The Rapp: Weighing in; taking on the Superstars; Halloweening

Weigh in

The Foothills Forum’s first-ever survey — a comprehensive, countywide questionnaire on a full range of interests, issues, concerns and levels of satisfaction — should be arriving this week at each household in Rappahannock County.

Meant to establish a scientific, factual baseline of information for research and reporting, including projects with the Rappahannock News, the survey becomes exponentially more useful the more county residents respond. (See the related letter here.)

So don’t forget to vote for your future leaders next Tuesday, Nov. 3. And to similarly weigh in — by filling out and returning the Foothills survey soon — on the issues you’d want your leaders to focus on.

Harlem Superstars in Pantherland

The Harlem Superstars meet Rapp’s Superstar Slayers, for fun and fundraising, Friday at the high school.

The Harlem Superstars bring their unique brand of comedy basketball to Rappahannock County High School tomorrow night (Friday, Oct. 30) at 7 p.m. as they face off against Rappahannock’s own Superstar Slayers. With slam dunks, trick shots, music and lots of fan interaction, the evening promises fun for all ages — and benefits a variety of high school student programs.

The all-local Superstar Slayers features high school principal Mike Tupper, elementary principal and vice principal Cathy Jones and Karen Ellis, Rapp’s own one-time basketball superstar Mike Leake, plus teachers and staff Chuck Way, Sally Shackelford, Tiffany Keys, Luke Slezak, Dani Pond, Michelle Papa, Rich Hogan, Jason Guirra and Dave Naser and students Hannah Bennett, Brandon Rutherford, Paige Pilkington, Jackson Strickler, Dakota Payne, Josh Racer, Julia Estes, Kayla Robey, Elizabeth Fisher, Colby Frye, Ethan Sumner, Faith Pullen and Henry Wood.

The night includes a halftime show by the Superstars where younger players can compete for prizes, and a chance to catch autographs and photos with the players after the game.

Advance tickets are $8 and are available at RCHS, the elementary school, the Rappahannock CFC Farm and Home Center and the Sperryville Corner Store. Tickets at the door are $10. For more information, contact Karen Sanborn at

Halloween doings

Photo by Ruthie Windsor-Mann
Ruthie Windsor-Mann

So many places to wear your costume — or just take in others’ — this weekend. Tomorrow night (Friday, Oct. 30) alone, there’s a Masquerade Dance at Belle Meade School and a Fairy Tale Walk at Hearthstone School (both fundraisers), a Harvest Party at Amissville United Methodist Church and even a place where your dog can show off his or her costume (RAWL’s Mutt, Mix and Mingle at Gadino Cellars).

Saturday’s events include the first-ever Rappahannock beer festival (costume optional) during the day at the Copper Fox complex in Sperryville, and evening Trunk or Treat celebrations at Mount Lebanon and Reynolds Memorial Baptist churches and the traditional trick-or-treat and bonfire in the town of Washington (more about the last in today’s Washington column).

For more about all the weekend’s happenings, see the Events Calendar.

A brief history of the Smithsonian at Little Washington

Kenneth Slowik
Kenneth Slowik continues his 24th season leading the players in this Sunday’s Smithsonian at Little Washington concert at the Theatre.

Once upon a time, in a little town called Washington, Wendy Weinberg had a quaint and lovely treasure box nestled neatly in the center of the town on Gay Street. Everyone came to know this box as The Theatre. A treasure box it was — and still is, filled with enchanting memories and melodious delights of every sort. Inside, Weinberg placed a jewel that shines forth to this day — the Smithsonian at Little Washington concert series.

The latest installment in the now 24-year-old series is this Sunday (Nov. 1), when a program of Brahms (Clarinet Trio in A Minor) and Shostakovich (Piano Trio #2 in E Minor) is performed by violinist Ricardo Cyncynates, cellist Steven Honigberg, clarinetist Paul Cigan and pianist Kenneth Slowik. (Tickets, which are $25, are available at or by calling 540-675-1253.)

Weinberg, who has since turned over the Theatre to Nancy and Dick Raines, recently agreed to share how the series came to be.

“The Smithsonian at Little Washington series began some 25 years ago,” she said. “Detailed plans had been made for the first two concerts in the series. Then the young man with whom I’d been working at the Smithsonian told me he would have to bring someone out to the Theatre before we would have final approval. Several days later, Kenneth Slowik — then, as now, artistic director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society — drove up to the Theatre. We went inside. Ken strode down the center aisle. He clapped his hands three times, turned to me and said, ‘We’ll come.’ And that’s how it all began.

“The acoustics of the Theatre, it seems, had passed with flying colors. They had not been dulled by all the refurbishment which had recently been completed at the Theatre: the carpeting of the center aisle and the stairs to the balcony; the insulation added in the attic; the painting and papering of the walls; the reupholstering of the seats; and the flats and curtains added to the stage.

“Besides the fine concerts in the Smithsonian at Little Washington concert series, there has been a secondary benefit to the Smithsonian Chamber Players’ becoming familiar with the Theatre and the area: the musicians have helped to spread the word about the venue and led us to several other world class performers willing to come here to play for our appreciative audiences. As it happens, Lambert Orkis, who has played at the Theatre several times with the Castle Trio, put us in touch with the Russian pianist Mikhail Yanovitsky, who will be playing at the Theatre next season. Also on next season’s schedule is a concert by the Canadian pianist Audrey Andrist, who was introduced to us by Kenneth Slowik. Another pianist, the Japanese artist Naoko Takao, originally came to play in the Smithsonian at Little Washington series, but subsequently returned to play solo piano recitals.”

