Wednesday, August 17 at 5:00 PM (EST) Churchill at War on the Nile PDr. James Muller
The River War, Winston Churchill's second book, describes the reconquest of the Sudan from the Islamist regime of the Dervishes by an Anglo-Egyptian army commanded by General Herbert Kitchener, 1896-99. Churchill participated in the campaign as an officer and a war correspondent, charging with the cavalry at the climactic battle of Omdurman. His book, published in two volumes in 1899, is the most impressive of five books he wrote before he entered Parliament in 1901 at the age of 26. After 32 years of work, Professor James W. Muller has edited the definitive edition of the book, published by St. Augustine's Press, which won the 2021 Literary Award from the International Churchill Society. Professor Muller will tell the story of preparing the new edition and speak about the significance of the book for understanding Churchill's thoughts on empire, war, race and religion.
If you or your Branch would like to register for virtual access, we encourage you to do so. Branches who opt for virtual access can submit a greeting that will be played for all attendees during the gala.
Individual Virtual Access to the Program: $100
Listing in all print and online materials
Virtual access to the program portion of the evening
Branch Virtual Access to the Program: $1,000
Listing in all print and online materials
Virtual access to the program portion of the evening
Pre-recorded greeting from the Branch
Full Page, Full Color Ad in Program $1,000
Listing in program as Patron Ad specifications upon request.
Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, will be in New York City to take part in the ESU Gala that evening. The Gala will be held both in person at the Cosmopolitan Club of New York and virtually on Zoom, so that all of you can participate, even when travel to New York is not practical.
This moment has been long in coming – the last visit by a member of the Royal Family was in 1989 when Prince Philip was the guest of honor at an ESU gala at the Plaza. And this will be the first time the ESU has had the privilege of hosting The Princess Royal.
To those of you who have already bought tickets – big thank you for staying with us! And to those of you who have not registered yet, please do so soon. There are a limited number of tables and individual tickets available. You can also sign up to attend the event virtually. I look forward to seeing many of you on October 3.
Now that I have made the big announcement, I will get back to initial purpose of this letter – the account of my extraordinary month of June at the ESU.
The virtual event brought us together to mark this historic milestone and salute Her Majesty for all the years of service she has given to the people of the United Kingdom and the entire world. Members of the ESU New Orleans Branch joined me and Michael at our country residence in Pass Christian, Mississippi, to take part in the festivities in person.
I commend the ESU staff for creating an uplifting and joyful program that befitted the occasion.
Among the highlights was the unveiling of the painting "Morning Light" by renowned artist Lorraine Villere, who donated it to the ESU on the occasion of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Ms. Villere, who joined our gathering in Mississippi, shared the significance of her exquisite painting of bluebells, Britain's most iconic flower. The painting is prominently displayed on the main floor the ESU House. Please, stop by the ESU when you are in New York – you'll be proud to see this and other beautiful pieces of art at our headquarters.
ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper and artist Mrs. Lorraine Villere talk about the inspiration for her painting "Morning Light" (in the background).
High-school student Taylor White read her poem "A love Song from the Sky" that won the first Modern Troubadour Competition, part of the new ESU National Shakespeare Writing Program. The program seeks to engage students who express their love of Shakespeare through creative and analytical writing.
Taylor White, New York Branch, student of Leslie Kohn at Scholars' Academy won the ESU 2022 Modern Troubadour Competition with her free-form poem "A Love Song from the Sky" based on Shakespeare's sonnets 3, 18, 105 and 116.
We also participated in the Queen's Green Canopy – a unique tree planting initiative to mark Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee by "Planting a Tree for the Jubilee." Both ESU New York and our party in Mississippi proudly showed off our trees.
The ESU national staff planting an Eastern Redbud as part of the Queen's Green Canopy.
I encourage you to plant a tree this year. By putting a seed in the ground, we improve our environment and our lives. And what better reason to do it than in honor of Her Majesty!
The event ended with my performance of Duke Ellington's The Queen's Suite. Duke Ellington composed the album of six pieces in honor of Queen Elizabeth after meeting her in 1958. I invite you to listen to it – it is a beautiful and very intimate expression of the Duke's admiration for the young Queen. The recording is a tribute to Her Majesty for her extraordinary reign.
ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper performs Duke Ellington's The Queen's Suite accompanied by Steven Ray Artists Jazz Band.
That was only the start of a whirlwind month of travel – to Louisville, KY; Greenwich, CT; Boston, MA; and New York City to participate in Branch Platinum Jubilee festivities and other events.
My first stop was in Louisville, KY, to attend the ESU Kentucky Branch's Mad Hatter's Tea Party on June 5, 2022. The Branch President, Ms. Kate Nitzken, Branch Board and members welcomed me warmly to their wonderful celebration that blended tradition and generous hospitality and showcased the Branch's charitable programs. It was graciously hosted by ESU member and philanthropist Mr. Lowry Rush Watkins, Jr. at Oxmoor Woods Farm, a landmark estate just outside Louisville and home to five generations of the Bullitt family, of which Mr. Watkins is a descendent.
We delighted in the voices of Sacred Heart Madrigal Singers. We enjoyed the performance of the ESU Kentucky Branch Shakespeare Competition Winner and national Third Place Winner, Kathuure Miriti. And we cheered the six scholars selected to receive scholarships to universities and programs in the U.K.
The ESU Kentucky Branch 2022 scholarship winners: (from left) Rayleigh Deaton, Elizabeth Ewing, Elayne Harrington, Katie Blackerby Weible, and Rebecca Hibbard. Photo by Sarah Herron Photography
The ESU Kentucky Branch is noted for its scholarship program for teachers and college students. I was amazed to learn that since 1960, ESU Kentucky has awarded over 528 scholarships. They have been made possible by generous contributions from local philanthropists and Branch members. These funds are managed judiciously to provide support for the scholarships in perpetuity.
There was also a touching moment when we honored former Branch President O. Grant Bruton, Esq. with the inaugural ESU Kentucky Branch Scholar Champion Award. Mr. Bruton had a special bond with the ESU. He was the first ESU Secondary School Exchange scholar from the ESU Kentucky Branch. After that formative experience, he graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School and went on to have a long and influential career as a lawyer. Mr. Bruton passed away less than a month after our event, on July 7, 2022. He will be missed.
ESU Kentucky Branch President Kate Nitzken, Events Chair Lynn Smith, Co-Vice President Sylvia Bruton, ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper, Mr. Joe Nitzken (seated). Mrs. Bruton receives the inaugural ESU Kentucky Branch Scholar Champion Award on behalf of her husband, O. Grant Bruton, Esq. Photo by Sarah Herron Photography
On June 12, I found myself at the Belle Haven Club in Greenwich, CT. Commanding spectacular views on Long Island Sound, it was the perfect setting for the ESU Greenwich Branch's Queen's Jubilee and 96th Birthday celebration.
I was there at the kind invitation of ESU benefactor and President of the Greenwich Branch Mrs. Natalie Pray, who for years has been the force behind the Branch's active social calendar and charitable programs. Mrs. Pray's annual Queen's birthday parties are legendary for their elegance and refinement. This year's celebration was especially memorable, marking both Her Majesty's 96th birthday and her 70 years on the throne.
ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper (center) with ESU Greenwich Branch members (from left): Michael Brown, Louisa Greene, Janie Galbreath and Michael Galbreath at the ESU Greenwich Branch's celebration of the Queen's 96th birthday and Platinum Jubilee. Image: The Greenwich Sentinel
Champagne, exquisite tea sandwiches and chocolate desserts lifted everyone's spirits. Then, we enjoyed the performance of ESU Greenwich Shakespeare Competition contestant Machiavelli Merkle-Ward of one of Shakespeare's most famous soliloquies – Macbeth's "Is this a dagger which I see before me…"
ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich, who also attended the party, noted that "the educational programs have always been at the heart of the ESU. And our Greenwich Branch exemplifies the best of the best under the leadership of President Natalie Pray, and the amazing work of the Board and program coordinators." It was rewarding to learn later that the Greenwich Sentinel reported on the event with a full-page story complete with photos.
ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich (right) presents ESU Greenwich National Shakespeare Competition contestant Machiavelli Merkle-Ward (left) with a gift, a teddy bear named Will, after William Shakespeare. ESU Greenwich president Natalie Pray (center) is holding a flower bouquet for Machiavelli. ESU Greenwich Branch's celebration of the Queen's 96th birthday and Platinum Jubilee. Image: The Greenwich Sentinel
The following weekend, June 19, I flew to Boston for the ESU Boston Branch's Platinum Jubilee Luncheon Buffet and Champagne Reception. There, too, I was joined by Ms. Karpowich and cordially received by Branch President Mr. Paul Boghosian and his members.
Held at the historic Lyman Estate in Waltham, MA, the celebration was the culmination of the Branch's busy spring schedule. The ESU Boston Branch managed to host a number of live events this spring when so many other organizations failed to do so. Big thanks go to Mr. Boghosian and the Branch Board, who guided ESU Boston in overcoming the pandemic's impact.
ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper, ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich, ESU Boston Branch National Shakespeare Competition winner Marlie Kass and ESU Boston Branch President Paul Boghosian. Photo by Robert Pushkar
On the program was a toast to the Queen by the UK's Consul-General in Boston, we listened to an engaging lecture on Queen Elizabeth's place among history's greatest monarchs, and we delighted in the performance of the Boston Branch's 2022 Shakespeare Competition Winner, Marlie Kass.
ESU Chairman Dr. Quinn Peeper, ESU Executive Director Karen Karpowich, ESU Boston Branch National Shakespeare Competition winner Marlie Kass and ESU Boston Branch President Paul Boghosian. Photo by Robert Pushkar
ESU Boston Branch National Shakespeare Competition winner Marlie Kass. Photo by Robert Pushkar.
My peripatetic month of June ended in New York. There was, of course, the scheduled meeting of the National Board. But what I was truly excited about – and I know the other Board members share my sentiment – were the events at our Headquarters that made the trip to New York all the more worthwhile.
On June 23, ESU members, teachers and students joined us in person and online to celebrate our volunteers: the dedicated, big-hearted people who enrich our programs and help advance the ESU mission. The event spotlighted one of the ESU's most impactful programs, English in Action, which pairs volunteer native English speakers with English language learners for weekly conversations.
ESU Immigrant Programs Director, Rona Weitz speaking at the "Celebrating Volunteerism" Event.
And, on the following day, at an intimate reception in the Garden Lounge of the ESU House, we raised a toast to H.E. Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill CBE, for his new title of Chairman Emeritus awarded by the ESU Board of Directors in recognition of his six remarkable years as Chairman.
H.E. Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill accepts his new title of ESU Chairman Emeritus.
Dear friends, now you know why I call it my extraordinary month of June at the ESU. I met old friends and made new ones, visited amazing places full of history and beauty, and witnessed first-hand the impact of our Branches' amazing work. I thank Ms. Kate Nitzken, Mrs. Natalie Pray, Mr. Paul Boghosian, Ms. Karen Karpowich and the ESU staff, and all ESU members in Kentucky, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York for making me feel so welcome.
And I was reminded, again and again, of the true spirit of the English-Speaking Union – the spirit of fellowship, generosity and dedication to the English language's rich cultural heritage that brings us together. I hope you will continue to be a part of it.
Please renew your membership, and, if you are not a member yet, join the English-Speaking Union. Register for the October 3 Gala in the presence of the Princess Royal – a once-in-a-lifetime occasion to receive Her Royal Highness' accolades for your hard work and dedication. And sign up for the 2022 Annual General Conference in Charleston, S.C. to enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow members and chart the future of our organization.
I will write my next letter to you in September because August should be a time for all of us to rest and recharge. Until then, I wish you a healthy and enjoyable summer.
