As usual, the two chosen presentations were definitely up to our expectations.
The presenters and their topics were:
Linda Woodcock on ‘The Sky’s the Limit – Dark sky events in Canada’
From: Oh the Places You’ll Go! – Travel Ideas workshop.
Sharyn Salsberg Ezrin on ‘Leonard Bernstein’
From: Celebration of Song workshop.
Linda took an interesting approach to the presentation as it was an imagined trip to see the dark sky events that have occurred recently. The first stop was to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park to see a total eclipse of the moon which is on the lands of the Blackfoot people. Linda told us of the traditional celebrations for the Beaver moon (also called the Grandmother moon) of Algonquin people. The ceremonies took place at Chedoke Creek near Hamilton. The northern lights are particularly fascinating, even though the temperature can be 38 degrees below freezing way up north. Unfortunately, Linda was not able to show a short video of them near Yellowknife.
Meteor showers can be spectacular but you need an area for viewing that is free of light pollution. Such an area has been established at Mont Megantic Observatory in Quebec. In early December the Geminid shower can be observed. Nearer to home this shower could have been seen in the Torrence Barrens Dark Sky Reserve in Muskoka which was established in 1999. On December 21 the winter solstice can be celebrated almost anywhere, but if you can go to one of the ancient stone henges you should go there at this time. There is a particularly dramatic one in Northern Ireland designed to catch a dramatic view of the sunrise. Linda ended with a quote – “Once you have tasted the ‘taste’ of sky, you will forever look up“ – Leonardo da Vinci.
In the second presentation Sharyn introduced us to Leonard Bernstein, (In his introduction of Sharyn, the workshop`s facilitator, Paul Nash, made sure that we knew that Leonard`s last name rhymes the stein of the beer parlour). Sharyn told us that Leonard started his television career with The Young Peoples’ concerts in 1958. He was a conductor, composer and educator. Sharyn delighted in telling us about Leonard`s great personality and showed pictures of his family. On the darker side, he was ostracized for being gay, and for his strong support of black musicians such as Louis Armstrong and was investigated by the FBI.
We were entertained by three videos that showcased Leonard`s prodigious skills in the world of music and education. For example, one of the videos showed Veronica Tyler, a soprano with a young musicians` group who sang the aria from La Boehme.Here is the link to the video with Louis Armstrong that we were unable to see: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xleysx
The final video was a super-cut of the original West Side Story (1961), for which Leonard worked with Stephen Sondheim, juxtaposed with the new version of 2021. It is a fascinating technical display of the synchrony between the two performances. Sharyn ended by saying the Leonard Bernstein is an American Original.
Both presentations were excellent, but there were some technical glitches. Mandy Thompson, Chair of the Talks Committee, spoke to me about working on the issues that occurred at this session. She apologizes for the issues and has stated that this session was a learning session for the committee. In future they will ensure that dry runs take place to sort out any software glitches and connectivity issues. Also, the buzzing in the sound system is being investigated by Tartu. She thanks everyone for their patience as they work to bring quality to these Forums.