The Rapp column for Dec. 11

Winter music at RCHS tonight

Rappahannock County High School’s award-winning concert and jazz bands hold their winter concert at 7 tonight (Thursday, Dec. 11) in the RCHS auditorium, along with band’s annual Christmas Basket Raffle fundraiser. The bands perform holiday and other pieces, and the raffle of the themed baskets — including a decorated Christmas tree and handmade tree skirt — helps raise funds for the Band Boosters fund, which covers such band expenses as uniforms, competition fees and scholarships.

The concert’s free; refreshments served at intermission and after the concert. Call RCHS at 540-227-0745 for more information.

Tomorrow night (Friday, Dec. 12), the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community’s Second Friday at the Library program is also free — and features a talk, and Q&A, by Rappahannock Media president Dennis Brack and Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi. Starts at 8 at the Rappahannock Library. Visit raac.org for more about the series.

Become a master naturalist

Old Rag Master Naturalists inspect the terrain on a geology field trip at Stony Man lookout in Shenandoah National Park.Patricia Temples
Old Rag Master Naturalists inspect the terrain on a geology field trip at Stony Man lookout in Shenandoah National Park.

Old Rag Master Naturalists, a Virginia Master Naturalist chapter serving Madison, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Greene, Orange and western Fauquier counties, is accepting applications for its 2015 class. Training, on Wednesday evenings beginning next March, is $140; apply by Jan. 31. For additional information, or to receive an application, visit oldragmasternaturalists.org or contact Bill Clark at 540-364-0296 or contact@oldragmasternaturalists.org.

Bel Canto’s Christmas concerts

Bel Canto at a recent concert.
Bel Canto at a recent concert.

Your next best opportunity to hear the music of Bel Canto, a group of 16 singers from a five-county area, including several from Rappahannock, is this weekend. The group gathers in Madison every Tuesday to share their love of music.

Under the new direction of local musician Lauren Estes, Bel Canto is performing its Christmas concert at 4 p.m. this Sunday (Dec. 14) at Piedmont Episcopal Church (214 Church St. in Madison). Other holiday performances include one at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 12) at Orange’s Trinity United Methodist Church, and as part of the Candlelight Christmas Tour from 4 to 8 Saturday (Dec. 13) at Montpelier. The concerts feature music from classical composers to lighter fare, plus festive carols. Admission is free (although there will be an opportunity to contribute to Bel Canto’s ongoing support).

Fein speaks at Friends of Liberty holiday gathering

One of the nation’s most prominent authorities on the U.S Constitution speaks on current constitutional clashes in government at the annual holiday gathering of Friends of Liberty, a local citizen’s action group that advocates limited government and adherence to the Constitution.

Bruce Fein, a well-known Washington attorney and author known for his legal scholarship and his frequent portrayal of James Madison, will be the guest speaker at the group’s gathering at 6:30 tomorrow (Friday, Dec. 12) at Gray Ghost Vineyards (14706 Lee Hwy., Amissville). The event is free and open to all. Light refreshments and an open wine bar will be available.

Bruce Fein, shown here channeling James Madison at Washington’s town hall two years ago, speaks Friday at the Friends of Liberty gathering.Courtesy photo
Bruce Fein, shown here channeling James Madison at Washington’s town hall two years ago, speaks Friday at the Friends of Liberty gathering.

Fein, a Harvard Law graduate who has served in the U.S. Justice Department in the Reagan administration and as general counsel to the Federal Communications Commission, is an outspoken defender of individual liberty and a strong advocate of interpreting the Constitution as originally written and intended by the Founding Fathers. He has testified frequently before congressional committees on legal and Constitutional issues and has authored books, including “American Empire Before the Fall” and “Constitutional Peril.”

He has come into prominence in the nation’s capital in recent years as the powers of the presidency have expanded, resulting in clashes with Congress over the limits of presidential authority. The issue is especially relevant now, as seen in the recent actions of President Barack Obama in issuing an executive order to legalize millions of illegal immigrants, and in unilaterally altering the Affordable Care Act. Fein has criticized both Republican and Democratic presidents for usurping authority from Congress, and is a severe critic of foreign policies of both parties that have resulted in undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an erosion of individual liberty and privacy in the name of national security, such as in the U.S. Patriot Act and the National Security Agency’s spying and collecting citizens’ phone calls and emails.

