junior Fife & Drum Corps is open to boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 18. You don’t have to live in Lexington or need any musical experience to join. Mark explains, “We are giving them a musical education as well. If a kid doesn’t know how to read music we’ll teach them.” When I was there, Kirea Snell, 10, a 4th Grade student from the Harrington school was taking her first lesson on fife. Her mom waited patiently in the hall as Shayna took Kirea aside and gave her one-on-one instruction on rudimentary fife technique. Within a few minutes you could hear the familiar trill burst forth as Kirea started to get her first sounds out of the ancient instrument. I can’t describe the satisfaction and big smiles on everyone’s faces as Kirea finished up her lesson to enthusiast praises. Getting started is easy, and just takes a small $10.00 investment in a practice fife to learn the basics. Once you are able to master a few simple songs you can graduate to a wooden parade fife and start to participate in some of the marching drills. Drummers can get started with a minimum investment in a pair of sticks, a drum pad, and stand.

The program has a dedicated support staff. I was met by the Corps Clerk and “master of details” Tanya Morrisett, who gave me a quick tour and introduced me around. The Monday rehearsals are a little chaotic, but Board member Susan Rubenstein is another dynamo on the scene keeping things on schedule and getting things done. Lee Caron, the Senior Drum Instructor is a well-known percussionist and a graduate of the Boston Conservatory. He has extensive experience and has been a member of and performed with prestigious groups like The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps 3rd US INF (Escort to the President), and The United States Army Band.

Mark Poirier is the Senior Fife Instructor. A founding member, he has been teaching fife to the Junior Corps since it started. He typically works with the youngest students. Tanya explains, “Mark has a special way of getting the kids to play. He’s extremely patient.” Mark has a simple approach to teaching fife, “I ask them all the same thing: ‘Can you count to seven? Do you know the first seven letters of the alphabet? Do you have ten fingers? Can you tap your foot?’” And in order to get an eight year old to visualize the proper aperture (the way you shape your lips when blowing across the fife; the hardest part about learning how to play), “I tell them to think about a food that they absolutely hate to eat, or a rotten piece of dog food on the tip of their tongue … it’s worked for ten years.”

For a modest $40.00/month, weekly music lessons, custom uniforms, and performance-grade instruments are provided to everyone enrolled in the program. The Junior Corps wears 1775 authentic yeoman fashions, hand sewn by Lexington seamstress Judy Crocker. The Senior Corps jackets, waistcoats, and breeches are the creations of Anita Bausk, another talented seamstress. The Corps even gets a fashion contribution from their Director, Carmin Calabrese, who besides directing rehearsals and contributing his wealth of expertise, has managed to master the art of making a tricorn hat, which makes him the go-to-guy for Revolutionary headgear.

While I was chatting with Tanya, I also got a chance to meet Bill Mix, current Captain Commanding of the Lexington Minutemen, and another one of the founders of the Junior Fife & Drum Corps. In the battle re-enactments Bill plays Captain John Parker, leader of the Lexington rebels. He gets to utter the famous line, “Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here!” The Lexington Minutemen have been doing re-enactments and marching in the Lexington Patriot’s Day parade for as long as I can remember. A veteran of the group, Bill reminisces, “Back then (2002) we didn’t have a band, and for a parade, you have to have music to march to. There wasn’t any program in the schools, so we decided to create our own.” Bill put an ad in the paper and was initially able to recruit about fifteen students from the Lexington schools. He got a few of his fellow Minutemen involved, including Mark and current Director Carmin. Carmin had grown up in the Fife & Drum tradition and has been fifing for 60 years. Mark had also been playing fife for years in a number of area Fife & Drum Corps. Mark says besides having music to march to they wanted to “make fife and drum music the signature sound of Lexington.” They started out rehearsing at Buchman Tavern but Bill, a long-time member of the Hancock Church, persuaded the church to let them

William Diamond Junior Drum & Fife Corps at Colonial Williamsburg.

rehearse the newly formed group in the church’s back hall, where they still rehearse today. The program caught on and has been a terrific success ever since. What’s the attraction? Mark reflects, “It’s a simple thing, but a meaningful thing.” He smiles and adds, “and we get to dress in funny clothes, and go to really interesting places.”

This year, the Junior Fife & Drum Corps has also recorded their first CD, chock full of patriotic songs. The disk should be available by the 10th Anniversary Tattoo and Muster on May 5th and 6th, and it’s just part of the group’s very exciting schedule. The season is stacked with 22 events throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, including Lexington’s 300th Anniversary Opening Ceremonies on September 26th. In addition, the Corps performs at community service events like the annual Opening of the Lexington Town Meeting, Discovery Day (May 26th), the Opening of the Farmer’s Market (May 29th) and the Flag Day Ceremony (June 16th). On top of all that, this summer, the whole group has been invited to represent Lexington and attend the Fife & Drum Corps International Muster, June 28th – July 1st, in Basel, Switzerland. Fife & Drum music originated in Switzerland, so it’s a huge honor to be asked to perform.