After hearing from Weinberg, it made sense to approach Kenneth Slowik, who offered his take on the experience of visiting the Theatre, then and now. “The first time I drove out to Little Washington with my Smithsonian colleague B.J. Davis, who had told me of Wendy’s hopes for The Theatre, it seemed that we would never arrive. The trip is still all too often frustratingly long, especially when traffic on 66 is being particularly uncooperative. But when one reaches the final 10 miles or so, and the hills beckon, and the air freshens noticeably, one realizes how strong the draw of the place can be. The audiences at The Theatre are always so appreciative that it makes the travel well worthwhile. Hats off to Wendy for having cultivated her patrons over all those years — and to Nancy for stepping up to see that the Theatre can continue to host artistry and entertainment for years to come.”

— Kendra Hendren

Mandalele Presents: The Falconers

The Falconers perform Nov. 7 at the RAAC Community Theatre, with local folk trio Mandalele in the trio's first collaborative concert event.
The Falconers perform Nov. 7 at the RAAC Community Theatre, with local folk trio Mandalele in the trio’s first collaborative concert event.

Mandalele Presents: The Falconers on Saturday, Nov. 7 at the RAAC Community Theatre is the first of an ongoing series of shared musical evenings hosted by the local folk trio. “Our goal is to share both a stage and an audience with musical friends who are touring in the region,” says Mandalele’s Wendi Sirat, “while also fostering opportunities within that space for unique, creative collaboration between musicians.”

Mandalele is the Rappahannock‐based trio featuring singer‐songwriters and multi‐instrumentalists  Sirat, Lorraine Duisit and Robert “Smiggy” Smith. They recently released their second full‐length album, “Unfamiliar Knowing,” captured in sessions at Smiggy’s mountain recording studio. Their opening set will feature Baltimore drumming facilitator Jonathan Murray on congas/ percussion and a special appearance by Rannie Winn on tin whistles. More on the band at

The Falconers are a dynamic indie‐roots duo from Binghamton, New York, featuring the sweet harmonies and collaborative songwriting of Jimmyjohn McCabe (vocals, guitar) and Bess Greenberg (vocals, upright bass). The pair is pursuing an extensive touring schedule throughout the Northeast and mid‐Atlantic in support of their recently released album, “Red Roots.” More information at

From left: Wendi Sirat, Smiggy Smith and Lorraine Duisit of Mandalele.
From left: Wendi Sirat, Smiggy Smith and Lorraine Duisit of Mandalele.

Wendi and Jonathan will kick off the evening’s festivities with a facilitated drum jam that provides a fun and easy way for the entire audience to participate in the musicmaking process. Drums and percussion instruments are provided, but feel free to bring your own favorite drum.

Tickets ($15 in advance) are available at the Sperryville Corner Store, or send reservation requests and payment arrangements to Wendi at

Doors open at 6 for the concert, followed by the drum jam at 6:30, Mandalele and friends at 7 and the Falconers at 8:45. A limited number of refreshments will be available for a small donation before the show and at the set break; you’re welcome to bring your own beverages and snacks.

The legacy of Duke Ellington

Musician and Grammy-nominated music writer John Edward Hasse, the creator of Jazz Appreciation Month, will be joined by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO), which he founded, for a look into the life, times and music of Duke Ellington at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8 at Castleton’s Theatre House. Lauded by The Washington Post as “Ellington’s best biographer” as the author of “Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington,” Hasse has appeared on NPR, PBS and CBS and has lectured in 20 countries. He’ll share insights about Ellington during during the first half of the program, followed by a SJMO performance of some of Ellington’s works, including “Take the ‘A’ Train, “Caravan” and “Blue Pepper.” Tickets ($20 to $40) for the Castleton in Performance show available at

McCarthy chairs Fauquier Health Foundation board

John McCarthy
John McCarthy

The Fauquier Health Foundation announced this week that John McCarthy, Rappahannock County administrator, is the new chair of its board of directors. He succeeds Marshall Doeller, who led Fauquier Health through its partnership with LifePoint Health and the foundation in its evolution from a fundraising organization to a charitable foundation.

Joining McCarthy on the executive committee are vice chair Robin Gulick, founding member of law firm Gulick, Carson & Thorpe PC, in Warrenton, and secretary/treasurer Ray Knott, a Jeffersonton resident who serves as Union Bank & Trust’s senior vice president and market executive in Warrenton.

“We’re fortunate to have had the strong leadership of Marshall Doeller during our first two years of operation,” says McCarthy. “His work was invaluable to helping us develop our strategic plan to affect health and wellness in our area. I’m looking forward to the foundation’s continued growth and leading our efforts to increase our grantmaking, as well as our investments in Fauquier, Rappahannock and northern Culpeper counties. With $1 million currently available in open grants, we’re expecting great things.”

Adds Christy Connolly, foundation president and CEO: “As John said, we’re so thankful for all of the time Marshall gave to the organization during his term as chairman. For the future, I know the foundation is in good hands with John’s effective leadership at the helm.”

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