Otterbein’s Humor in Music Festival Made Me Decide That “If I Ever Had to Choose Between You and a Third Helping of Mashed Potatoes, I Think I’d Choose the Mashed Potatoes” At The Cardinal’s Nest

A 15-minute drive takes me to one of my favorite destinations: Otterbein University. At Courtright Memorial Library, I spent a semester completing my library school practicum. At the Hanby House, I vowed to learn to play “Up on the Housetop” on my harp. And in Cowan Hall’s Fritsche Theater, I was transfixed by Doris Kearns Goodwin in 2002, as she lectured on presidential leadership in moments of crisis and good habits of academic research.

The Westerville Symphony rehearsing at Fritsche Theater, Otterbein UniversityLast Saturday morning, we settled into the back row of Fritsche Theater and listened to the Westerville Symphony’s conductor and musicians rehearse for their performance during the Humor in Music Festival hosted by Otterbein’s Department of Music.

Since last Thursday, Otterbein students and faculty have been performing dozens of humorous and satirical musical works in a series of delightful concerts. Jon Deak, the former associate principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic and the composer of over 300 musical works, is the festival’s guest conductor. Since his arrival on campus, Deak has been giving lectures, participating in panel discussions and coaching the musicians on how to deliver their performances. The festival concludes tonight.

So, it’s apropos on this April Fool’s Day to tell you about how much I have enjoyed attending this festival celebrating humor in classical and contemporary music – and making a terrific new discovery on the Otterbein campus, too!

I knew I had come upon something great when I heard conductor Peter Stafford Wilson lead the Westerville Symphony’s talented members through their first piece: the Overture from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21. Where have I been hiding, not to have discovered them sooThe Westerville Symphony rehearsing at Fritsche Theater, Otterbein Universityner?

At the conclusion of the Suite from Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé, Op. 60, I was amazed by the virtuosity of these musicians. Before they performed “Condominiums on the Hot Stove,” Deak’s humorous take on the familiar tune of “Home on the Range,” I had the good fortune to meet one of the musicians – my parents’ friend, Wayne!  Then, tapping my toes to Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 in G Major “Surprise,” I determined it was time to learn more about how I could become involved with this symphony that, besides offering concerts throughout the year, collaborates with Mount Carmel-St. Ann’s Hospital for Healing Harmonies, the Westerville Public Library for Tunes & Tales, and the Westerville School District for its Young People’s Concert.

TJennifer Hambrick of Classical 101 lecturing on "Is Music Funny?"he next evening, we slipped into another back-row seat at the Battelle Fine Arts Center’s Riley Auditorium to hear Jennifer Hambrick, WOSU Classical 101’s midday announcer, present a lecture titled “Is Music Funny?” To prove her point, she shared videos of Jerry Seinfeld’s December 20, 2012 New York Times interview on how to write a joke, Victor Borge’s performance at the White Houseand Igudesman and Joo’s rendition of Alla Molto TurcaDescribing the humor in four of Haydn’s symphonies, Jennifer recommended Gretchen Wheelock’s book, Haydn’s Ingenious Jesting with Art: Contexts of Musical Wit and Humor. After Jennifer played Peter Schickele’s “Last Tango in Bayreuth” and his “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony Sportscast,” presented like the play-by-play commentary of a baseball game, I concluded that she was right!

Jennifer also served as master of ceremonies for festival concerts performed on Sunday and Monday evenings. Otterbein’s chorale, vocal ensemble and concert choir performed lyrical limericks, tone twisters and other pieces like “The Animal Fugue” and “Old Horatius Had a Farm.”Otterbein Vocal Ensemble members performing "The Animal Fugue"

Seven saxophonists played “Laff’N Sax” and “Torrid Dora” before four pianists tackled the amazing “Waldstein Express.”

Otterbein University saxophone players performing “The Animal Fugue”And Dr. Caroline Salido-Barta entertained the audience with P.D.Q. Bach’s “Notebook for Betty-Sue Bach,” among other humorous selections.

Dr. Caroline Salido-Barta after performing P.D.Q. Bach’s “Notebook for Betty-Sue Bach”

“If I ever had to choose between you and a third helping of mashed potatoes, (whipped lightly with a fork, not whisked, and a little pool of butter melting in the middle), I think I’d choose the mashed potatoes,” the concert choir sung in Sidney Hoddes and Paul Carey’s “Mashed Potato/Love Poem.” That brings me to my other welcome discovery — The Cardinal’s Nest!

Thanks to a tip from Wayne, we climbed the stairs to the scenic second floor of Otterbein’s Campus Center and indulged in a feast reminiscent of our Sunday-night pig-outs at Miami University’s Alexander Dining Hall.

