The Rapp for Sept. 29

The must-see, not-TV weekend

Like your calendar, ours has swelled to its usual October flood levels. Check the Events calendar itself for all the details; meanwhile, here are a few highlights:

• Saturday and Sunday’s annual Autumn Conservation Festival at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the 3,200-acre hilltop breeding/research facility in Front Royal, 10 to 3 both days. Full schedule and parking permits ($30 in advance) are available at, or call 202-633-3045.

• An open house Saturday afternoon for the newly relocated River District Artists at Ginger Hill Antiques, 2 to 5 p.m. (More about on the Event page)

• 1000 Faces Mask Theater’s newest production has been moved from Flint Hill to the yard of Howard and Julie Coon in Castleton. See this post for more. Doors open at 4:30; the play starts at 6. Contact Peggy Schadler at or 540-987-8823.

• Siblings Peter and Will Anderson bring their energizing arrangements of American jazz classics and fresh original music to the Little Washington Theatre Saturday night at 8. (More at

• Note: Tomorrow night’s Rappahannock Starry Skies Festival, hosted by the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection (RLEP), has been postponed due to likely rain — tentatively to 6 p.m. Sunday at Caledonia Farm in Flint Hill (but visit for confirmation.)

‘Spotlight’ on Gay Street

“Spotlight,” the riveting true story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe investigation that would rock the city and cause a crisis in one of the world’s oldest and most trusted institutions, screens at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 at Little Washington Theatre. The Q&A that follows the film features Martin Baron, the former editor at the Boston Globe responsible for initiating the investigation and now executive editor of The Washington Post. The event is cosponsored by RAAC and Foothills Forum and moderated by former Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander. Admission $6. For more information, visit

Finding nature’s song

Kid Pan Alley founder and artistic director Paul Reisler could not believe his eyes recently when he asked school children in Rappahannock and Page counties to raise their hands if they have never visited Shenandoah National Park.

Musicians (front to back) Marshall Keys, Sahffi Lynne and Paul Reisler perform with the kids from Hearthstone at last Friday's Kid Pan Alley concert at RCES.
Musicians (front to back) Marshall Keys, Sahffi Lynne and Paul Reisler perform with the kids from Hearthstone at last Friday’s Kid Pan Alley concert at RCES. By Matthew Black

A surprisingly large number of arms went up into the air, particularly at Luray Elementary School — its classrooms being the closest to park headquarters.

“I was shocked,” recalled Reisler, pointing out that Page and Rappahannock counties are gateway communities to Virginia’s first national park. All of which has made the latest songwriting project undertaken by Rappahannock’s most celebrated musician all the more fulfilling.

In observance of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts recently awarded Kid Pan Alley a $10,000 grant for a collaborative songwriting project with Shenandoah Park, the Shenandoah Park Trust and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Apart from inspiring children to be creators of their own music, the grant was designed to physically bring kids into the national park to experience its beauty, majesty, and importance to natural and American history. Even if it meant a musician leading the way.

Reisler and his small but talented team at Kid Pan Alley have been more than happy to oblige.

“Our roots are deep here in Rappahannock,” he reflected upon the conclusion of well-attended concerts Friday night at Rappahannock Elementary School. “Kid Pan Alley started here 16 years ago.”

Attracting a combined crowd of more than 600, the pair of concerts was the culmination of weeks of in-class songwriting sessions and rehearsals (Luray Elementary hosted an earlier concert that similarly featured songs written by children about their park experiences).

“We wrote with nine classes from Rappahannock Elementary, Hearthstone and CCLC [Child Care & Learning Center]—about 175 kids in all. ” Reisler noted, in many cases the children using visits to the park “as the inspiration for their songs.”

Young singer-songwriters belt out a number with Kid Pan Alley musicians Marshall Keys, Sahffi Lynne and Paul Reisler at last Friday's Kid Pan Alley concert at RCES.
Young singer-songwriters belt out a number with Kid Pan Alley musicians Marshall Keys, Sahffi Lynne and Paul Reisler at last Friday’s Kid Pan Alley concert at RCES. By Matthew Black

Performed to resounding applause Friday night, for just one example, was “I Love Shenandoah National Park,” created by Ms. Way’s second-grade class at Rappahannock Elementary with the assistance of Reisler and Sahffi Lynne (additional concert musicians included Marshall Keys, Cheryl Toth and Kiaya Abernathy):

The woods are a symphony of sound
With the birds up high
They’re the flutes of the sky
With the bear on the bottom
It’s totally awesome
I love Shenandoah National Park

“I have chosen this work because I know firsthand how it can change your life,” Reisler observed. “You can see it in the children’s eyes, hear it in their voices and watch it overflow as they dance down the hallways or out to their bus.”

And onto the trails of Shenandoah Park.