Join us for the 2022 ESU Annual Conference in Charleston, South Carolina
our first in-person Annual Conference since 2019
The English-Speaking Union welcomes its members to Charleston, South Carolina, for the 2022 ESU Annual Conference. The conference, under the theme of "Setting the Stage for Growth," will cover diverse and enriching approaches for organizational growth in the ESU's second century of programming. The conference program will include the ESU 2022 Annual General Meeting, social events, including receptions and meals, breakout sessions, panel discussions and local tours. We invite you to partake in the camaraderie and help us to advance our programs that support teachers, students and recent immigrants.
In just a short week, we start a new program year at the English-Speaking Union. With this letter, I invite you to renew your membership, and if you are not a member yet, to join our organization.
The past two long years of pandemic isolation posed extraordinary challenges to both our Branch and National programs. And yet, thanks to our members' loyalty and support, our work continued – from the virtual National Shakespeare Competition, to the online Happy Hour and Evelyn Wrench lectures, to the remote English classes and conversations for our immigrant students.
You stayed with us during the hard times.
It should be a much easier decision to continue your ESU membership now when we can again fully experience the pleasure of meeting old friends and making new ones, of being challenged by interesting ideas and stimulating experiences, of engaging in a dialogue with people from around the world.
You, our members, are the English-Speaking Union. Your support enables the ESU's nationwide activities that will be back in person this year:
Any moment we expect to hear about the new date of HRH Princess Anne's visit to New York City and the ESU Gala in her presence.
In November, we will all gather in Charleston, South Carolina, for the 2022 ESU Annual General Conference. Thought-provoking working sessions and a series of wonderful social events – receptions, tours, and lectures – will show us the true meaning of Southern hospitality.
In April 2023, we will mark the 40th anniversary of the ESU National Shakespeare Competition with a spectacular weekend-long in-person program for all Branch winners in New York City. A festive reception will welcome all of you to the celebration.
The Evelyn Wrench Speaker Series will resume in-person lectures by renowned thinkers from the U.K. and U.S.
The ESU Travel and Learn Abroad Program (TLab for Lifelong Learners) will be back with stimulating educational experiences in the U.K.
And finally, you are always welcome at the ESU Headquarters in New York City and at Dartmouth House in London – the seat of our sister organization, the ESU of the Commonwealth.
Your membership dues also underpin your Branch events – stimulating speaker programs, holiday receptions, special luncheons, film presentations, book discussions, and myriad activities that make participation in the ESU so rewarding.
I would be remiss, though, if I don't also invite you to join the ESU National Patron Program.
The generous membership gifts of the ESU National Patrons bolster some of the ESU's most revered programs, such as the ESU National Shakespeare Competition, the Secondary School Exchange, and the Evelyn Wrench Speaker Series.
More importantly, since up to half of the Patron membership gifts go back to the Patron's Branch, it strengthens Branch activities and programs, too – from sponsoring a TLab Scholar, to sending a student to the National Shakespeare Competition, to supporting your local charities, to hosting in-person events for the first time in over two years.
And we all know how important strong Branches are for the ESU's future.
Our National Patrons enjoy special benefits as a recognition of their elite status. Patron privileges, including discounts and exclusive events in the U.S. and the U.K., make joining the ESU National Patron Program even more worthwhile.
Let me mention just a few highlights.
The 2022 Annual General Conference in Charleston, South Carolina, November 11-13, will give us an opportunity to spotlight our Patrons' contributions and thank them for their support.
The traditional Patron Reception will be especially memorable. It will feature acclaimed author Susan Sully, who will share with our Patrons her passion and curiosity about Charleston's unique architecture and design traditions. A signed copy of her latest book, The Allure of Charleston, will be our thank-you gift to the ESU National Patrons.
We are also bringing back the National Patron-exclusive tours. The first will be an once-in-a-lifetime voyage through Elizabethan England in the summer of 2023 that will celebrate the ESU National Shakespeare Competition's 40th anniversary.
Dear friends, a new membership year starts on July 1 and I sincerely hope that you will renew and even upgrade to National Patron status, if you are not already a Patron.
And remember: whether joining as a regular member or a National Patron, you will be part of a venerable organization that for a century has pursued the noble mission of expanding minds, strengthening friendships and expanding opportunities through the power of the English language.
