The Rapp for Sept. 8

Annual art tour Nov. 5-6 is the biggest yet

Metal artist Nol Putnam demonstrates at his White Oak Forge in Huntly during an earlier artists' tour.Roger Piantadosi | Rappahannock News
Metal artist Nol Putnam demonstrates at his White Oak Forge in Huntly during an earlier artists’ tour.

The first weekend in November is always marked with major traffic in the county for the annual Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour. The tour generally attracts about a thousand participants. Last year’s zip-code analysis by Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community organizers revealed that that 75 percent were from outside the county.

This year’s tour — the 12th annual — will be the largest and most comprehensive ever. About 90 juried artists will show their work at 22 studios and nine galleries. The tour begins at the Washington School on Mount Salem Avenue, where more than 130 representative works will be on display and, for $10 per person, participants can get their driving map to the destinations. (The fee is good for both days, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

With the closing of River District Arts in Sperryville, there had been concern that the artists there would be without an opportunity to display their work. It now appears that all of the RDA artists have found other venues. In addition to the artist studios and galleries on previous tours, there will be three new galleries and seven new studios. Profiles of the new locations and artists will be featured in upcoming editions of Rappahannock News. More at raac.org.

It’s the chamber as much as the players

Smithsonian Chamber Music Society artistic director Kenneth Slowik is back at the Theatre starting this Sunday for a 25th season.
Smithsonian Chamber Music Society artistic director Kenneth Slowik is back at the Theatre starting this Sunday for a 25th season.

It all started when Wendy Weinberg, some 25 years ago, asked an acquaintance for advice on what sort of classical music program might bring folks out from Big Washington to the theater she’d recently taken on in Little Washington — the Theatre at Little Washington, actually, the 230-seat venue that Weinberg sold two years ago to Nancy Raines, who’s now calling it the Little Washington Theatre.

Weinberg told the story a few weeks ago in the homey, sunlit green room at the theater, while Raines and a reporter listened, on the occasion of an upcoming notable anniversary of the Smithsonian at Little Washington chamber concert series — which starts its 25th year this Sunday (Sept. 11) on Gay Street.

The acquaintance, Weinberg said, was Joan Reinthaler, who reviewed and wrote about classical music for The Washington Post back then — and still does. Weinberg knew her because she was one of her son’s high school teachers.

Reinthaler suggested she talk to Jim Weaver, the founder of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society. Weaver invited Weinberg to come in and meet the society’s artistic director, Kenneth Slowik — the pianist, cellist, violist and conductor who, Weinberg said, liked the idea of performing in the Little Washington theater’s intimate environs, 70 miles from any National Malls — almost as a sort of dress rehearsal for the longstanding concert-and-lecture events that Slowik and the chamber group did at the National Museum of American History (and still do, now in a newly chic space).

Slowik sent Weinberg to an assistant to make the arrangements; Weinberg said the arrangements were quite work intensive and, toward the end of the process, she was told that the only remaining hurdle would be a visit to the theater by Slowik. This was a bit nerve-wracking, Weinberg said, considering how much work had already gone into planning the inaugural season.

In any case, Slowik came out to the theater, and walked down the center aisle, stood still and clapped his hands sharply.

“We’ll do it,” he said, indicating his satisfaction with the theater’s acoustics. Weinberg said that after the Smithsonian group agreed, getting other high-quality acts to make the trip to Gay Street became increasingly easier.

“Wow,” said Raines. “This is the first time I’ve heard that story.”

Slowik will be performing at 3 p.m. Sunday (tickets are $25, visit littlewashingtontheatre.com) with the Smithsonian Chamber Players — violinist Cynthia Robert and cellist Allen Whear — for a program of piano trios composed by Joseph Haydn for his London friend, Mrs. Rebecca Schroeter.

If the past 24 seasons are any indication, it won’t be Slowik but the rest of us who’ll be sharply clapping our hands.

— Roger Piantadosi

‘Arguing with God’

Preparing for the encore production of John Henry’s “Arguing with God” is Travis Brown. From this lofty perch at the Stone Hill Amphitheater in Flint Hill, Brown will play Yahweh and argue with Moses and other “Chosen People” on Sept. 11 at 5 p.m.
Preparing for the encore production of John Henry’s “Arguing with God” is Travis Brown. From this lofty perch at the Stone Hill Amphitheater in Flint Hill, Brown will play Yahweh and argue with Moses and other “Chosen People” on Sept. 11 at 5 p.m.

