Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, guest speaker at Sunday’s (Feb. 18) 4 p.m. annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday at the Theatre at Washington, is a celebrated foreign service officer who’s led diplomatic efforts that helped change the course of world events.
With overseas tours in Belgium, the Bahamas and Jamaica, she’s served as deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs and was the first African-American woman to serve as principal officer (consul general) in Durban, South Africa. Bridgewater was the longest serving U.S. diplomat in South Africa during the historic transition from apartheid. As a political officer assigned to cover Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, as a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa said, “Bridgewater established a degree of trust and confidence with Mr. Mandela and the ANC leadership that the U.S. had not previously enjoyed.”
Ambassador Bridgewater worked at the height of the most recent civil war in Liberia and spearheaded efforts that led to comprehensive peace agreement and democratic elections. She has worked under Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“We’re very fortunate to have a distinguished diplomat to visit with us during the celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday,” said MLK celebration program director Nan Butler Roberts. “I hope that all of Rappahannock and the surrounding area’s citizens and guests will greet her on Sunday afternoon.”
The 24th annual event also features readings by students in the MLK essay competition, awards and music. For more information, contact Lillian F. Aylor at 540-987-8064 or Roberts at 540-661-2013 or firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no admission fee; a free-will offering will be made.
During an online chat Jan. 7, Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema fielded several questions about The Inn at Little Washington’s public disagreement with Washingtonian’s recent downgrade of the restaurant from its No. 1 to No. 22 spot in the magazine’s annual top-100 list, and took the opportunity to reiterate his appreciation of The Inn and chef Patrick O’Connell:
“Q: Do you agree with any of the Washingtonian’s review of Inn at Little Washington? Its always been on my list of ‘one day I’ll have that kind of cash’ things to do, should it still be?
“A: Tom Sietsema: By all means, continue saving your money for the Inn. I’ve eaten there at least 20 times in the past 15 years and I continue to be amazed, especially in recent years, at the ways, large and small, in which the modern American restaurant enhances itself from season to season. Is it always perfect? No. But what is? The Inn recovers from slights quickly and generously. And there’s not another place like it in this country.”
Also last week, former Rappahannock-based Oasis CD founder Micah Solomon, who writes for Forbes on customer-service and entreprenuership topics, posted a complimentary essay on forbes.com about the many ways that “the dining room at The Inn at Little Washington manages to deliver some of the best customer service on the planet, and what you, whatever your field of service, can learn from their approach.”
Castleton in Performance (CiP) begins its 2015 run this Sunday (Jan. 18), when Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra trumpeter Marcus Printup and renowned clarinetist/saxophonist Ken Peplowski, with the New York City-based roots music collective, The Amigos, take the Theatre House stage at 4 p.m. to explore the music of Louis Armstrong Sidney Bechet, Duke Ellington and other jazz and American music giants. The concert is a preview of things to come with the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s summer residency at the Castleton Festival.
The CiP’s new season also brings big-city actor Alex Baldwin to town (well, okay, there’s a couple of towns within a 15-minute drive of Castleton) on March 14 for “A Time to Break Silence,” a special concert hosted by Orson Maazel to raise awareness of human and animal rights, with Baldwin as guest speaker and music from the civil-rights movement sung by Davone Tines, rising bass-baritone star, Virginia native and Castleton Festival alum.
Other CiP dates include percussionist Tom Teasley (Feb. 15); Indian Classical Dance with Padmarani Rasiah Cantu (April 26, with an Indian dance workshop on April 25); and Italian concert pianist Vanessa Benelli Mosell (May 9).
Like its bigger summer cousin, the Castleton Festival, CiP brings world-famous artists and top regional talent to Rappahannock County for intimate, affordable performances in the 140-seat Theatre House. The jazz concert with Printup, who will return to Castleton this July as a faculty member teaching trumpet for two weeks at JALC’s Summer Jazz Academy, offers a preview of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s highly anticipated arrival in the region.
“We’re moving Castleton Festival on to the world stage for jazz performance and education,” said area pianist and composer Burnett Thompson, who is also CiP’s director of programming.
In addition to the jazz mentoring for 45 talented students, this summer will bring two weekends of jazz concerts following the Castleton Festival’s classical, opera and theater program. There will be four concerts total: JALC faculty and student combo concerts on July 25 and 26, and Student Big Bands and the renowned JALC Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on August 1-2.
For more on the Castleton Festival, or for CiP tickets ($20 to $40), visit castletonfestival.org or call the box office at 866-974-0767.
Jazz pianist Bill Harris puts his all — which is equal parts awesome and affable — into a solo recital he’s calling “Timeless Love Songs,” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24 at the Theatre at Washington. Harris continues his lifelong exploration of the American Songbook, and improvises on his favorite melodies and lyrics. Think Nat Cole, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and such standards as “More Than You Know” and “If I Had You.”
A superb pianist with a relaxed and pleasing style, Harris is a jazz favorite throughout the D.C. area and is listed in Washingtonian magazine’s “Best of Jazz in DC.” His musical direction for the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History IMAX Jazz Café helped launch the successful inaugural year of the venue. The winner of Hennessy Cognac’s “Best of DC Jazz” competition, Harris is also a big draw in Rappahannock County (where he and his family have lived for the past decade or so).
Tickets for the show are $25 ($10 for ages 17 and younger); reservations for preferred seating are recommended but unreserved tickets will also be available at the box office. Call 540-675-1253 or email email@example.com.
Everyone’s invited to join the fight against cancer at the Relay For Life of Rappahannock County’s 2015 Kick-Off Event, 4 to 8 p.m. next Friday (Jan. 23) at the Washington fire hall. There will be lots of information about Relay 2015 — the annual event is May 9 at Rappahannock County Elementary School — plus team supplies, door prizes, a silent auction, baked goods for sale and sponsorship opportunities. You can learn about the Look Good Feel Better Program, which helps cancer patients deal with the effects of treatment, meet the event leaders and more. For more information about the kick-off and the Relay For Life in Rappahannock, email Tabetha Swain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, Jan. 25, in Orange County, the next Working Woods Walk at James Madison’s Montpelier sets off at 2 p.m. from the Visitors Center at 11407 Constitution Hwy. in Montpelier Station. Explore beyond the mansion and the lawn into the Montpelier Demonstration Forest on a two-hour hike with experts on conservation and cultivation strategies past and present. The walk through President Madison’s beloved woodlands, led by Virginia Master Naturalists through a state-of-the-art trail showcasing various forest- and habitat-tending methods, is $10 (or $5 with admission to the Mansion tour; ages 5 and younger are free). The walk is a Virginia LEAF (Link to Education About Forests) program. For more, go to montpelier.org/visit. Call 540-672-2728 (extension 141 or 252) if weather threatens.