At The Cardinal’s Nest, menus feature reasonable portions of healthy dishes made from locally grown, seasonal ingredients. Soups, salad dressings and sauces are made from scratch. Deli meats are roasted and carved in-house. Cook-to-order entrees are made in a special exhibition area.  And organic vegetables are cooked in small batches, at the last minute possible, to ensure that they’re as tasty as possible.  No wonder The Cardinal’s Nest is going to be my new favorite hangout — no fooling!

Posted in Food, Music | Leave a comment

Renew Your Spirit with a Tour of St. Joseph Cathedral

With the Catholic Bishops of Ohio meeting just steps away from me before their lunch with Governor Kasich last Thursday, I joined a group of eighth graders from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Kettering on a midday tour of St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Columbus. Our guide was David Garick, the editor of The Catholic Times.DSCN4869

To begin, Mr. Garick gave us a rundown on some diocesan history. Overcrowding in Holy Cross and St. Patrick, the two original Catholic churches in Columbus, together with a desire to build a new church with a more central location in the city, led to the cathedral’s construction. Two lots at the corner of Broad and Fifth Streets were purchased in April 1866. After the cornerstone was laid at the southeast corner of the building on November 11 of that year, work began on building a church that would feature the pointed arches, columns, buttresses and dressed pedestals of the High French Gothic style. When it was completed in 1878, the cathedral measured 92 feet wide and 185 feet deep, with three-feet-thick walls standing over 40 feet tall. It cost about $220,000 to build.Detail of Black Hand sandstone, St. Joseph's Cathedral, Columbus

Handcut sandstone for the cathedral’s exterior came from the Black Hand formation in Licking County near Hanover Township. Grooves were cut into the surface of the stone to make it appear less drab and allow light to give it texture and depth. The limestone used around the doors came from Fairfield County, the windows are cased in freestone from Pickaway County, and the brackets and steps were cut from Columbus limestone. The interior walls have a sandstone finish, while the groined arches of the ceiling are painted plaster to match the appearance of the sandstone walls. The cathedral’s original main altar was made of marble that came from the same quarries in New York that produced the marble used for the interior of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Tomb of Bishop Sylvester Rosecrans, St. Joseph's Cathedral, ColumbusWhen the cathedral was dedicated on October 20, 1878, a two-mile long parade took place through Downtown. Presiding over the event was Sylvester Rosecrans, the 52-year-old first bishop of Columbus who had studied at Kenyon College and had converted to the Catholic faith with his brother, William, a West Point-trained architect who rose to the rank of Major General in the Union Army during the Civil War. The day after the dedication, Bishop Rosecrans died. He is buried in the cathedral’s undercroft, along with The Most Rev. Edward Hermann, who served as Bishop of the Diocese of Columbus from 1973 to 1982.

In 1914, renovations to the cathedral included the construction of a new main altar, side altars, and a marble communion railing. More remodeling occurred in 1978.

Enter the cathedral from Broad Street, pass through the vestibule, and arrive in the narthex, where baptisms take place. Statues of St. Francis DeSales, patron saint of the Diocese of Columbus, and Saints Anne and Anthony, minor patrons of the diocese, are also there.Narthex, St. Joseph's Cathedral, Columbus

From here, you can admire the cathedral’s interior.

Interior, St. Joseph Cathedral

At the southwest corner of the cathedral, you’ll find the reconciliation room. Originally, Italian emigrants attended Mass there until St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Italian Village was built. Today, the room also features three silver urns containing the holy oils that are blessed during the Chrism Mass of Holy Week.

Reconciliation Room, St. Joseph's Cathedral, Columbus

We learned about the attention-getting structure over the altar, called a baldachin (from
baldacchino, the Italian word used to describe a canopy of state). Symbolic of a holy space, the baldachin is decorated with carvings of fruit and foliage.

Baldachin, St. Joseph's Cathedral

The sunny day made the cathedral’s stained glass windows even more magnificent. In 1914, the windows were commissioned from a Munich stained glass firm, but the finished products were delayed because of World War I. The ornate, symbolic Renaissance-style windows alternate between depictions of the Apostles and of scenes from the lives of the Holy Family. The clerestory windows illustrate the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. The mosaic Stations of the Cross, dating from the tenure of Bishop John Carberry, glistened in the light.Stained glass window, St. Joseph Cathedral
Standing beside the Shrine of St. Joseph and the cathedra, the chair where the bishop presides when he says Mass, we admired other beautiful features of the cathedral’s interior.

The Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament includes the altar that was the main altar during Bishop James Joseph Hartley’s episcopate (1904-1944). A sculpture on the front depicts the Last Supper.Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Joseph Cathedral

In the apse behind the altar, wall niches are adorned with circa-2002 oil paintings of Christ the King, Mary, Joseph and four angels, all interpreted in the traditional seventeenth century Flemish/Dutch style by local artist Grzegorz Kucharski, a Polish emigrant. Kucharski’s two daughters posed for the angels, while his wife was the model for Mary.

