ESU Syracuse Branch
A Message from the Syracuse Branch President
Established in 1948, The Syracuse Branch of the English-Speaking Union is a very active group. Our programs reflect our members who are spirited, thoughtful and concerned about intercultural and international communications. They share a genuine interest in people and community affairs. The Syracuse Branch meets the second Saturday of each month - September through May - at a private club.
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News And Events
Upcoming Programs, Spring 2023
New York's Canal System
Speaker: Shane Mahar, NYS Canal Corporation
Speaker: Matt Phillips, Shakespeare Competition Advisor, Jamesville-Dewitt High School
Behind the Lens
Speaker: Les Rose, Broadcast Journalist
Renewing the West Side
Speaker: Shynique Gainey, Manager, Pathfinder Bank
Our 75th Year Celebration
Conducting Speaker: Christian Capocaccia, Artistic Director, Syracuse Opera Company and Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton
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ESU December 2022 Meeting
December 2022 Meeting
A record number of attendees enjoyed our December luncheon and meeting. We were fortunate to have four members of the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble as our guests. Director J.T. (James) Spencer gave an informative introduction about brass bands in general and the SU Brass Ensemble in particular.
We learned that brass bands came into popularity in the United States after the Civil War, and any town of importance had its own band. Dr. Spencer, a chemistry professor at SU, explained not only the history of the bands but the science of brass instruments.
SU's ensemble consists of 35 members who are faculty, staff, and students at the University, along with Upstate Medical Center, and other musicians from Upstate New York.
We were treated to a holiday performance that included Dr. Spencer, along with Gary LaPointe, Professor of Supply Chain Practice; William Abdullah, SU graduate and area pharmacist; and Dickson Rothwell. A particular crowd-pleaser was a rendition of "Jingle Bells," with an added section written specifically for tuba.
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November 12th ESU Meeting
"Wonderful" was the word used to describe Gareth Fisher's talk at the Syracuse Branch's November luncheon meeting, especially among those who had visited or even lived in China for some time.
Fisher was introduced to the attendees by member Dorianne Parker.
Fisher, an Associate Professor in the Religion Department at Syracuse University, has closely tracked the growing interest in Buddhism since the repressive Communist regime which has made it the largest officially recognized religion in China today.
Fisher's audience obviously appreciated his firsthand reporting of practices in China today, those officially allowed as well as those conducted by lay practitioners without the State's sanction.
In response to questions, Fisher also updated the situation in Tibet, especially for those who had met the Dalai Lama.
Fisher co-edited "Buddhism After Mao: Negotiations, Continuities and Reinventions" and is currently working on another book.
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ESU Meetings Fall 2022
The Syracuse chapter of the English-Speaking Union has enjoyed dynamic speakers and each others' company this fall. The September meeting featured Rick Bunting, known as the "Roadside Naturalist." He enjoys sharing his love of nature (especially birds) through his photography and lectures.
Prior to showing us all how to follow our passions in retirement years, Rick served at the Chair of Music Education at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and served as the conductor of the Crane Chorus.
Joining Jim were also Joan Ragland and Maryanne Adams from the Onondaga Audobon Society.
In October we were pleased to have a presentation by Ryan Novak, the developer of the Chocolate Pizza Company in Marcellus, New York. Ryan graduated from Syracuse University, where he was the place kicker on the football team. He earned a degree in business studies at the Whitman School of Management. He began working at the small local store at age 15.
His strong work ethic and winning personality led to his purchase of the store at age 25, turning it into to an international company. Pizza and Wings are two of the 100+ chocolate products available from the company. He is pictured here with E-SU member Norma Ferguson.
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The Syracuse Branch of the English-Speaking Union finished its 2021-2022 season with the pleasure of hosting Evelyn Wrench speaker James Stebbings, introduced by chapter president Carl Borning.
James Stebbings with Alice Borning May
Mr. Stebbings spoke on Richard D'Oyly Carte, a theater icon in the late 19th century who established theaters and an opera house in London and was instrumental, along with his family, in promoting the careers of Gilbert and Sullivan. Mr. Stebbing's presentation, "A Very English Dynasty," was informative and entertaining.
May Meeting Subject Robert D'Oyly Carte
Previous to the May meeting, the ESU Syracuse Chapter met regularly this winter and spring with several excellent presentations.
Our December luncheon and meeting featured vocal students from Onondaga Community College and their director Lisa Miller in "OCC Sings for the Holidays" Member Marjorie Julian presented Associate Professor of Music and Sound Recording Coordinator, Lisa Miller.
January brought us George Cunningham who spoke about the life and poetry of Scotland's poet laureate Robert Burns in a program entitled "Celebrating Bobby Burns."
Mr. Cunningham also entertained us with readings of Burns' poetry and with his own performance on the bagpipes. Mr. Cunningham was introduced by member Shirley Cruikshank.
George Cunningham and Shirley Cruikshank
JoAnn Wallace presented our February speaker, Len Fonte, a playwright and theater critic who calls Syracuse home. He spoke on the topic "Shakespeare and the Stage." Mr. Fonte has directed over forty productions and was accepted into the 2010 Kennedy Center Playwriting Intensive, a series of rigorous workshops.
Len Fonte and JoAnn Wallace
April brought us music and opera performer Colby Thomas. Ms. Thomas has performed worldwide, starring in several productions, including playing the role of Christine in Hamburg, Germany's, production of "Phantom of the Opera." She is an expert on American Musical Theater and is presently teaching, performing and directing at SUNY at Oneonta. She was introduced by member Alice Borning.
Colby Thomas and Alice Borning, April Meeting
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