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Dr. Michael Summers, Mason Professor of Planetary Science and Astronomy, Discusses the Search for Life Beyond Earth, Tallwood,
April 9

April 19, 2019

Editor of the Week: Dave Gundry

Table of Contents

Alerts & Notices

  • The OLLI Personal Computer User Group meets Saturday, April 20 (tomorrow!), at 1:00 in TA-1.
  • The Loudoun Program Planning Group will meet Tuesday, April 30, 11:05–11:50 in Room 2018.
  • The annual business meeting and picnic will take place at Tallwood Friday, May 3. The business meeting begins at 10:00 followed by the picnic. If you register for the picnic (special event 1105), please bring a dish to share based on your last name: salad (A-G), side dish (H-O), or dessert (P-Z).
  • The next issue of OLLI E-News will be published April 26; regular deadline for submission of items is Tuesday, April 23, at 6:00.

Appreciating Stephen Sondheim

By John Nash, OLLI E-News Editor and Writer

“Stephen Sondheim is arguably one of this country’s most prolific creators of popular musicals but one who probably is least understood,” said Norma Reck, OLLI member. With the goal of acquainting more OLLI members with the music of Stephen Sondheim, Norma met this past year with Professor Joe Walsh, musical director at Mason School of Music, to design a program that would explain the works of Sondheim and then bring to life some of his music. That collaboration resulted in the excellent three-session presentation just completed.

The first two sessions were chronological reviews of Sondheim’s development into a top lyricist and composer, presented by Mason student Caleb Cassell, whose admiration and extensive knowledge of the musical author belied his freshman status. Caleb highlighted the musicals in which Sondheim collaborated by writing the lyrics (West Side Story and Gypsy, among others) and those musical plays where he matured into writing both the lyrics and the music (Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Assassins, and many more). With the studied insight that can only reflect his passion for the musical author, Caleb explained the complexity of many of the plays, laced with short background stories.

For the third session, Professor Walsh brought several students to sing selections from Sondheim’s plays, including “Anyone Can Whistle” from Anyone Can Whistle; “Maria” from West Side Story; “Some People” from Gypsy; and “Bring in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music. The ten talented students simply overwhelmed the OLLI members who gave them a standing ovation.

“This program was beyond my expectations,” Norma said. “It all rested on the appealing presentations of Caleb and then the fantastic music from the talented singers.” Norma also pointed out that the School of Music, under the musical direction of Professor Walsh, is presenting Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along on Friday, May 3, with performances at 3:00 and 8:00. OLLI members interested in attending the 3:00 presentation as a group, followed by a “no-host” dinner at Oh, George, please email Norma Reck as soon as possible at

(Top photo: Norma Reck and Caleb Cassell; bottom photo: Professor Walsh and singers answer questions after a standing ovation. Photos by John Nash)

Fairfax City Spotlight on the Arts
By Jim Dunphy, OLLI InstructorApril 26 marks the opening of the 34th annual Fairfax Spotlight on the Arts festival. This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Concert, the theme will be An Aquarian Exposition.Again this year, OLLI will participate in the Spotlight. Your correspondent will be teaching a class at the Old Town Hall on Wednesday, May 8, at 7:00, entitled Woodstock and the Protest Music of the 1960s. This is only one of many events, encompassing theater, history, dance, music, and many other genres. The Spotlight will also use many venues, in addition to the Old Town Hall, the Mason Center for the Arts and other Mason locations, Historic Blenheim, the Sherwood Center, the Auld Shebeen, and other locations in and near Fairfax City.Brochures for the Spotlight are available in the Social Room at Tallwood (look for a Woodstock logo!). Additionally, information may be found on the Web at Hope to see many of you there!

Contemporary American Theater Festival Class

By Norma Jean Reck, Theater Lovers’ Group Coordinator

Register now for Event 1014, A “Must” Summer Experience – Contemporary American Theater Festival.