Wow, “Lexington Invades Switzerland.” That’s a headline I never expected to see. Best of luck to the William Diamond Junior Fife & Drum Corps, and congratulations on ten years of continuing the tradition!

For more info: www.williamdiamondjrs.org

Colonial Times contributor DIGNEY FIGNUS performs at Nourish Restaurant, 1727 Mass Ave, Lexington Center, Thursday, April 26, 2012, 8:00-10:00PM, NO COVER

 

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Fife and Drum Corps Hosts Annual Tattoo and Muster

April showers bring May flowers and the Revolutionary Revelry May Day celebration saw some of each. Rains delayed the event, but couldn’t dampen spirits. Revelers planted May Day baskets, made paper flowers and enjoyed a traditional May Pole.

En Pleine Aire enjoyed fine weather Saturday as artists and visitors met along the bike path. Artists drew inspiration from local architecture, nature and a few DPW surprises.

The Park Your Art Auction held at the Hadley DPW Building Saturday night highlighted pieces created that day. Eight works were auctioned to a lively crowd. Live jazz and refreshments rounded out the evening.

Proceeds will benefit the construction of Antony Park here in Lexington. The park will be a tribute to the two towns longtime friendship. Several years ago Antony created Place de le Lexington.

The William Diamond Junior Fife and Drum Corps celebrated its 11th Annual Tattoo and Muster on May 4 and 5. Thirty corps from all over the Northeast performed.

On Friday evening there was a short tattoo, followed by a jam session. A tattoo is a small concert featuring select fife and drum corps.

Saturday found the Corps stepping off for a parade from historic Lexington Battle Green to the muster field at Lower Hayden Fields. There visitors enjoyed a day full of music, history, and entertainment. Provincial and British re-enactors set up camp offering a view of 18th century life. Watch for the Corps first CD of traditional Fife and Drum music, 300 Years of Music from the Lexington Green.

For information about the corps and its activities, please visit their website at williamdiamondjrs.org.

 

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Community Center Task Force Debuts New Web Site and Survey

A Community Center for Lexington?
What Do You Think?

The Community Center Task Force wants you to help us think about what a community center could be like and how to make a concept fit Lexington. The committee has been persuaded of the value that a community center could bring to our town; now we need to know what that value looks like to you. You can do this by taking the survey that is on the Community Center Task Force website through June 30.

For many years, Lexington officials and residents have studied and considered building a new senior center and creating a teen center. Now Lexington has decided to change its focus from individualized solutions to investigating a more generalized approach of serving the needs of all of Lexington’s citizens: a community center.

What is a community center? A quick search on the internet finds these descriptions:

  • A building or group of buildings where there are classes and activities for the people who live in a community
  • A place where people from a particular community can meet for social, educational, or recreational activities

While these definitions are certainly thought-provoking, they are also bland and neutral, and necessarily so. The flavor and character of a community are missing, and so is the way each community makes its unique stamp on what it does. No general definition can possibly convey the distinct and very special ways of being … Lexington.

Last summer the Board of Selectmen appointed the Community Center Task Force to develop “…a report about the concept of a community center, including recommendations, to serve the intellectual, physical, and social needs of Seniors, other adults, teens and youth in our community.”

The task force has spent the time since last summer visiting centers in other towns and talking to the leaders of groups, departments and boards in Lexington. We have gathered data on the needs and wishes of various members of our community, and we have created one vision of what a Lexington community center could be. We have imagined that it would be a place for structured and unstructured programming, drop-in activities, citizen-directed offerings, meeting space, centralized information and more. There are so many things a community center could have, limited only by our imaginations. What will make it a true community center, though, is to define a place where seniors, teens and groups of all kinds find something for them.

Once on our website, look at the slide show, read some of the reports, or view the interim report we presented to the Board of Selectmen. But please tell us what you think, what you want, what you need.

 

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Our Chance to Dance!

 

 

Can you picture putting on dancing shoes, heading to the high school, hearing music floating down the halls and joining your neighbors in an 18th century dance? Lexington will be able to do just that during the 300th Anniversary celebration starting this September. The 300th Committee is busy planning three community dances, two at LHS and one at Cary Hall. Community members helping on the 300th Anniversary were able to test run this idea during an April 29th “Meet, Greet & Dance,” a volunteer appreciation evening. At this event, Lexingtonians danced to the music of Eric Eid-Reiner’s band as Andy Taylor-Blenis called and taught 21st century people an array of 18th century dances. Delighted with the results, the Committee is enthusiastically letting people know that everyone will have a turn during the 300th Anniversary. Save the following dates for your 2012-2013 calendar – it’s your turn to dance!

