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Vera Meyer Will Play and Demonstrate the Glass Harmonica, invented by Ben Franklin in 1761, at the South End Library on Tuesday, June 2, at 6:30 PM

2015 May 15
by marleen

glass harmonicaIf you haven’t heard Vera Meyer play her glass harmonica yet, you have your chance to make up for this on Tuesday, June 2, at 6:30 PM when she will be at the South End library performing the instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. The BPL is sponsoring the concert,  part of its 2015 programming initiative, which focuses on the American Revolutionary War era (1750-1800).

According to a Boston University report on a performance by Meyer a few years ago, Franklin’s 1761 harmonica is a tubular glass cone on a spindle. It makes music the way rubbing wet fingers on a wineglass rim does.  Meyer’s own instrument was made by the late glassblower Gerhard Finkenbeiner, whose glass harmonicas are still manufactured in Waltham. Mass. It features a series of glass bowls graduated in size to produce music.  It was popular among European monarchs, with Marie Antoinette having taken lessons as a child. About 300 compositions, including ones by Mozart and Beethoven, have been originally written for the glass harmonica, according to a newsletter of the New Haven Museum of Colonial History, where Meyer also played in recent years. It became a forgotten art form after German police banned the instrument in the 1830s, when it was thought to cause insanity, nervous disorders, marital disputes and convulsions in dogs and cats.ben franklin

Meyer discovered glass music in 1983 when she happened upon street musician Jim Turner playing his 70 musical wine glasses on the street in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. She was so captivated by the sound of the instrument that she immediately worked to acquire her own glass instrument.  She is co-founder of Glass Music International, an organization that promotes a renaissance of glass music around the world, after 150 years of obscurity for the instrument.

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At-large City Councilor Michelle Wu and State Rep. Byron Rushing Will Talk about the “State of the City” and “State of the State,” Respectively, at the South End Library, Tuesday, May 19, 6:30 PM

2015 May 15
by marleen

michelle wuWhat’s happening in city government? What’s happening on Beacon Hill? Next Tuesday night, May 16, At-large City Councilor Michelle Wu, and State Rep. Byron Rushing –local residents both–will come to the South End branch’s second floor to share their perspective about the State of the City and the State of the State, respectively.

The event is sponsored by the Ward 4 Democratic Committee, which regularly meets at the branch, should you want to become involved. Here’s your chance to find out how we’re doing, what’s up (or down) with the 2024 Olympic Committee, and perhaps the moment, too,  to ask those pesky questions about sidewalk repair, park maintenance and how to get our bursting-at-the-seams branch on the list of planned library renovations. Rep. Rushing is a BPL Trustee and might know the answer…brushing

The library is fully handicapped accessible, and refreshments will be served. The event starts at 6:30 PM.

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South End Library’s Book Sale Will Take Place in the Park Next to the Branch, Tomorrow, Saturday, May 16, from 10 AM to 2 PM

2015 May 15
by marleen

library book saleYes, it’s that time of year again when your sagging bookshelves need a break from all those tomes you no longer need, or never will read; you can use the newly found space for the exciting new volumes you will purchase at the annual Library Park Book Sale. You can find a wide selection of books on Saturday, May 16 in that lovely park next to the library, under the towering pin oaks: Fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks and romance, chick lit and children’s books, travel books and history, craft books and books about sailing, sailing away from it all perhaps, with books stowed in a dry place, of course.

Book donations will be welcomed until the end of Friday, May 15. If it rains, the sale will be moved indoors. Hardcovers will sell for $2; paperbacks for $1. If you need a beautiful, sturdy bag for carrying your new treasures home, consider purchasing a specially designed ecologically appropriate Friends of the South End Library book bag for $10. All donations will be used by the South End library staff for library programming and supplies, that means for you and your families. If you would like to volunteer, call 617 536-8241..press 0 for the branch staff, and tell them you’re theirs for the book sale. You will be rewarded in heaven.

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Three More Readings at the South End Library Before the 2014-15 Season Ends: Anjali Mitter Duva (“Faint Promise of Rain”); John J. Ross (“Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough”); and Adam Rothman (“Beyond Freedom’s Reach: a Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery”)

2015 May 4
by marleen

Three local authors are scheduled to discuss their work in May and June at the South End library, with the 2014-15 speaker’s series heading into its home stretch.  On Tuesday, May 12,  Anjali Mitter Duva will present her debut novel, Faint Promise of Rain, a coming-of-age story set in India in the 16th century.  She will be followed, on Tuesday, June 9, by Harvard physician John J. Ross, who will talk about Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough, describing the physical ailments of famous authors throughout the centuries. The last speaker of the season is Adam Rothman, who grew up on West Brookline Street, but returns to the ‘hood on Tuesday, June 23rd  as associate professor of history at George Washington University. In his latest book, Rothman focuses on what he calls one of the biggest challenges faced by freed slaves after the Civil War, namely their efforts to reconstruct their families. His Beyond Freedom’s Reach: a Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery, tells the true story of Rose Herrera, born into slavery, but freed during the Civil War. Her battle to have her children returned from her previous owners, who kidnapped them when they fled to Cuba after New Orleans fell to Union forces, became an international incident involving members of the US Senate and the State Department.

The library is fully handicapped accessible but seating is limited. The readings start at 6:30 PM. All events are free. Books will be available for purchase, signing and borrowing. 

