Stephen Kaye

Sō Percussion, technically “in residence” at Bard (but actually pursuing an international touring schedule) has established a music that is catching on.  So’s wide touring schedule has produced scores of followers, not the least of which are the student percussionists at Bard, six of whom joined forces in the Luhring Augustine Gallery in Chelsea where music and art melded in a harmonious experience.

Sō Percussion is developing its own vocabulary and its own instruments that take getting used to. On Monday, October 19 night, the six performers said that they edited down their instruments to the most portable for their trip to New York. Otherwise, the performance area might have instruments not often found in concert halls. But that is changing.

Fire District elections have seldom been so exciting.  The Town of Clinton is divided into two fire districts.  The East Clinton Fire District is run by an elected board of five fire commissioners. Their principle job is to approve a budget that funds the fire company the cost of which is paid for by the district’s property owners.  There are two vacancies resulting from resignations that will be filled by an election on December 8. The chairman’s position is also up for election, and the incumbent, Steve Forschler, is expected to be re-elected as he is popular amongst most of the factions.

Simon Ghraichy, who impressed us at this year’s Bard Music Festival, gave a recital at Carnegie Hall’s intimate Weill Hall Thursday, October 15, to a packed house. It was a chance to hear him play his own selection and it was revealing.

His is a sure talent. He knows what he wants to do and he does it. He is always in control. It is always Ghraichy you are hearing, not Liszt, who supplied the major score of the evening, his Sonata in B Minor. Ghraichy straddles the borderland between interpretation and reconstruction.  He plays Lizst (and other composers) as 21st century music.  His timing and rhythms are insightful, but sometimes off-putting.  I would call it edgy, interesting, even nervous-making. He keeps your attention.

Oct. 11, 2015 - Over 400 people gathered in a tent set up on the grounds of Wethersfield to mark the Dutchess Land Conservancy’s annual lunch, its 30th anniversary, and the lives of two former trustees – Richard Kimball and Molly Schaefer.  The day was clear, the sky blue and the grounds of Wethersfield looked pristine.  Not a weed or blade of grass out of place.

Becky Thornton, the DLC’s executive director, thanked Kevin Molloy, the estate manager of Wethersfield for his historic contribution to the property that is the centerpiece of the Millbrook Hunt country.  “Almost all the properties we see from this vantage point are protected by conservation easements,” said Thornton.  “We now have 40,000 acres under easement,” she noted. 

1218 Nancy Stahl and Dan Slott - photo by Mary Hilliard

Malloy has been able to keep the property looking much as it has always been with a reduced staff and a reduced budget.   

War, death, destruction, rape, refugees, bombings, assassinations, violence, uprootings, fear, terror—these are the words we daily see and hear in the media with such frequency we now consider them commonplace. They are the result of state actions and state actors acting on a world stage before a numbed, subdued audience of helpless victims, with us as witless witnesses. Our own country is one of those states. 

Armies attack civilians. Bombs are dropped, rockets launched and villages and cities destroyed. Streams of refugees flee across continents, morgues fill, hospitals cope, people perish and we watch, dumbfounded. 

What should arouse each and every one of us is our own mistaken bombing of the doctors of Doctors without Borders and their patients in a hospital in Afghanistan.

American Ballet Theater, celebrating its 75th anniversary, makes a three performance appearance at Bard’s Fisher center this weekend.   I attended opening night that included a premiere by Mark Morris and two stunning pieces from the repertory.

Company B choreographed by Paul Taylor to a selection of songs by the Andrew Sisters brought us back to 1941 and the outbreak of WWII.  It had all the hope and exuberance of a still young nation about to go to war.  The dancers were all smiles as they danced about the loves of soldiers and their girls with reminders of something somber, maybe sinister, suggested by shadows parading across the backdrop. Misty Copeland was just one of the strong women dancers who won over the audience, but the real strength were in the male dancers.  The records of the Andrew Sisters were marvelously redone – they sounded bright and fresh.

September 24, 2015- When it became evident that the Millbrook Central School District was going to build a structure in violation of a 200 foot buffer zone that was designed to protect the Clements from buildings close to their property, they commenced a law suit to prevent the bleachers and attendant structures that were part of the ball field improvements and that were in the 200 foot buffer zone.  That was in the summer of 2013. 

The court action resulted in a settlement that would permit the improvements but limited the use of the bleachers for night games.  Particularly sensitive were the high powered lights and the PA system, both of which interfere with the quiet of a Millbrook evening. 

But, the agreement made in court was never concluded by the execution of a deed restriction by the MCSD recording the agreement of the parties as contemplated by the settlement.  The MSCD wanted a change that made their use restriction conditional, and therefore terminable.  

This Friday, Sept. 24, Bard’s new Orchestra Now will perform is debut at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington at 7:30 pm at the Daniels Arts Center.

Orchestra Now is a creature of Bard’s president, Leon Botstein, who is also music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. Orchestra Now or TON, is designed to teach proficient musicians about playing in an orchestra. It is designed as a three year all-scholarship program that gives a $24,000 a year stipend. This is the first year of this program and Friday night is its first public concert. More concerts will be held at the Fisher Center in October. Concerts have been scheduled for the Metropolitan Museum and Carnegie Hall.

In Friday’s concert at Bard's Simon's Rock the audience will hear Beethoven’s Second Symphony, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 24 with Anna Polansky, and Haydn’s Symphony No 99. Botstein indicated he wanted to do a course of Haydn symphonies.    

September 9, 2015- The Homeland Foundation, the private charity created by Chauncey Stillman to carry on Wethersfield, has now emerged from a two year hiatus during which the NY Attorney General carried on an investigation into the mismanagement of the foundation by the two Wyckoff's, first the husband, List Wyckoff, and then on his death, Barbara. Both were found to have practiced self-dealing and misappropriation of funds.  

Through their mismanagement the corpus of the estate was reduced from close to $100 million to $32 million, including the value of the property. The foundation, managed by trustees appointed by the Wyckoff's, made gifts to institutions like the Metropolitan Museum and the Bronx Botanical Gardens that may have elevated the Wyckoff's social standing but reduced the foundation's ability to manage Wethersfield which was the foundation's primary responsibility.

These gifts were in direct conflict with the clear directions contained in Chauncey Stillman's will that Wethersfield be the primary concern and that no capital be expended for any purpose other than for Wethersfield.

 September 9, 2015- Now that the NY Attorney General's Charity Division has completed the review of the Homeland's past, it is time we revisited the foundation's financial condition and report on what those financials say about the future of Wethersfield.

The latest financial statement offered by the foundation is available on its web site as of April 30, 2014. The information is provided in the form of the federal and state tax returns for charities and was posted after the extension due date for that form, April of 2015.

The income producing assets are listed as $12,804,947; the investment income for the year ending 4/30/2014 was $441,000.  The expenses for that year were $2,113,196.

That accounting period picked up some expenses that had been incurred by Mrs. Wyckoff, the

president who was replaced and found by the AG to have failed in her fiduciary duties.  However, just the costs for maintaining the farm, house and gardens were $1,672,000.

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