Apse, St. Joseph Cathedral

The cathedral’s original altar and stained glass windows depicting Christ at Emmaeus are the highlights of the Terce Chapel, originally the sacristy. It is also where the cathedral’s collection of 22 relics can be venerated.

Terce Chapel, St. Joseph Cathedral

In addition to those relics attributed to St. Paul, St. Lucy, St. John Vianney and other saints, there are two relics of the True Cross, which are venerated on Good Friday.  This is one of them.

Relic of the True Cross, St. Joseph Cathedral

The Shrine of Our Lady features a carved wooden statue of Our Lady, Queen of Heaven. The statue is flanked by representations of Our Lady’s parents, Anne and Joachim, as well as King David and Jesse.

he Shrine of Our Lady, St. Joseph Cathedral

The grand gallery organ, often the star of the cathedral’s seasonal music programs, weighs over 14 tons and has three manual keyboards and 5,000 pipes.

Grand gallery organ, St. Joseph Cathedral

More unique features can be seen downstairs in the cathedral’s undercroft. Constructed in the 1960s, the undercroft features vaulted brick ceilings and pillars constructed from the cathedral’s foundation.Undercroft, St. Joseph Cathedral

The Our Lady of Sorrows mosaic was a gift from Bishop Carberry when he became Archbishop of St. Louis in 1968.

Our Lady of Sorrows mosaic, St. Joseph Cathedral

In Bishop Fulcher’s chapel, there is part of an earlier altar rail, statues which once adorned the interior of the cathedral,  a bronze commemoration of the first seven Columbus bishops, and four very retro prayer kneelers.

Bishop Fulcher's chapel, St. Joseph Cathedral

Renewed in spirit and rid of the “Ugly Stepchild” syndrome, I returned to my new office and told my first Welcome Wagon visitor of the afternoon about what I had seen.

Guided tours of Saint Joseph Cathedral’s interior, undercroft and crypt are available on weekdays and Sunday afternoons by appointment. Contact Michael Elton by e-mail at or by telephone at (614) 405-7770.

Posted in Architecture, Art, Churches, Columbus, History | Leave a comment

Thirty-Three Years Later, I Still Love Collecting Royal Wedding Souvenirs

Here I am with Pauline on a very sunny day in 2004!

Here I am with Pauline on a very sunny day in 2004!

On July 29, 1981, my friend Pauline was one of the thousands of people who stood along the streets of London to watch the festivities marking the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

Before the wedding date had been set, Pauline’s parents had made arrangements to take her and her sister on a family summer vacation in England. It turned out that they were in London on the big day. Using cardboard periscopes to get a closer look, they spotted the bride and groom not only on their return from St. Paul’s Cathedral, but also en route to Waterloo Station for the beginning of their honeymoon.

Recently, Pauline came across her collection of ephemera from the occasion and generously sent it to someone who shares her admiration of Diana, Princess of Wales — me!

Since the package arrived the other day, I’ve been poring over its precious contents, including the official wedding program, the official wedding souvenir publication from the Royal Jubilee Trusts, a commemorative Items from Pauline's collection of Royal Wedding ephemeranapkin, and a postcard of the Royal Wedding poster by Tony Matthews. Pauline also picked up several English newspapers during her stay, such as the July 26, 1981 issue of the Sunday Times Magazine; the Daily Mail’s Wedding Day Souvenir from July 30, 1981; The Times’s souvenir from July 28, 1981; and copies of both The Times and The Guardian from July 30, 1981. A guide to St. Paul’s Cathedral helped me refresh my memory about the historical and architectural features of the site of the wedding ceremony. When I came across Pauline’s postcard of Bryan Organ’s 1981 painting of Diana in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, I remembered how I stood before that same painting in 1983, transfixed by my heroine.

After I added Pauline’s contributions to my own collection of Diana memorabilia, I looked through two publications I sent for from England that year:  The Illustrated London News’s Royal Wedding Special Number; and The Royal Betrothal, one of those terrific Pitkin Pictorials guides that I discovered during my first visit to England in 1976.

Just like I did when I was 12 years old, I immersed myself in the pages of my much-loved copies of Invitation to a Royal Wedding, by Kathryn Spink; Diana, Princess of Wales, by Lornie Leete-Hodge; and The Year of the Princess, by Gordon Honeycombe. When I saw The Diana Look, by Sue James, I remembered how carefully I studied Diana’s clothes, hairstyle and mannerisms so I could pattern my own style after hers. “Knit (And Fit) For a Princess,” an article from the January 1984 issue of McCall’s, helped me do just that. Using the patterns that the magazine provided, a knitter made me my own copies of Diana’s famous sheep and Peruvian pullovers, which I wore so constantly that they died from exhaustion.