DANCE REVOLUTION 300

Dance Revolution 300 is first in the dance line-up and will take place Saturday, September 22, 2012. Look forward to live music, an amazing DJ, and dance instruction. Starting at 6:30 p.m. at Lexington High School, Lexington residents of all ages are invited to dance the night away. The first part of the evening will feature dance instructors leading New England style folk dances familiar to our colonial era ancestors, as well as the waltz and swing dancing of the 19th and 20th centuries. Kathleen Lenihan, co-chair of the event, anticipates a big crowd. “This is such a wonderful opportunity for all of Lexington to come together to celebrate our tercentennial. With dances from the earliest part of our history through today, there is something for everyone.” At 8:00 pm the DJ will take over, and will play a variety of music – everything from Elvis and the Beatles to Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. In addition to dancing, LexFun will have a craft table with activities just right for preschoolers. There will be a refreshment area with a variety of food and beverages for hungry dancers staffed with volunteers from our PTAs and LexFUN. “The great thing about this dance is that you don’t have to be a ‘pro’ to participate. The instructor-led dances are easy and there’s nothing like dancing to live music. And if you can’t make it until the later part of the evening, everyone can dance to DJ-led tunes,” says Kamala Soparkar, co-chair of the event. Dance Revolution 300 will be a night to remember.

300TH ANNIVERSARY BALL

Joyce Murphy, Chair of the Gala Ball, is excited to confirm Cary Hall as the venue for Saturday November 17, 2012. This is a new date and was changed to secure historic Cary Hall for the special occasion. In addition to being a fun and very festive evening, the Ball will also be an important fundraiser, helping raise money to keep other 300th events affordable. Everyone is looking forward to developing the details for this special night. Some people are already talking about what they want to wear! Contact Joyce Murphy to get involved with the planning.

DANCE AROUND THE WORLD

Co-Chairs Melanie Lin and Geetha Padaki are already lining up participatory multi-cultural dances for their March 16, 2013 event. Invitations have been sent to various groups in town who can lend a hand with instruction. Our town can look forward to learning about the cultural dances that Lexington families treasure. The aim for the dance will be to have all participants up and learning new steps on the dance floor.

As we reach Lexington’s 300th Anniversary of Incorporation, it truly is our chance to dance!

 

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A Personal Connection ~ Making Town Government Work

By Hank Manz  |  About the time I am getting exasperated with Town government, something always happens to restore my faith in it. This Town Meeting season it has been Articles 17, School Bus Transportation Subsidy, and 16(e), White House Stabilization.

The articles worked out differently, it is true, but both were characterized at some point as failures of major boards to lead adequately. The need for Article 17 was laid at the feet of the School Committee while the way Article 16(e) played out was thought to be a failure on the part of the Board of Selectmen.

But that is the magic of Town government. Sometimes things end up exactly as they should.

Transportation of students to schools in private vehicles is out of hand by most accounts. I live in the middle of an elementary school traffic pattern so I know that the increase in school-based traffic is more than just a rumor.

The planning process for the new Estabrook School brought traffic into sharp focus when it was realized that to handle traffic queuing on site might require more than 1,400 feet of roadway. This could lead to widening of access roads, increases in impervious surface, reduction of play space, and other changes, all to handle a twice-a-day problem.

At its core, this was not a school issue. This was a community issue. The schools and the School Committee had an important role and that was to not throw up any roadblocks to a better plan, but making this a purely school issue meant an almost impossible task of assigning priorities.

Can I reasonably expect the School Committee to be able to say that returning foreign language to the elementary schools ranks below a car-related issue? They already have a daunting number of priorities to try to balance. Making them completely responsible for changing the culture surrounding student transportation was, I thought, asking a bit much.

The Selectmen were in the same bind with the White House. Everyone agreed it was an eyesore. But too many conflicting priorities, too little money, too many competing interests, too many projects already in the works, a 300th anniversary coming up, and a citizenry already paying out a goodly share of their income in taxes made it hard for the selectmen to do anything else except what they did which was to vote to indefinitely postpone the article which meant it would remain an eyesore for at least another year. Oh, there had been a suggestion to simply raze the structure or to move it off site, but for many reasons those were never going to fly, at least in my lifetime.

The solution for school transportation—somehow get more students to ride the bus—came from a citizen article proposed by Judy Crocker and backed by various groups like Safe Routes to Schools. Judy has been a leader in the effort to get kids to walk and ride the bus for years. With a survey in hand which indicated that lower bus fees would increase ridership, Article 17 proposed a way to lower those fees. The very much misunderstood funding piece took awhile to grasp, but finally just about everybody realized that we were risking a relatively small amount of money and the money needed would actually decrease if more students rode the bus.

