1) MerleFest Expands Acoustic Kids Showcases for 2014
MerleFest – presented by Lowe’s and slated for April 24-27 is well known for its celebration and encouragement of talented young performers. The Acoustic Kids Showcase, a performance platform for the next generation of pickers, singers and traditional-style artists, allows youth to highlight their talents for music fans at the four-day festival. This builds upon the momentum established by the Youth Showcases, which have been mainstays at MerleFest for the past ten years. Hosted by performer Andy May, these showcases will provide an opportunity for young performers through age 16, regardless of skill level, to perform in a supportive environment. Young pickers, singers and those with related talents are encouraged to apply before the April 1 deadline. Selected participants will be notified by April 15. Selection is not based on how advanced a child’s performance might be, but rather it is based on a child’s confidence in performing at his or her level. In fact, beginners are encouraged to apply. An application for the Acoustic Kids Showcases – and additional instructions and details about the Showcases – may be found at http://merlefest.org/YouthShowcases/. The Acoustic Kids Showcases, formerly known as the Youth Showcases at MerleFest, will be held on the Austin Stage on Friday, April 25, from 5-6:30 p.m.; the Dance Stage on Saturday, April 26, from 10-11:30 a.m.; and the Little Pickers Stage on Saturday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Additionally, from among this year’s pool of applicants for the Acoustic Kids Showcases, several performers will be chosen for the special performance of the “Acoustic Kids Ambassadors” on the Cabin Stage on Saturday afternoon, 3:05-3:30 p.m. Andy May is well known to MerleFest fans as a singer, songwriter, guitarist, mandolinist, producer, educator and visual artist. His Acoustic Kids Showcases<http://andymay.com/%22http:/acoustickids.com%3C/a> have given hundreds of young performers supportive performance opportunities for over 20 years. “I first developed the Acoustic Kids concept as a way to showcase my students who had the desire and the ability to share their talents with an audience larger than their family and friends,” said May. “As a performer and educator myself, I wanted Acoustic Kids to be a positive experience for my young students. In the friendly and supportive environment that we provide, we have seen youngsters develop into wonderful performers.” Performers should note that the Acoustic Kids Showcases is now the method at the festival for young performers to showcase their talent because MerleFest will not be offering the individual instrument contests this year. To take advantage of the MerleFest 2014 “early bird” ticket discount, which has been extended to March 24 at 5 p.m., visit www.MerleFest.org<http://www.merlefest.org/> or call 1-800-343-7857. Also available for download on March 1, the MerleFest mobile app, being offered at no charge to users, features the MerleFest lineup and stage schedules, artist biographies, map, announcements, social media links and more. The app allows users to plan for their entire MerleFest experience. Users who currently have the MerleFest mobile app will receive a prompt on their phones to download the 2014 version of the app. The app is compatible with Android and iOS platforms. A bonus for MerleFest fans: once downloaded, the app will be fully functional without having connection to phone service. MerleFest, considered one of the premier music festivals in the country, is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. MerleFest was founded in 1988 in memory of the late Eddy Merle Watson, son of the late American music legend Doc Watson. MerleFest is a celebration of “traditional plus” music, a unique mix of music based on the traditional, roots-oriented sounds of the Appalachian region, including bluegrass and old-time music, and expanded to include Americana, country, blues, rock and many other styles. The festival hosts over 130 artists, performing on 13 stages during the course of the four-day event. The annual event has become the primary fundraiser for the WCC Endowment Corporation, funding scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs.
2) Works by Women Composers Performed March 3
The Faculty Performance Series at Appalachian State University highlights music of women composers March 3 in Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall. The performance begins at 8 p.m. Admission is free. Organist Joby Bell opens the program with “Tambourines!” from Libby Larsen’s “Aspects of Joy” one of three compositions by Larsen to be featured during the performance. Larsen is one of America’s most performed living composers. She has created a catalogue of more than 400 works spanning virtually every genre, from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral works and more than 12 operas. Pianist Hiu-Wah Ah will perform Clara Schumann’s “Romance, Op. 11 No. 1.” Schumann was a noted piano soloist as well as composer, writing more than 60 compositions for piano and orchestra and solo piano. Pianists Christina Hayes and vocalist Reeves Shulstad will perform Amy Cheney Beach’s “Summer Dreams, Op. 47” for piano duet. A New Hampshire native, Beach put her performing career on hold at her physician husband’s wishes and devoted herself to composing, and performing a recital only once a year. Following her husband’s death, she toured Europe for three years performing her own works. Clarinetist Doug Miller, violist Eric Koontz and pianist Bair Shagdaron will perform two selections from Libby Larsen’s “Black Birds Red Hills.” They are “Pedernal Hills and “A Black Bird with Snow-Covered Hills.” The compositions were inspired by Georgia O’Keefe paintings. Horn player Karen L. Robertson and pianist Joby Bell will perform “Wolf Night” from Andrea Clearfield’s “Songs of the Wolf.” Clearfield is an award-winning American composer of music for orchestra, chorus, soloists, chamber ensembles, dance and multi-media collaborations. She has composed more than 90 works for voices and orchestra. The Appalachian Treble Choir will close the program with three selections for voice and piano by Larsen. Titled “Today, This Spring,” the three-song set was commissioned by David L. Cooper and Thomas Scott in remembrance of Cooper’s wife and Scott’s sister, both of whom succumbed to breast cancer. The songs are “Today, This Spring, “She Piped for Us,” based on a sermon from the memorial service, and “If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking.” The choir is directed by Priscilla Porterfield.