Wednesday, June 29th at 5:00 PM (EDT) ESU Members Sharing... Our favorite Sonnets, Verses, Poems, & Prose With Dr. Susan Sinclair
Oh literature, oh the glorious Art, how it preys upon the marrow in our bones. It scoops the stuffing out of us and chucks us aside. Alas! –D.H. Lawrence
Join our next ESU Happy Hour as members share their favorite poems, sonnets, verses, or flash fiction*. We all have our favorite verses or memorable poems and members and guests from branches across the U.S. will share their favorites.
Long-time ESU member, Dr. Susan Sinclair, will lead this special Happy Hour program, Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at 5:00 pm EDT. This is a free program for all ESU members and guests. Invite your friends to join us.
Please submit your favorite poem, verse, sonnet, or flash fiction* (prose).
Limit of 500 words or less
You may choose from your favorite author, or you may compose your own piece.
You will be reading your submission at the Happy Hour, so, practice, practice, and practice.
Deadline for submissions: Tuesday, June 21
We will select as many submissions as time permits.
We will notify you by email on June 23rd if your submission is selected.
If you want to submit, click both Submit.
If you just want to attend and watch the Happy Hour, click Register.
Steven Ray Artists Jazz Band
The Queen's Suite
By Duke Ellington
About the Performance
Duke Ellington composed The Queen's Suite in 1958 after meeting Queen Elizabeth during his
command performance for the Royal Family at the Leeds Festival. Upon his return to the U.S. he
wrote an album of six pieces dedicated to her. After recording the suite at Columbia Studios, he
felt that the album was too personal and refused to release it publicly. He reimbursed Columbia
Records for the production costs and gave the Queen the only copy, a master gold disc. No one
outside Ellington's inner circle knew of The Queen's Suite until two years after his death in 1974.
It was released posthumously and in 1976 won a Grammy.
With thanks to all registrants to the postponed ESU Gala in the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal for their support and patience while we work with Her Royal Highness' office on rescheduling the event.
Contribute to the Event!
Join in on the celebration by sharing a photo or video toasting the Queen or planting a tree as part of the "Queen's Green Canopy". Please submit no later than August 30th.
Videos submitted should be no longer than 2 minutes.
Purchase tickets for the raffle!
Enter for a chance to win a haul of commemorative goodies! Five prizes will be awarded!
An official Jubilee Mug, an array of books by ESU Wrench Speakers, the ESU Cenntenial scarf and pocket square, official vintage Royal memorabilia from the ESU's personal collection, among other things!
I ended my April letter to you with a wish – I wished that after more than two years of pandemic isolation, we would get to see each other face-to-face. I wished that we would get to delight again in the experiences that drew us to the English-Speaking Union in the first place: the exciting learning opportunities, stimulating cultural exchanges, rewarding social interactions and the sense of personal satisfaction from the impact of our generosity on others.
That's why I am delighted to share with you the great news that the English-Speaking Union is moving steadily to in-person programs and activities.
Thanks to your big-heartedness and no quarantine restriction, the ESU TLab (Teachers Learning Abroad) has gone from sending three teachers in the summer of 2021 to 39 teachers this summer to the UK to attend professional development courses at the University of Oxford, the Shakespeare's Globe and the University of Edinburgh. Scholarships from 11 Branches and personal contributions will enable these teachers to study with leading scholars, writers and public figures and seize unique opportunities to connect with colleagues from a range of nations and professional backgrounds.
Big thanks to the ESU Central Florida, Charlottesville, Denver, Greenwich, Kentucky, Los Angeles, Palm Beach, New Orleans, North Carolina Research Triangle, New York and Richmond Branches for supporting our teachers!
Our other educational and international scholarship programs have also returned to in-person programming this year. The 2021-2022 Luard Morse Scholar, Mr. George Pratt, a junior from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, is already deep in study at the University of Manchester, where he continues his education in religion, history, and oratory.
While in the UK, George has been actively involved with the ESU of the Commonwealth, judging local debates as well as the ESU Churchill Public Speaking Competition Grand Final in Cambridge and the International Public Speaking Competition.