— John McCaslin

From Battle Run to the Rose Fest

If you have driven past Laurel Mills in the spring you may have noticed an explosion of color above the banks of Battle Run, just on the south side of Laurel Mills Road. Those colors are the result of Laurel Mills resident Elizabeth Fannon Swindler’s growing fascination with and love for roses, those thorny flowering bushes that are a staple of romantic occasions.

Courtesy photo

Elizabeth Swindler’s fascination has turned into a near obsession that now involves more than 150 flowering rose bushes strategically placed around her property, including many grown from clippings from relatives. Her passion led her to become a board member of the Arlington Rose Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest organizations dedicated to the propagation of the flowering rose and one that has been entrusted with the care of some of the nation’s most treasured flowering rose beds in the capital, Washington, D.C.

This weekend (Oct. 1-2), the Arlington Rose Foundation hosts a four-state rose horticulture, photography and design competition. The Rose Fest, as it is called, offer seminars, a silent auction, photo ops and the opportunity to purchase live roses. It’s at the Hyatt Regency in Fairfax, open 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 on Sunday. (More information is online at

Beth Swindler will be at the Rose Fest, tending to her latest creation — a rose wall that will display hundreds of blooms from the flowering plants entered in the competitions. Look for her there, or just come and wander on your own, soaking up the beauty of the displays and perhaps picking up a few pointers that will help you to tend to your own flowering American beauties.

River District Artists rise again

A dozen River District Artists, including four Old Rag Gallery photographers, will be celebrating a special event this Saturday (Oct. 1), namely a grand opening in their new space at Ginger Hill Antiques. You’re invited to join them from 2 to 5 p.m. for this rather poignant reunion (there will be food and drink, and of course lots of art).

Under the gallery’s huge LED lights at Ginger Hill, smiles abound as artists work diligently to arrange their works in anticipation of the grand opening this Saturday.
Under the gallery’s huge LED lights at Ginger Hill, smiles abound as artists work diligently to arrange their works in anticipation of the grand opening this Saturday. By E. Raymond Boc

The artists include photographers Ray Boc, Bette Hillman, Joyce Harman and Francie Schroeder. Painters, watercolor and oils, fabric gurus with rug hooking treasures, potters, glasswork artists and printmakers are represented by Marilyn Armor, Gary Lohman, Bonnie Dixon, Jennifer Webb, Michele Soderman, Kate Anderson, Sally Mello and Mary Allen.

The River District Artists draw their name from the former River District Arts, home until this summer of some 18 potters, printmakers, painters and photographers who rented gallery space, plus the Living Sky Foundation, and the 22 members of the decades-old nonprofit Middle Street Gallery artists’ cooperative — members who, by the way, agreed this week to move into the space above Sperryville’s Before & After cafe on Main Street.

River District Arts owner Jerome Niessen purchased the River District Arts building in 2009 and envisioned the cavernous former apple packing shed as a Torpedo Factory-like center for artists’ studios, galleries and a state-of-the-art restaurant. As some suggest, the venture was better suited to a visionary with committed roots in the county than an absentee landlord who left tenants to fend pretty much for themselves.

Much like the phoenix, however, the fabled bird that is cyclically reborn, the artists have risen from the ashes (and, according to Greek myth, have another 1,400 years before they have to go through this again). The potters of Rappahannock Pottery Collective, Doris Jones, Sara Adams, Nancy Nord and Susan Hornbostel, have found a home in the Copper Fox Antiques complex; RDA alum Dabney Kirchman now shares with fellow fiber artist Jennifer Heverly a new Blue Ridge Artisans studio/gallery space at the Sperryville Schoolhouse annex — where, upstairs, nature photographer Jackie Labovitz also recently opened the expansive Cottage Curator gallery.

At Ginger Hill, with signature exuberance, co-owner Berni Olson has welcomed RDA with open arms. The website lists not only the treasures she and Dan Lewis purvey, but also now celebrates and welcomes the artists. Under the gallery’s huge LED lights, smiles abound as artists work diligently to arrange their works in anticipation of the grand opening. A feeling of hope pervades and also feelings of thanks, to Berni and Dan, for extending a warm business embrace and allowing these talents to share their gifts once again.

— Chris Green

Free Jewish high holiday services

Monday (Oct. 3) ushers in the Jewish New Year of 5777. Those of the Jewish faith living in Fauquier, Rappahannock, Madison, Culpeper, Orange, Prince William and Loudoun counties who are looking for a place to worship for the holidays are invited to attend the relaxed and enjoyable services offered by Rabbi Rose Jacob. Once again, Jacob will be hosting free Rosh Hashanah services, as well as the Kol Nidre service on Oct. 11 and Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement services on Oct. 12.

Services will be held at the newly renovated Vint Hill Theater in the Vint Hill Farm Station complex at 4225 Aiken Dr., Warrenton. The building is handicapped accessible and there is plenty of parking along side the gym. The nondenominational services combine traditional themes and prayers with familiar melodies in both Hebrew and English. There is no charge to attend but donations are welcome.

To RSVP and for service schedule information, contact Rabbi Rose at or 540-923-4599.

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