3) Global Film Series Opens March 17 with “Wadjda”
A series of films from around the world will be shown beginning March 17 at Appalachian State University. Admission is free. The Global Film Series is a cooperative campus effort to provide a blend of cinema from around the world in various languages representing a variety of cinematic genres. It provides a platform for student groups, faculty and staff to share their international experience, knowledge and extracurricular opportunities through a variety of associated activities. The first film in the series is “Wadjda” (A Saudi Girl and the Green Bike) on Monday, March 17 at 7 p.m. in I.G. Greer Theatre. The film is co-sponsored by INTAPP and the Language and Culture Community, two on-campus programs that seek to increase international understanding and involvement with other cultures an countries, and Belk Library and Information Commons. The film follows an enterprising 10-year-old Saudi girl who enters her school’s Koran recitation competition to raise the funds she needs to buy a green bicycle that has captured her interest. She discovers the limitations placed on women in the name of custom, Islam and family honor. “New Muslim Cool” will be shown Tuesday, March 25 at 5 p.m. in Room 114 of Belk Library and Information Commons. The film is co-sponsored by Muslim Journeys and Belk Library and Information Commons. In it, filmmaker Jennifer Mayatorena Taylor showcases a Muslim American man who’s a rapper, educator, father, husband and idealist. “Girl Rising” will be shown Tuesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. in I.G. Greer Theater. The showing is co-sponsored by the student leadership development organization AIESEC and Belk Library and Information Commons. The film promotes girls’ education across the globe. According to the film’s website, “Viewers get to know nine unforgettable girls living in the developing world: ordinary girls who confront tremendous challenges and overcome nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams.” The series concludes with “Carandiru” Thursday, April 10, at 6 p.m. in Greenbriar Theater in Plemmons Student Union. It is part of Brazil Week on campus and sponsored by and Belk Library and Information Commons. According to J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader, the film “weaves the stories of a dozen inmates into a densely textured fabric, capturing the feel of a closed society whose members have lost their freedom yet still maintain a tenuous grip on their humanity.”
4) March Lectures and Recital Focus on Jewish Organ Music
Organist Ann Frohbieter will present lectures and a recital focusing on Jewish organ music March 17-19 at Appalachian State University. Forhbieter is the organist and choral director at Congregation Emanu El in Houston and organist of Cypress Creek Christian Church in Spring, Texas. She will lecture on “Organ and Choral Music of the Jewish Reform Tradition” March 17 from 5-6:30 p.m. in room 204 in the Hayes School of Music. Her recital begins at 8 p.m. March 18 in Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall. Her final lecture “The Organ and its Music in German-Jewish Culture,” will be presented March 19 from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 119 I.G. Greer Hall. All events are free and open to the public.
5) March Programs for Grandfather Mountain State Park
- Sensory Walk: On Sunday, March 2 at 2 p.m. come for a hike at Grandfather Mountain State Park and experience the mountains with a renewed sense of wonder using all of your senses. Join a park ranger for a slow leisurely stroll along the lower elevations and see, hear, smell, touch and taste what you have been missing. Hiking boots are recommended.
- Camouflage: On Saturday, March 8 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., join a ranger to learn the many ways animals use camouflage in the wil and how to be more attentive when hiking out on the trails to notice more neat things than what is right on the trail. This will be a 30 minute program.
- Forest Ecology: On Sunday, March 9 at 2 p.m. get out and enjoy the brisk mountain air for a guided walk along the Profile Trail. Participants will learn about trees, community types, birds and forest ecology in winter. Difficulty will be easy to moderate 2 mile round trip hike lasting 2 hours.
- Who Cooks for You?: On Friday, March 14 and March 21 at 5 p.m. join a ranger to learn about the many neat adaptations the Barred Owl has. These birds of prey are equipped with a lot more gadgets than you would think. During this program, you will not only learn what the adaptations are and how they use them, but you will also get to see what a live Barred Owl looks like and we might even get to hear one.