If you wish to be added to the FOSEL email list, send your contact info to marleen.nienhuis@verizon.net. For as yet unexplained reasons, the website’s email currently does not end up in the right place, but this email address will improve the immediate problem. Your email address will be safeguarded by FOSEL and only be used for the purpose of benefitting the library and you.

TUESDAY, MAY 12, 6:30 PManjali mitter duva

ANJALI MITTER DUVA, an Indian-American Bostonian who grew up in France, has just published her first novel, Faint Promise of Rain. It’s a historical novel and the coming-of-age story of Adhira, a girl born into a family of temple dancers. It draws on the author’s father’s childhood in India and her personal interest in kathak dance, according to an interview with the writers’ web site Dead Darlings. Duva grew up in France with her family roots in Calcutta, India. According to a report in the Plymouth Library newsletter, she attended MIT and started a career in urban planning before finding her calling in native storytelling. Faint Promise of Rain takes place in 1554 in the desert of Rajasthan as a new Mughal emperor expands his territory. Told from the perspective of an exquisite dancer and filled with the sounds, sights and flavors of the Indian desert, the novel is the story of a family and a girl caught between art, duty and fear in a changing world.

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TUESDAY, JUNE 9, 6:30 PMjohn ross

JOHN J. ROSS, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, will read from his
Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough, a book about the medical lives of authors through the ages.
Ross explores the likely maladies of twelve literary, but medically expired stars, ranging from Shakespeare’s syphilis, to Milton’s blindness, Swift’s vertigo, the Bronte sisters’ tuberculosis, Hawthorne’s anxiety disorder, Melville’s probable bi-polar disorder, Yeats’s Aspergers, Joyce’s gonorrhea, and Orwell’s damaged bronchial tubes. Their achievements do not surprise Ross as he believes ” literary genius is more likely to arise from disappointment and chagrin than comfort and complacency.” A Wall Street Journal reviewer called Ross “a penetrating literary critic and a perceptive and humane observer of the lives of writers and of those in their orbit.” The Washington Post‘s critic described the book as “a delicious gumbo of odd personalities, colorful literary history, and enlightened deduction.” The New York Times said the tales of the ‘wounded storytellers’ “unfold smoothly on the page, as mesmerizing as any they themselves might have told, those squinting, wheezing, arthritic, infected, demented, defective yet superlative examples of the human condition.”

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rothmanTUESDAY, JUNE 23rd, 6:30 PM

ADAM ROTHMAN, associate professor at Georgetown University, whose work focuses on, among other things, the history of slavery and abolition in the Atlantic world, will talk about Beyond Freedom’s Reach: a Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery. Rothman, who grew up in the South End on West Brookline Street, researched the true story of Rose Herera, born into slavery in rural Louisiana, who was bought and sold several times before being purchased by the De Hart family of New Orleans. After Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862 during the American Civil War, Herera’s owners fled to Havana, taking her three small children with them. Beyond Freedom’s Reach is the result of Rothman’s research into the story of her battle to rescue her children from bondage. Herera’s perseverance brought her children’s plight to the attention of members of the U.S. Senate and State Department, which turned what might have been a domestic conflict into an international scandal.

Rothman was invited to speak at the library by South End residents Jean Gibran and Ann Hershfang. Gibran recently talked at the library about her memoir, Love Made Visible, the story of her marriage to sculptor Kahlil Gibran; Hershfang last year brought you former New York Times reporter and bureau chief, Stephen Kinzer, who gave a riveting presentation of his latest book, The Brothers, an in-depth history of the disastrous foreign policy roles played by John Foster and Alan Dulles during the Cold War.

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Library Park Will Receive Two LED “Light Wells,” Public Art Installations to Prevent Runoff, Improve Water Infiltration of its Soil and Help Create a Sustainable, Planted Green Space

2015 May 4
by marleen

light well 2Library Park will be the recipient of two installations of ‘light wells’ later this spring, a form of public art that includes plantings and LED-lit structures that also serve the environmentally important function capturing and infiltrating rainwater into the park’s soil to help create a more sustainable landscape. According to the creative team, led by assistant professor in architecture and urban planning at Northeastern University, Michelle Laboy, the light wells combine art, a seat, a planter, a light fixture, and a vegetated dry well for storm-water infiltration. It is powered by solar LED light that will illuminate the structure at night with the energy it collects during the day. The light wells measure about six feet long by five feet wide.

Library staff and neighborhood association board members were approached for this installation by City Hall’s New Urban Mechanics group in February, which ran an open design competition last year to improve small public spaces with projects costing less than $5,000. The Light Well project lends itself well to small parks in areas with groundwater recharge issues, according to Kris Carter, from the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. The group, which included the Parks Department’s chief landscape architect Liza Meyer, met with library staff, a member of  the library Friends group, and the Rutland Square Association during the winter, after which it was decided to install two light wells inside Library Park: one near the corner of the library building and the alley behind it; the other on the opposite side of the park, close to the intersection of Rutland Square and Tremont Street.light well 3

James Hohmann, of Mahoney’s Garden Center, who last year generously planted perennials and grasses in three areas of Library Park as part of the South End Garden Tour, has agreed to work with the Light Well design team to provide  additional plantings appropriate for the installations. The expected date of the project’s completion is sometime in June, around the time of this year’s South End Garden Tour.

 

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