Before I knew it, I was pulling out the big-ticket items from my Diana collection to admire. First was the Spode commemorative mug that I bought in Bermuda that June.

Spode's Royal Wedding commemorative mug

Next came the Peggy Nesbit dolls of Charles and Diana, first commemorating one of their official engagement photographs…

Peggy Nesbit dolls of Charles and Diana's engagement … and then the ones issued to celebrate their wedding.  It was hard to resist playing “Royal Wedding” again with them as I used to do, accompanied by my official BBC videocassette of the wedding day’s events and my LP record of the official BBC live recording of the ceremony as I marched them up and down the aisle of my bed.

Peggy Nesbit dolls of Charles and Diana

Then, I carefully unpacked my 18-inch Princess Diana Bride Doll from the Danbury Mint. With its hand-painted facial features and perfect rendition of Diana’s famous hairdo, this porcelain bisque doll is just beautiful. Sequins and pearly beads are individually hand-sewn on its taffeta gown, with a scaled, lace-trimmed reproduction of Diana’s 25-foot-long-train that’s over six feet long. The doll’s tiara and half-point diamond earrings are authentic recreations of the original jewelry that Diana wore on her wedding day, and the bouquet is a replica of the one she carried.

Danbury Mint Princess Diana Bride Doll

One item isn’t shelved with the rest of my Diana collection. It’s my Princess Diana watch that I received for Christmas in 1981. Sapphires and diamonds circle the face, recalling Diana’s engagement ring. I still wear it most days.

Posted in England, History, Special Collections | Leave a comment

D’Art Will Show You “Bird Song Hill” At The Dublin Arts Council’s French Eclectic Home

Visit the French Eclectic house at 7125 Riverside Drive in Dublin, Ohio and you’ll join a list of guests that have included Audrey Hepburn and Perry Como.

The home was built in 1941 by attorney Charles Krumm and his wife, Sarah. While vacationing in France during the late 1930s, the Krumms saw a stone Norman-style house bDSCN4847y the Bois de Boulogne, a park outside Paris. They were so inspired by it that when they returned home, they began their plans to create a distinctive French Eclectic residence on their property along the Scioto River.

After Mr. Krumm passed away in 1944, Mrs. Krumm and their son, Albert, continued to live in the home until 1947, when Andre and Eleanor Gelpi bought it and became the new owners. Mrs. Gelpi founded Swan Cleaners in 1937; her husband had been a senior executive with F. & R. Lazarus and Co. before taking Swan’s helm. The couple lived in the home until their divorce in 1961; Eleanor remained there until her death in 1985.

During the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, the Gelpis’ home was the site of fundraisers, philanthropic events, Christmas parties, and Fourth of July celebrations with patio cookouts, dance bands and fireworks displays. These functions were attended not only by celebrities like Hepburn and Como, but also by Ohio politicians such as Governor James A. Rhodes and Congressmen Chalmers P. Wylie and Sam Devine.

In 1999, the City of Dublin purchased the property and transformed it into a community center dedicated to the arts, which opened to the public as the Dublin Arts Center on March 17, 2002.

Behold the home’s uncoursed stone exterior and you’ll admire a circular stair tower; fieldstone wall cladding; full-length casement windows; wrought iron railings and balconies; cross-gable slate roofing; and copper flashing, gutters and downspouts.

Original dining room mural, Dublin Arts Council, 7125 Riverside Drive, Dublin, OhioOpen the entry door framed by an arched opening with limestone details, walk inside, and the resident cat, D’Art, will accompany you as you discover more details of this attractive house. The library, now an office, features original wood paneling and a carved decorative border under the mantel of a working gas fireplace. A sunporch not only connects the gallery to the north end of the house, but also provides the perfect spot to view the landscape that descends to the river. The former kitchen, maid’s room and breakfast room were converted to a drawing and painting classroom. The dining room, now a conference room, features an original mural that was painted on canvas.

The sunroom at the very south end of the house features a gift shop where you can purchase handmade works of art by local and regional artists, art reproduction cards, art supplies, art-related items for children and Irish-themed merchandise. You can also catch a good view of the patio where the Gelpis had their cookouts.