- Ten Essentials to Day Hiking: On Sunday, March 16 at 2 p.m., meet a ranger at the Lowes Foods Grocery Parking Lot and learn about the classic ten essential items of backpacking, the Grandfather Mountain ten essentials and see examples of the types of equipment that hikers should be taking with them. The program will last 30-45 minutes and will be outside.
- To Build a Fire: On Sunday, March 22 at 2 p.m., Join a park ranger at Grandfather Mountain State Park to learn techniques on fire building and emergency fire starting for camping, heating or survival. Participants will learn about fuel sources, alternative fire starters and some of the science around fire.
6) CSA Programs Begin This Spring
Spring is only a couple weeks away. That means farmers will soon begin harvesting greens, asparagus, strawberries and more to sell to grocers, at farmers tailgate markets and to pack directly for their Community Supported Agriculture farm share subscribers. To help those interested in a CSA find the right one for them, ASAP is hosting the third High Country CSA Fair on Tuesday, March 4 from 5-7 p.m. at the Agriculture Conference Center in Boone. The free family-friendly event is an opportunity to meet High Country farmers, learn about their CSA programs and products and purchase a share or shares. Family farms offering traditional CSAs provide the chance to sign up for a season and receive a box of produce straight from their farm every week. They offer convenient pickup or delivery schedules for the steady supply of farm-fresh foods and many feature add on options such as eggs, cheese and meats. Today, there are a growing number of CSAs moving beyond the traditional model with varied subscription sizes and flexible sign-up options. ASAPs fair provides the opportunity to ask local CSA farmers what makes them unique. The following six diverse CSA providers are slated to attend: Creeksong Farm, Farm at Mollies Branch, High Country CSA, Lively-Up Now Farm, North Fork Farm, and Taproots. All participating farms have pickup locations in Boone, as well as other areas. Grandfather Vineyard Winery (Banner Elk) will be on hand for a wine tasting. The event is sponsored by Storie Street Grille and Carolina Farm Credit. To learn more about the fair and ASAP’s work, visit asapconnections.org. Those unable to attend can browse farms offering CSAs in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org; the new 2014 print guide hits stands in early May.
7) Free Health Insurance Help March 5 and 21 in Boone
Consumers seeking to enroll in affordable health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act can receive free, in-person help from trained enrollment experts March 5 and 21 from 12:30-8 p.m. at High Country Community Health, 126 Poplar Grove Connector in Boone. Appointments are available and walk-ins are welcome. To schedule an appointment, call 1-855-733-3711 (toll-free) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 6-9 p.m. Monday and Thursday. The events are sponsored by the Morganton office of Legal Aid of North Carolina, a nonprofit law firm for low-income people, and High Country Community Health, which provides affordable medical and dental care in Watauga and Avery counties. To enroll in a health insurance plan, consumers need to provide social security numbers and dates of birth for everyone covered under the plan, employer contact information (if applicable), policy numbers for current health insurance coverage (if applicable), and proof of household income. For more information about the Affordable Care Act, download this brochure from Legal Aid of North Carolina.
8) Western Youth Network Supported by Spelling Bee for Grown-Ups!
Each day during After School students will spend a minimum of one hour working one-on-one with a tutor for homework help. The overwhelming majority of After School students struggle academically. In addition, staff has observed that students will act out in school or at home due to embarrassment on their inability to complete basic math equations or to read at the appropriate grade level. With WYN’s daily one-on-one tutoring assistance, students receive the help they need to get back on track academically and often it is this tutoring assistance that is the determining factor in whether or not students will pass their grade or be held back. Our typical award of $1000 would go a long way to fully support this program. If you would like to participate, now is the time to select your 4-member team for the Chamber’s annual Grown-Up Spelling Bee [or should I say ‘groan’-up spelling bee?]. Once again the Grown-Up Spelling Been is sponsored by Yadkin Bank. They also provided some great awards to our Watauga County School bee winners. We thank them for their support of education in our public schools. This year’s bee is scheduled for 5:00 pm, Tuesday, March 18 at the Watauga High School gymnasium. The registration for the Spelling Bee is $60 for a 4-person team, so all you need to do is find your best spellers – no spelling aids are permitted – no spell-checkers! We even provide you with some “Bee Bucks’ to keep you in the competition when your spelling skills fail. You can purchase extras, and from past experience, some of you may need them. Each team is requested to create a theme represented by their costumes and table decorations – prizes will be given for the best in both categories. Use your imagination! Who can forget the BREMCO ‘Bright Ideas’ helmets with light bulbs? Get your registration form in early. Please contact Barbara or Wysteria at the Chamber. Come out for an evening of entertainment and support of a great cause!