There’s no arguing with the weather, so last spring’s premiere performance of John Henry’s play “Arguing with God” at his Stone Hill Amphitheatre in Flint Hill was rained out — twice! So it went indoors at the Hylton Performing Arts Center for a trial run in June. But the play was written by the master builder of the amphitheater expressly for that magnificent space, and so an encore production is now scheduled for 5 p.m. this Sunday (Sept. 11) at the Stone Hill Amphitheatre, with many of the play’s Biblical characters being played by Rappahannock residents. Perhaps presumptuously, no rain date is offered this time. Tickets are $20 at the door or available at arguingwithgod.eventbrite.com. Parking and children’s attendance free.

Community Drum Circles

By Rob HillardRob Hillard

Join in the music making at the first of a series of three Community Drum Circles at the RAAC Theater, Washington, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18. These events (there are two more on Oct. 16 and Nov. 19) are free and open to the all ages and experience levels, and are made possible in part by a grant from RAAC’s Claudia Mitchell Art Fund. Lots of drums and percussion instruments to share, or bring your own. For more information, contact Wendi Sirat at 540-987-8417 or wendi@whitesage.net.

Community Drum Circles are fun, family friendly, interactive events in which the participants show up as individuals and, with a bit of guidance by facilitator Wendi Sirat, end up creating music together like a spontaneous community orchestra. Participating in drum circles can help stimulate coordination, cooperation, self expression, listening skills, team building and stress reduction. They are used with school groups, “at risk” children, nursing homes, corporate offices and community events around the world. Feel free to bring the whole family!

Kid Pan Alley, back in Rapp

Kid Pan Alley is back in Rappahannock for a two-week residency and a free concert Friday, Sept. 23 at RCES.Molly M. Peterson
Kid Pan Alley is back in Rappahannock for a two-week residency and a free concert Friday, Sept. 23 at RCES.

Kid Pan Alley started writing songs with kids 16 years ago right here in Rappahannock, and they’re back this month for a songwriting residency with Rappahannock County Elementary, Hearthstone School and Childcare and Learning Center kids Sept. 12-23.

It all ends with a free concert featuring the children performing with Kid Pan Alley’s Paul Reisler, vocalist Sahffi Lynne and sax virtuoso Marshall Keys 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 at Rappahannock County Elementary School.

Learn Mental Health First Aid on Sept. 29

On Thursday, Sept. 29, Rappahannock residents have a unique opportunity to participate in a Mental Health First Aid course taught by Sallie Morgan and John Waldeck of the Mental Health Association. The full day class will be held at the Rappahannock County Library (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

One of the deepest and most destructive secrets our culture somehow keeps buried is the extent to which mental health issues affect us all in one way or another. One in four adults, and one in five children, suffer from a diagnosable mental health problem at any given time, and over our lifespan more than half of us will experience a mental health crisis or concern.

Chances are that all of us have a friend, loved one or coworker who is struggling right now with depression, anxiety or a similar condition. Yet we are still reluctant to talk about those issues, which means that people often do not seek help. On average, the time between the appearance of symptoms and actually getting treatment is 10 years — 10 years of pain and often worsening symptoms.

Taking mental health out of the shadows, providing information and reducing stigma is what Mental Health First Aid is all about. The eight-hour, evidence-based course parallels medical first aid instruction and offers in-depth information about the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders to help us recognize when someone around us is struggling. The course also provides information about how we can respond when we identify an issue and how we can assist the individual in getting help.

In 2015, Morgan and Waldeck provided Mental Health First Aid for teachers and administrators from the Rappahannock County schools, as well as other interested persons. One of the county’s first responders who took the course was Harold Beebout, who reported a few weeks later that the course had been a great help in responding to a rescue squad call that involved an individual who was severely depressed. The course can be helpful in work settings and personal settings, and is appropriate for anyone over age 18 who in interested.

Morgan, executive director of the Mental Health Association, and John Waldeck, the association’s board president, have both worked in the mental health field in this region for many years before joining the association. They believe that Mental Health First Aid has the power to transform our entire community’s views on mental health, to break down the stigma that still lingers and to give us all tools we can use in reaching out to those in need of help.

As space is limited, pre-registration is required for the Sept. 29 course. Interested persons should contact Sallie Morgan at mhafc1@gmail.com or 540-341-8732. There is no fee for participation thanks to funding from the Northern Piedmont Community Foundation’s Richard Lykes fund. Lunch will be provided.

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