A total of nine ESU Secondary School Exchange (SSE) students are just finishing up their 2021-22 academic year in the US and UK, with more SSE students planning to cross the Pond for the 2022-23 academic year. And the ESU Middle School Debate Program held its first in-person championship since the pandemic on April 30, 2022 at the Dalton School in New York. 90 students were thrilled to spend a full day together, vigorously debating tough topics such as "Children under 14 should not use smartphones," "The US should implement compulsory voting in general elections," and "Abolish the Olympic Games."
As I announced in my previous letter, at long last, the ESU 2022 Annual General Conference will be held in-person November 11-13, 2022, generously hosted by the ESU Charleston Branch. Under the theme, "Setting the Stage for Growth," the conference program will center on consultant, Reverend Renee LiaBraaten's study on how to expand participation in the ESU. Rev. LiaBraaten will work throughout the summer with a diverse group of Branch leaders, Members, volunteers and others to discern pathways for growth at the Branch and National levels.
We've secured the perfect location for the conference – the historic Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. Originally built in 1853, the Mills House, otherwise known as "The Pink Hotel," retains most of its exterior design and historic details and combines the charm of 19th-century Charleston with contemporary indulgence. A prime example of historical tenacity and modern renewal, the Mill House will provide a fitting – and symbolic – setting for our Annual General Conference, during which we will chart a path for our century-old organization toward a growing membership and vibrant Branches.
We need this conversation now more than ever before because you – our members and volunteers – are the pillars of the English-Speaking Union. Without you, the ESU would not exist.
Volunteerism has always been at the heart of our organization. A great example is the ESU's English in Action (EiA) program. One of our most admired endeavors, EiA has been welcoming newcomers to the United States since 1976. It pairs volunteer native English speakers with English language learners for weekly one-to-one conversation sessions. Our volunteers offer students the gift of fluency and knowledge about life in the U.S., all the while engaging in a stimulating interaction with people from different countries. The program truly epitomizes the English-Speaking Union's purpose of fostering understanding and bonds between cultures and people through the power of the English language.
Over the past year, we launched a small but promising pilot project to expand EiA beyond its original home base in the New York area. English in Action Across America pairs students from New York with volunteers from Branches across the country for weekly conversations via Zoom. The students are thrilled to meet ESU members outside New York and the volunteers report a deep feeling of satisfaction and intellectual motivation by interacting with English learners from the four corners of the earth.
To recognize our volunteers and encourage others to be as generous with their time and talent, we're dedicating the annual celebration of the ESU Immigrant Services Programs to our volunteer tutors. During the "Volunteerism: Engage, Educate and Empower" event on Thursday, June 23 from 4:30 - 6:00 pm EST, we will celebrate the impact of volunteerism on the lives of both students and volunteers. We will recognize our volunteers' talent and generosity by highlighting examples of their creativity, collaboration and dedication. It will be a hybrid event – both in-person and broadcast on Zoom, so that all of you can participate, even when travel to New York is not practical. I hope you will join us for this special evening. Come and get inspired to bring the spirit of volunteerism back to your Branch!
Dear friends, to quote Leo Tolstoy: "Spring is the time of plans and projects." And I invite you to join us as we make plans for the ESU's future and set them in motion. Take part in the upcoming celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee on June 3. Salute our volunteers on June 23. Attend events at your Branch and renew your ESU membership in July. Spare some time to provide input into Rev. LiaBraaten's study and come to the 2022 AGM, November 11-13 in Charleston, SC. You are the English-Speaking Union – there is no path forward without you.
And if there is anything you'd like to share with me – a question or a comment, an idea, criticism or praise – please write to me directly at email@example.com.
I'd love to hear from you.
With best regards,
National Board of Directors
The English-Speaking Union of the United States
The ESU expresses solidarity with the victims and communities affected by the horrific shooting in Buffalo last weekend. We are resolutely opposed to hate, racism and white supremacy in all forms. In the wake of this shocking event, we reaffirm our commitment to global understanding and goodwill. Our education programs educate and empower immigrants, educators and students and promote civil discourse and open dialogue among diverse groups. We will continue to work towards a future in which hate has no place.