In a Washington Post profile last year, Fein was described as being dedicated to a singular quest: to promote what he considers “a fundamental premise of who we are as a people — the right to be left alone.” It is our government, he says, “that has to justify why it’s disturbing my right to be left alone.”

He made a previous appearance in Rappahannock County in 2012 as the Constitution Day speaker at the Washington Town Hall, appearing in his guise as James Madison, whom he can quote at length on almost any issue. At the Friends of Liberty gathering, he will speak not as James Madison but as himself, though there is so much of James Madison in Bruce Fein that the distinction may be meaningless.

— James Gannon

Ready to Jingle?

Runners in last year’s Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk keeping warm during the annual Washington fundraiser.Courtesy photo
Runners in last year’s Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk keeping warm during the annual Washington fundraiser.

The sound of jingle bells returns to the streets of Washington next Saturday, Dec. 20, at the fourth annual Jingle Bell 5K Run/Walk, sponsored by the 4-H Community Club. The annual fundraiser benefits the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office’s “Shop with a Deputy” program. The venue — most of the town of Washington — and the holiday fun all come together to make this run one of the year’s best. Participate or come out to cheer; more details in the Events calendar on page 3.

RAAC seeks Mitchell Fund grant proposals

The Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC) is accepting applications for the third annual grant season of its Claudia Mitchell Arts Fund. Beginning Jan. 1, applications are welcome from emerging and established artists of all ages, arts organizations, arts programs within community-based organizations, collaborative projects and especially projects with a community focus.

New grant guidelines and applications for 2015, and a list of recent grantees with previously funded projects, are available online at raac.org.

Folk group Mandalele performed at the senior center in a recent concert funded by RAAC’s Claudia Mitchell Fund.Courtesy photo
Folk group Mandalele performed at the senior center in a recent concert funded by RAAC’s Claudia Mitchell Fund.

In 2014, the Mitchell Fund awarded $22,000 in grants ranging from $200 to $3,500. (More than $40,000 was disbursed over the past two years.) Recent grants include arts programming in Rappahannock schools, community music performances, artists’ workshops and continuing education, video productions and dance scholarships.

“The board and its Mitchell Arts Fund committee are thrilled to offer another round of grants and eagerly await a new crop of proposals and more great projects,” said RAAC board president Matthew Black. “We are thrilled at the diversity and quality of art-making in the county and are pleased to encourage more.”

The fund is RAAC’s primary channel for offering financial support to the arts in Rappahannock. It was established with a bequest from the estate of Claudia Mitchell, RAAC’s president for many years and a dedicated supporter of the arts and community. The fund continues to grow through ongoing donations, fundraising events and income generated by RAAC programs, principally the annual studio and gallery tour. To make a direct contribution, visit raac.org and click on Mitchell Arts Fund.

Studio School’s holiday-related art classes

One of the cards made at the Studio School’s last holiday-card workshop.
One of the cards made at the Studio School’s last holiday-card workshop.

The Studio School in Flint Hill has three holiday-themed workshops coming up this weekend and next:

Pysanky: Ukranian Egg Decorating with Nina Shepardson is 9 to 1 this Saturday (Dec. 13). Shephardson, whose eggs are on display at Coterie Shop in Sperryville, will teach you to use wax and dyes to create beautiful decorated eggs. Fee is $45.

Collage and Christmas Card Making with Donna LaPre is 1 to 3 p.m. this Sunday (Dec. 14). LaPre, known for her beautiful, quirky collage cards, shares techniques, compositional approaches and treasures from her stash of German Dresden foil trims, antique scrap images and glitters. Expect to make four cards, get messy and revel in good company. Beverages and treats provided. Fee is $25 (two for $40).

The Studio School’s third annual Christmas Ornament Workshop is 6:30 to 9 next Friday (Dec. 19, also $25 or two for $40). Visit mullanyartstudios.wordpress.com or call 540-878-3687 for more information.

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