View from the sunroom/gift shop, Dublin Arts Council, 7125 Riverside Drive, Dublin, Ohio

The living room was transformed into a gallery, offering 570 square feet of space for artists to display their works in a rotating schedule of exhibitions. Bird Song Hill: Low Relief Wood Images by Russ Shaw, on view through April 18, is a collection of three-dimensional scenes featuring birds found near Shaw’s farm in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  Shaw, a carpenter and self-taught artist, uses a scroll saw to carve images of cardinals, hummingbirds, chickadees, woodpeckers, crows, goldfinches, Scarlet Tanagers and more birds out of reclaimed native Ohio wood, such as birch, walnut, red cedar, ebony, cherry, maple, poplar, beech, catalpa, ash, oak, chestnut, Osage orange, sassafras, elm, mulberry and antique pine. He creates frames for his work from 100-year-old barn siding.  Each piece is available for purchase.

Low relief wood image of a Scarlet Tanager by Russ Shaw

Lighted by a chandelier with swan details referencing the Gelpi family’s business, the circular stairway leads the way to the second story, now home to the Dublin Arts Council’s offices.Stairway, Dublin Arts Council, 7125 Riverside Drive, Dublin, Ohio

The master suite once had a sitting room, bedroom, large cedar closet and bathroom, which still features its original salmon-colored tiled ceiling and turquoise-hued fixtures. A balcony runs along the back of the house, connecting all of the bedrooms.Dublin Arts Council, 7125 Riverside Drive, Dublin, Ohio

On the lower level, the home’s original recreation room, previously adorned with dark wood paneling and red shag carpeting, now is a multipurpose classroom, with a fully stocked darkroom nearby. The three-car garage was transformed into a ceramics studio featuring eight potter’s wheels and a kiln.

DSCN4846Before you leave, look for D’Art’s no-litter cat box, an introduction to the Dublin Arts Council’s Riverboxes series. Modeled after letterboxing and geocaching, this activity offers clues to find 13 site-specific public artworks in Dublin parks, all containing an artist-made ink stamp and journal. Other Dublin Arts Council initiatives include the Dublin Art in Public Places cell phone tour, featuring two-minute interviews with artists involved in Dublin’s award-winning public art program. This summer, it will offer summer art camps for children on painting, drawing, and pottery, as well as Sundays @ Scioto, a free summer concert series held on Sunday evenings from June 8 through July 27 and August 10 in the Scioto Park amphitheater at 7377 Riverside Drive in Dublin. Its annual Garden Party fundraiser will be held on May 2 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm at the OCLC Kilgour Building Atrium. For additional information about any of these activities, visit

Posted in Architecture, Art, Birds | Leave a comment

Next Chapter Book Club Members and I Look Forward to Sunday Afternoons at Urban Coffee

The arrival of spring means two great things to anticipate — more bike rides on the Olentangy Trail, and more Subway lunches at the Urban Coffee at the head of the trail in Worthington Hills. 

Besides being my favorite place to split up a Subway, this popular coffee shop is also the meeting place for a Sunday-afternoon book discussion group. As they arrive, take their seat, and join the conversation, the group’s members and facilitators exude so much happiness and enthusiasm that it’s hard not to want to chime in, especially when the book being discussed most recently was Little House on the Prairie. Let me introduce you to the Next Chapter Book Club! 

Next Chapter Book Club members at Urban Coffee, courtesy of Jillian Ober

Next Chapter Book Club members at Urban Coffee, courtesy of Jillian Ober

The Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) is a community-based literacy and social program that provides adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the chance to be members of a book discussion group. It was established in 2002 by Dr. Thomas Fish and his colleagues at The Ohio State University Nisonger Center, an interdisciplinary program that promotes the meaningful participation of people with disabilities in communities through education, service and research. Today, there are more than 250 NCBC clubs in 120 cities worldwide, with over 20 groups meeting in the greater Columbus area. 

Five to eight members with a wide range of reading skills and abilities belong to each NCBC group. For one hour each week, club members meet with two volunteer facilitators in a local bookstore or café to read aloud from and talk about a book of their choice. Because the same people purposefully gather in a neighborhood setting every week, the program provides members with opportunities to develop friendships, foster lifelong learning and enjoy being out in the community. 

Club members choose the book they want to read and how they would like to structure their club. They also select and order their own refreshments when they get together. In Franklin County, there is no cost to join an NCBC group. 

NCBC started by offering its members copies of classic stories adapted to the third or fourth grade reading level, like Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Treasure Island and Peter Pan. Then, the list expanded to include books that have not been adapted, such as Charlotte’s Web, The Boxcar Children, and selected books in series like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson & The Olympians, and The Hunger Games. The Columbus NCBC operates its own lending library of about 125 titles, listed here on Goodreads. Club members can borrow a copy of a book for however long it takes to read it. 