The Contemporary American Theater Festival’s (CATF) very own Peggy McKowen (pictured here), a theater designer and administrator, and Jeanne Muir, CATF staff, will be on hand on Wednesday, May 8, from 2:15 to 3:40 at Lord of Life in Fairfax to bring the theater festival to life for OLLI members. We will go behind the scenes of the three theater venues at Shepherd College, located in charming Shepherdstown, West Virginia, just a couple of hours and a pleasant drive from Fairfax.

We will learn the history of the festival and become acquainted with the six original shows playing in repertory this summer. They are:

  • Oh Lord, What a Night;
  • Support Group for Men;
  • Chester Bailey;
  • Wrecked;
  • A Welcome Guest, A Psychotic Fairy Tale; and
  • Antonio’s Song/I Was Dreaming of a Son.

To round out the festival experience, we will be treated to videos of past shows and learn about the many related theater activities available (e.g., lunch with a playwright or CATF staff, backstage tours, workshops, and discussions with cast about the plays). We’ll be introduced to the town’s outstanding restaurants, as well as the area’s other cultural and recreational activities.

This theatrical gem, which is practically in our own backyard, is a ‘must do’ experience.

Note: The Theater Lovers’ Group is planning a one-day trip to the CATF this July to see two plays, one of which will be Oh Lord, What a Night, a play based on actual events about the lifelong friendship between Marian Anderson and Albert Einstein, which will feature songs by Marian Anderson. We will also include other theater-related activities.

Photo of the Month

The April 2019 Photo of the Month theme was Self-Portrait. We selected Angela Talaber’s (my!) photo “Through the Years,” which may also be viewed at this page. To view other photos by members of the Photography Club, visit the club’s photo website.

        — By Angela Talaber, Photography Club Coordinator

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Poet’s Corner

Courtesy of the Poetry Workshop

The name alone exotic
evoking mysteries of India
fragrant temples of love
embroidered silk in bright fuchsia
marigold yellow against smooth
warm skin oiled black hair
smelling of bergamot
cloves cardamom cinnamon
scenting chickpea curries

on jasmine rice.

I become all these
when I touch the golden elixir
between my breasts
behind my knees
and leave my lair

Carolyn F. Wyatt

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Arts & Music at George Mason

Performances, April 19 through April 29

By Shelly Gersten, OLLI E-News Staff Writer

For tickets for either Center for the Arts Concert Hall (CFA) or Hylton Center, call 1-888-945-2468, buy tickets online through the event calendar (see links below), or visit the venue’s box office. For more information, see the CFA ticket page or the Hylton Center ticket purchase page.

At the Fairfax Campus Venues 

Parsons Dance
Sat, Apr 20, 8:00
A pre-performance discussion with a member of the company begins 45 minutes prior to the performance.
Concert Hall
Admission: $48, $41, $29.

Fairfax Symphony Orchestra: Holst’s The Planets
Sat, Apr 27, 8:00
A pre-performance discussion begins at 7:00 with conductor Christopher Zimmerman and special guests.
Concert Hall
Admission: $65, $53, $50, $39, $25.

Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel: Chopin in Paris
Sun, Apr 28, 7:00
The Young Artists Musicale, featuring school-aged piano students, begins at 6:00 in the main lobby.
Concert Hall
Admission: $44, $37, $26.

Mason Student & Faculty Performances

(see for additional student recitals)