Moreover, a tie to Lexpress could be created which would allow students to take the school bus in the morning and Lexpress in the afternoon. Credit that one to a forward-thinking Town Transportation Coordinator, the Transportation Advisory Committee, and a Board of Selectmen who listened and acted.

The solution for the White House emerged as an amendment to the attempt to indefinitely postpone the article. That would have meant no funding for the external stabilization of the building, but the Capital Expenditures Committee disagreed and proposed going ahead with the work against the wishes of the Selectmen. Both the amendment and the article passed with votes to spare so by this time next year, I will not have to wince every time I go to the Farmers Market or walk to the Senior Center.

For both school transportation and making the White House less of an eyesore, the public, acting through Town Meeting, accepted both problems as community problems and took the steps necessary to address them.

The underlying plans supporting both articles were not seat-of-the-pants efforts. Both were backed by extensive preparation and well thought out plans. Moreover, in both cases we now know there is an acceptance of broad responsibility for the article. Instead of one board standing up to push for passage of an article, in both cases a much larger group has said that they will help make things happen. With anything you do in Town government you hope that is the case, but it is gratifying to see a demonstration of that fact.

I understand that you may not agree with the solution in either case, but it is the process I am interested in. Boards have responsibilities which can get in the way of solutions so every now and then outside help is needed. I was impressed this year that in an orderly and, dare I say it, collegial, way that outside help weighed in and was heard. The funny thing is that this has actually increased my appreciation for the problems boards must deal with and how important demonstrations of acceptance of responsibility are.

Boards still have to do most of the heavy lifting they were elected to do, but it is nice to know that there really are checks and balances in place and sometimes they even work.

 

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Lexington Symphony Receives Nea Grant

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced today that Lexington Symphony is one of 96 not-for-profit organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant in the highly-competitive music category. Lexington Symphony has been awarded $10,000 for its celebrated educational program, Orchestrating Kids Through ClassicsTM.

Orchestrating Kids Through ClassicsTM, a creative introduction to the history of music, began in 2009 with funding from the Lexington Education Foundation, reaching all Lexington third grade students that year. Additional corporate and state support allowed the program to grow, and this year nearly 3,000 elementary students attended from towns from all around the Boston area and the state, including Lawrence, Dorchester, Framingham, Wilmington, Burlington, Arlington and Medford. NEA funding will allow Lexington Symphony to expand Orchestrating Kids Through ClassicsTM and bring even more children to hear this singular program.

The NEA Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, encourages public engagement through diversity, stimulates lifelong learning in the arts, and strengthens communities.

“Funding from the NEA puts us on a national stage and shows we’ve met a high bar for artistic excellence, innovation, and public engagement,” says Rebecca Hawkins, Lexington Symphony violinist and grantwriter. “We are very, very proud to receive this endorsement.” Hawkins adds, “As musicians, we love Orchestrating Kids because it reaches students from all different communities and gets them thinking about classical music in an exploring, unconventional way — they are inspired to try out new sounds, new ideas, a new instrument.”

Orchestrating Kids Through Classics starts with a visit by four Lexington Symphony musicians to each elementary school, where the musicians engage the students in smaller groups and prepare them for the field trip to the big orchestra concert. The concerts take place in town halls – Cary Memorial Hall in Lexington and Nevins Hall in Framingham. More intimate than huge concert halls, the venues allow the students to experience the orchestra up close and in buildings that are central to the life of the community.

At the concert, Music Director Jonathan McPhee takes the audience on a tour of the orchestra from its very beginnings 500 years ago through present-day Star Wars, with creative flourishes along the way, including chanting monks, a virtuoso student performer, and an appearance by Darth Vader.

The children often arrive with no preconceived ideas about or experience with classical music and love it. As one student wrote, “The music was awesome, I wish I could go again…You guys convinced me to play an instrument.” Parents love it too. Lexington mom Jennifer Lawrence writes that she “was absolutely amazed by the program’s ability to introduce kids to the history of music in such a compelling way,” adding, “My daughter was completely entranced!”

The next Orchestrating Kids Through Classics series runs from December 2012 through February 2013. School reservations are available now; visit www.lexingtonsymphony.org for information.

Lexington Symphony is a group of dedicated professional musicians who share a passion for music and for exacting standards of performance. The symphony is directed by Maestro Jonathan McPhee, one of the leading musical figures in New England. The symphony season runs from September through June with seven ticketed concerts, community outreach programs, and a dedicated education program for the next generation of musicians, including Orchestrating Kids Through ClassicsTM.

 

 

 

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