After reading plenty of books where the protagonist was either a child or an animal, participants expressed interest in reading a book about adult life that was written in simple language. NCBC tried to find hi-lo (high interest-low reading level) books whose content was geared towards adults, but discovered that there was a void in the current market for this particular population. In 2012, NCBC received a grant from The Columbus Foundation to create a book that would be written specifically with adults with developmental disabilities in mind. NCBC conducted focus groups on what members wanted to read about and discovered that relationships and emotions were the most popular subjects.  The result was Lucky Dogs, Lost Hats, and Dating Don’ts: Hi-Lo Stories about Real Life, written by Thomas Fish and Jillian Ober and published by Woodbine House.  This collection of hi-lo short stories for people with intellectual disabilities or other learning challenges presents tales about roommate difficulties, bad hair days, how to find a girlfriend and wanting a pet.  A set of questions at the end of each story encourages discussion and further self-reflection. NCBC will be celebrating the publication of Lucky Dogs, Lost Hats, and Dating Don’ts on Wednesday, March 26 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm in Ohio State’s Hale Hall. At the event for interested members of NCBC clubs and the Ohio State and Columbus communities, readers will take turns sharing a few lines from the book. 

Being an NCBC facilitator sounds like it’s as rewarding as being a member. While one facilitator focuses primarily on literacy activities during club meetings, the other encourages social interaction within the group. Facilitators rely on activities to increase comprehension (relating reading to personal stories), vocabulary (learning to use a dictionary or making an easy crossword puzzle), phonemic awareness (rhyming games), and participation and fluency (engaging nonreaders through the illustrations). They also employ strategies that encourage social interaction (discovering things in common) and increase community inclusion (teaching members how to use their local library). Tammy and Becky, the facilitators of the Urban Coffee group, do a terrific job engaging the club’s members in their discussions. 

While the Columbus NCBC groups meet at places like Barnes & Noble, Panera Bread and Starbucks, 12 NCBC clubs in other cities have expanded into libraries. In February 2012, the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), a division of the American Library Association, offered a webinar titled “Next Chapter Book Club: An Innovative and Viable Approach to Meeting the Literacy Needs of Adolescents and Adults with Developmental Disabilities.” This webinar described the NCBC model, how it has been implemented by the Scotch Plains Public Library in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, and the benefits of including people with developmental disabilities in library programming. 

Now, NCBC has inspired another initiative for adults and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jot It Down, a writing club that follows the NCBC model, promotes social interaction and community inclusion for its members. Members work individually and collaboratively to write stories, poems, letters, MadLibs and other projects. 

Next Chapter Book Club: A Model Community Literacy Program for People with Intellectual Disabilities, by Tom Fish and Paula Rabidoux, with Jillian Ober and Vicki L.W. Graff, describes how the program works; offers insight to prospective or current members about what to expect and how to make the most of the experience; provides information to potential volunteers about facilitating a club; and shares a step-by-step guide for active facilitators to manage the group. 

If you’re interested in learning more about NCBC, check out its feature under “Community Spotlight” of the Community Spirit section on page 18 of the April 2014 issue of Woman’s Day.  NCBC also maintains a Facebook page and a Twitter account. 

Those interested in volunteering for NCBC complete three steps. First, they visit a club to get a feel for what it is like and what the facilitator does. Then, they participate in a 75-minute to 1 ½ hour training session at the Nisonger Center, scheduled around their availability, that explains NCBC and how to facilitate discussion during club meetings. Finally, potential volunteers are fingerprinted at their county Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities before being placed with a group. To join NCBC as a member or volunteer facilitator, or if you would like to operate a program in your community, contact Jillian Ober, program manager at the Nisonger Center. More information is available at

Posted in Books, Ohio State University | Leave a comment

Before Traveling to Bach’s Eastern Germany, I Got Straightforward Instruction in What a Well-Tempered Harpsichord Can Do

There are 15 red-letter days on my calendar this year. Two of them have to do with Johann Sebastian Bach. 

One of those days, I’ll be at the Bachhaus in Eisenach, Germany, where Johann Sebastian Bach was born on March 21, 1685.  Another will find me at the Bach Museum in Leipzig, Germany, where Bach was choirmaster of St. Thomas Church for the last 27 years of his life.  At both places, I’ll see exhibitions about the composer’s life and work, and I’ll hear live music performed on original instruments from his day. 

My homework to prepare for these big events got started the other day, when I walked over to First Congregational Church for its March First Tuesday concert. Kevin Jones, the church’s minister of music, performed Bach’s Two-Part Inventions on a harpsichord. Ben Bechtel harpsichord, First Congregational Church

The Two-Part Inventions (BWV 772-786) are a collection of 15 short pieces that Bach wrote for his son, Wilhelm Friedemann, in 1723. Bach designed the works to provide “amateurs of the keyboard, and especially the eager ones,” with “straightforward instruction” in proper keyboard and compositional technique, he wrote. 