April is Shakespeare's month at the English-Speaking Union. For the past thirty-nine years, the ESU National Shakespeare Competition has brought together high school students, their families and teachers, and ESU members in Branches across the country for a celebration of the Bard's lasting literary legacy. The Competition has endured for nearly forty years because of its transformative effects on the young participants and the profound feeling of satisfaction and delight it instills in all of us who support it.
This year was no exception. Forty-three Branches sent their best contestants to the virtual semi-finals and I hear from the judges that they were hard-pressed to select the top ten from among so many outstanding performers. The Finals on the afternoon of April 25thwere broadcast live and attended by nearly 300 ESU members, teachers and parents.
Watch the Recorded Competition!
I am delighted to announce that the winner of the 2022 English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition is Sasha Fedderly (ESU New York) with runners-up, Roxanna Beebe-Center (ESU Charlottesville) in second place and Kathuure Miriti (ESU Kentucky) in third place. I am sure you will enjoy the performance videos from all contestants and the announcement of the 2022 ESU National Shakespeare Competition and People's Choice Award winners on the ESU website.
I thank all of you for your support of the ESU National Shakespeare Competition and all other ESU programs and activities. Without your participation as members and volunteers, the ESU would not exist. The ESU's time-tested culture and traditions have wisely relied on you having a strong interest and voice in the future of our Union.
That's why, on behalf of the ESU Board of Directors, I've invited the Reverend Renee LiaBraaten to lead us this summer in a conversation about our aspirations for strong and vibrant Branches. Reverend LiaBraaten has decades of experience working with congregations and other charitable organizations on successfully moving forward in the midst of a rapidly changing cultural and societal context.
The ESU Board and I believe that such a conversation is timely and much needed. The past three years posed extraordinary challenges to our organization and undermined the progress we had made toward strengthening our Branches and membership. The Covid-imposed isolation has been antithetical to the ESU's spirit, which is grounded in human interaction, in people meeting each other face to face and across borders. With the pandemic receding and members getting together in person again, it is time to look to the future.
You may remember Renee from a few years back, when we worked with her on our Centennial campaign. Her seminal report informed our decision to bring back into focus the ESU'sessence of a membership organization.
This time, Renee, supported by Executive Director Karen Karpowich and her staff, will work with a diverse group of stakeholders including Branch leaders, members, volunteers, and beneficiaries of our programs to discern pathways to growth at the Branch and national levels. Titled "Setting the Stage for Growth," this work will result in a state-of-the-union report that will outline the process for expanding participation in the ESU. Renee will work with us throughout the summer so that the report is ready for the 2022 ESU Annual General Conference.
And I am thrilled to announce that finally, after three years of Covid, we will meet in person November 11-13 for the 2022 ESU Annual General Conference. It will be hosted most graciously by the ESU Charleston Branch in charming Charleston, South Carolina.
Under the same theme of "Setting the Stage for Growth," the 2022 Annual General Conference will give us an opportunity to review Reverend LiaBraaten's report and use it as a springboard for what I hope will be a productive discussion about the ESU's path forward to a growing membership and dynamic Branches.
And, in closing, I would like to reassure you that we are in close contact with Buckingham Palace about setting the date for the rescheduled Gala in the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. Her Royal Highness' office is working on a date for us between late September 2022 and early January 2023. We will be in touch as soon as the plans firm up.
In the meantime, while we await The Princess Royal's visit, I invite you to join us on June 3 for a special event that marks Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee.
The event will feature a recording of my performance of Duke Ellington's The Queen's Suite, an album of six wonderful jazz pieces the Duke dedicated to Her Majesty after meeting her in 1958. During our June 3 Platinum Jubilee celebration, the recording will be offered as a gift (a lagniappe, as we say in Louisiana) to all registered Gala attendees with our gratitude for their support and patience.
Dear friends, better times are up ahead. The pandemic is in retreat, we are getting to see each other's smiles again, and there will be many great occasions to mark. Our Union endured through the Covid pandemic with fortitude and grace, the way it prevailed over innumerable challenges throughout its century-long history. As we celebrate what we have, let's look forward with optimism to the future.