Various Chamber Ensemble Concert I
Fri, Apr 19, 7:00
deLaski A323
Admission: Free.
Various Chamber Ensemble Concert II
Sat, Apr 20, 6:00
deLaski A323
Admission: Free.Lysistrata
Wed, Apr 24 and Fri, Apr 26, 8:00
Sat, Apr 27, 2:00
deLaski Performing Arts Building, A105, TheaterSpace
Admission: $20 Adults; $10 seniors.Mason Wind Symphony and Symphonic Band
Thu, Apr 25, 8:00
Center for the Arts
Admission: $12 Adults; $8 seniors.The Wolves
Thu, Apr 25, 8:00
Sat, Apr 27, 8:00
Sun, Apr 28, 2:00
deLaski Performing Arts Building, A105, TheaterSpace
Admission: $20 Adults; $10 seniors.Mason Opera: The Medium and Suor Angelica
Fri, Apr 26 and Sat, Apr 27 8:00
Sun, Apr 28, 2:00
Harris Theatre
Admission: $20 Adults; $15 seniors.
Mason Jazz Vocal Night – Spring
Mon, Apr 29, 8:00
Concert Hall
Admission: $12 Adults; $8 seniors.

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At the Hylton Center (Manassas Campus)

Gallery Exhibit: David Barr
Apr 2 – May 18
Buchanan Partners Art Gallery.
The Buchanan Partners Art Gallery is open to the public Tue-Sat, 10:00-6:00.

A Raisin in the Sun
Sat, Apr 27, 2:00 and 7:00
Sun, Apr 28, 3:00
Sat, May 4, 2:00 and 7:00
Gregory Family Theater
Admission: $20 in advance; $25 at the door.

Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel: Rags to Riches
Sat, Apr 27, 8:00
Merchant Hall
Admission: $44, $37, $26.

VA National Ballet: Carmen
Sun, Apr 28, 3:00
Merchant Hall
Admission: $40.

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For further details on any of the above events, see the CFA event calendar and the Hylton Center event calendar.

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Meetings & Clubs

The following list covering the next two weeks is extracted for your convenience from the master online calendar maintained by the office, with direct web links added when available. The list is accurate as of mid-week but for the most up-to-date information, please view the latest forecast of coming events on our website (News/OLLI Calendar). Note: All OLLI members are welcome at, and encouraged to attend, meetings of the Board of Directors, committees and resource groups, kick-off coffees, etc. (bolded below).

Sat Apr 20 10:30am
Tai Chi Club–TA-3
Personal Computer User Group–TA-1
Tue Apr 23  2:15pm Loudoun Non-Fiction Book Club–Room 209
Wed Apr 24  1:45pm
Bridge Club–TA-3
Spanish Club–TA-2
Fri Apr 26  9:15am
Recorder Consort–TA-3
Crafts and Conversation–Annex
Board of Directors Meeting–Loudoun
Theater Lovers’ Group–TA-1
Classic Literature Club–TA-2
Homer, etc.–Annex
Photography Club–TA-3
Super Salad Social–Room 113-115 Reston UCP
Sat Apr 27 10:30am Tai Chi Club–TA-3
Tue Apr 30 11:05am Loudoun Program Planning Group–Room 2018
Wed May 1  1:30pm
Mah Jongg Club–TA-2
Bridge Club–TA-3
History Club–TA-1
Fri May 3 10:00am Annual Business Meeting–TA-1
Sat May 4 10:30am Tai Chi Club–TA-3

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About OLLI E-News

OLLI E-News was created by Rod Zumbro, who served as its editor from 2005 to 2013.

Editorial Staff
Chief Editor: Paul Van Hemel
Associate Editor: David Gundry
Weekly Editor Team: David Gundry, John Nash, Sheri Siesseger, Leslie Vandivere,
Paul Van Hemel 

Proofreaders: Rebecca Jann, Susan Van Hemel, Linda Randall, Tom Appich, Roz Stark,
Jane Hassell
Backup Chief Editor: Alice Slayton Clark

Submissions: Members are encouraged to submit letters to the editor, letters to Ms. Ollie Ettakit (on etiquette matters), OLLI-related news items, articles, and photos. Submit material to:
Deadline: Tuesday, 6:00, for that week’s issue (Monday, 6:00, for letters to the editor); early submissions are greatly appreciated. Please limit articles to about 250 words.
Note: You can view past issues of OLLI E-News on the DocStore. To search the content of issues, use Search Our Site or put your search term in Google followed by “” without the quotes.

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