The Inventions are arranged in ascending order by key, starting with C major and ending with B minor, without duplication of keys, so it is thought that Bach intended them as a single work. When a music student accomplished the performance techniques conveyed in the Two-Part Inventions, he could move on to Bach’s Three-Part Inventions, which the composer called Sinfonias. 

The term “invention” has roots in rhetoric, I learned. Bach used the word to describe how an idea is developed into a composition. Delivering an oration is like performing a piece of music. 

Before he began playing, Mr. Jones explained Dr. Bradley Lehman’s theory of how Bach notated a specific method of keyboard tuning. Lehman, who earned a doctorate in harpsichord from the University of Michigan, believes that rather than expressing tuning in a format of theory or numbers, Bach drew a diagram for adjusting the tuning pins, working just by ear. This tuning method keeps the six main notes of the C major scale (C, D, E, F, G and A) in evenly spaced positions, in their normal places. The tuner then installs the keyboard’s six remaining notes (B and the sharps F#, C#, G#, D# and A#) in raised positions, with adjustments indicated by the diagram, so they can also serve as flats. This makes the keyboard ready to play music in all 24 major and minor scales. It also keeps the scales’ different expressive character, or Affekt. 

This flexible tuning method is also used in The Well-Tempered Clavier (BWV 846-893), a book of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys that Bach composed in 1722 “for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study,” he wrote.  Well temperament, Mr. Jones explained, is a type of tuning where the 12 notes in the standard keyboard octave are tuned in such a way that it is possible to play music in most major or minor keys and it won’t sound out of tune. So that’s what “Well-Tempered” means, I thought! It’s complicated, so to see images of Bach’s tuning drawings, and to read more about Dr. Lehman’s theory, click here 

By tuning the Bechtel harpsichord to reflect Bach’s tuning method, Mr. Jones allowed us to hear the Two-Part Inventions the way that Bach wanted us to hear their melodies and harmonies. It was obvious that this is not easy music to play, but it certainly was wonderful to listen to! 

The harpsichord that Mr. Jones played was built in 2007 by Ben Bechtel, who was a member of First Congregational Church. While it is not a copy of a particular historical instrument, it follows many design features of a harpsichord built in 1769 by Pascal Taskin, the last of the great Parisian harpsichord builders, in the Raymond Russell Collection of Instruments at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. To make it easier to maintain and have a brilliant overall tone, Mr. Bechtel varied some of the instrument’s original design elements, like slightly altering part of the framework supporting the soundboard to enhance the resonance of the instrument’s upper register. The design of the harpsichord produces tones very similar to another kind of 18th-century harpsichord called a Lautenwerk, an instrument that Bach owned. The church’s harpsichord was the last instrument Mr. Bechtel built before he died in 2008. 

Before I darken the door of the Bachhaus, I’m going to read these books: Sebastian Bach: The Boy from Thuringia, by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher; Johann Sebastian Bach: His Life in Pictures and Documents, by Hans Conrad Fischer; and Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment, by James R. Gaines.

Posted in Churches, Germany, History, Music | Leave a comment

The Ferragamos on Display at Ohio State Aren’t “Sparky Shoes,” But They Still Have the Qualities of an Heirloom

If Ferragamo patent leather t-strap heels and magic lanterns are some of your favorite things, drop by The Ohio State University and catch two exhibitions. 

“History’s Closet: Teaching History through Clothes,” the Historic Costume & Textiles Collection’s current exhibition, showcases an Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded grant project that helped to support digital photography of artifacts that could be used to teach history in accordance with Ohio’s curriculum for grades 8 through 12. The grant also provided for workshops in which teachers received information and resources to create lesson plans using the digital images. 

Five periods of history are highlighted in the exhibition. This brown-and-green striped silk velvet man’s coat with floral embroidery, made between 1780 and 1815, is one of three artifacts demonstrating how changing political ideals were reflected in the popular fashions of the early American republic. During this period, stiff, heavily decorated ensembles were replaced with simpler, Greek-inspired styles of clothing. 

From the Oho State University Historic Costume & Textiles Collection

This gold silk satin evening gown dating from 1867 represents how women followed fashion trends around the time of the Civil War. Readers of fashion magazines either hired a dressmaker to reproduce the clothing pictured in periodicals like Harper’s Bazaar and Godey’s Lady’s Book, or they constructed the garments themselves with the help of paper patterns and a home sewing machine.

From the Oho State University Historic Costume & Textiles Collection

 Ready-to-wear wool walking skirts like the one teamed with this white cotton shirtwaist with a lace and embroidery panel were some of the many items of clothing that were mass-produced in the early years of the 20th century. 


World War II led to fabric shortages. Since wool, silk and leather were needed for the war effort, rayon, nylon, acetate and other synthetic fibers were used instead. This wedding dress, robe and gown were all made from parachutes in 1945 and 1946. 

From the Oho State University Historic Costume & Textiles Collection

Newly developed textile fibers like synthetic leather, polyester and Ultrasuede became available in the second half of the 20th century. Their easy-to-care-for nature contributed to their popularity. This ensemble of a Courrèges orange vinyl coat, white vinyl modified cloche hat and white stretch vinyl go-go boots with front scalloped faux lacing is a terrific example of fashion popular from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. 

From the Oho State University Historic Costume & Textiles Collection

When I spotted a familiar-looking light brown suede fedora, I checked my exhibit list and made quite a discovery. Dating from the 1970s, this stylish hat once adorned the head of Dorothy Littlehale, a local landscape painter and arts patron who passed away at age 83 on April 24, 1987. 


Mrs. Littlehale was a Columbus Art League officer who received the Ohioana Library Award for excellence in art, but I knew her as the stylish lady my grandparents, parents and I saw almost every Sunday morning for breakfast at The Christopher Inn, that nifty circular “motor inn” at 300 East Broad Street that opened in 1963 and was demolished in 1988. (If you don’t remember the Christopher Inn, check out this photo of it from the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Columbus in Historic Photographs database.)  Her equally dapper husband, Bob Littlehale, owned an advertising agency and was equally involved in the arts, serving as president of the Columbus Arts Council and as an instigator of the Columbus Arts Festival. He passed away in 2002. 

Wireless access to the museum’s Fashion2fiber website is available in the gallery via ipads to retrieve information regarding other artifacts that were not included in the exhibition.

Walk across Neil Avenue to Thompson Library and up the stairs to the exhibit gallery on the main floor to see “Theatre Magic: Technology, Innovation, and Effect.” This exhibition of items from the special collections of the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute explores the secrets behind special effects. 

Artifacts illustrate how lighting creates a mood; how different production team members are responsible for the properties, or “props,” the smaller items that are found on the stage; and how magicians make objects appear to float or disappear with “black art” illusions. They also explain how an actor transforms himself into different characters through costumes, masks, vocal and physical exercises, and “sense memory,” a technique in which he recalls how his own personal experience is similar to a situation faced by the character. Let’s look at some objects included in the display. 

A dancer wearing these “Sparky” shoes would give off sparks when she moved over metal plates on the stage floor. How? A flint stone was placed in a holder on the toe of the shoe. 

From the  Ohio State University's Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute

Toy theatre was a popular home amusement from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries. Sheets containing drawings of characters, costumes and scenery from popular plays — together with condensed versions of the scripts — were sold at the concession stands of theatres. After cutting out the characters and sets, people could recreate the performances at home. The exhibit contains a toy theatre from 1922; an augmented reality exhibit shows it in action. From the  Ohio State University's Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research InstituteSets convey the story or message of the production. This model is a scale version of the set William Barclay created for a 1984 production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Geva Theatre in Rochester, New York. 

From the  Ohio State University's Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute

This 2004 working model of a 17th century Italian theatre was constructed with inspiration from a manuscript from the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma, Italy. The manuscript probably illustrates the stage house of the Teatro San Salvatore in Venice and a production of the 1675 play, La Divisione del Mondo. 

From the  Ohio State University's Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute

If you’ve never seen a magic lantern, now’s your chance! Magic lantern shows were a hip form of entertainment in the days before motion pictures. Similar to slide projectors, magic lanterns were first powered by candles and oil lamps, then by electric light. Crowds gathered in private homes, meeting rooms and theatres to watch a “lanternist” show a series of glass slides and give accompanying remarks about subjects like world landmarks and fairy tales. 

“History’s Closet: Teaching History through Clothes” is on view in the Gladys Keller Snowden Gallery at Campbell Hall, 1787 Neil Avenue, through June 28, 2014. The gallery is open Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Saturday, 12-4 p.m. It will be closed for spring break March 8-15.

Half ball buttons were covered in dark purple to imitate a clump of grapes, placed on the left hip of a light green short-sleeve gown made in 1942.

Half ball buttons were covered in dark purple to imitate a clump of grapes, placed on the left hip of a light green short-sleeve gown made in 1942.

“Theatre Magic: Technology, Innovation, and Effect” continues through May 11, 2014. The Thompson Library Gallery, at 1858 Neil Avenue Mall, is open Monday-Wednesday, 10 am to 6 pm; Thursday, 10 am to 8 pm; Friday, 10 am to 6 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 pm.

If you visit the exhibits on a weekday, treat yourself to a meal or a snack at Heirloom, a restaurant on the lower level of the Wexner Center for the Arts. The soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees and baked goods on the menu are made from locally grown or produced ingredients. Breakfast dishes are served all day. Heirloom is open Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Posted in Fashion, History, Libraries, Museums, Ohio State University, Special Collections | Leave a comment