The Literary Committee of the Franklin Township Cultural Arts Council once again organized a stimulating and enjoyable afternoon for attendees at their May 18th, 2014 event featuring Donna Handy Hussey, author of the memoir “His Mercy Endureth”.
Ms. Handy Hussey who was born in Jamaica migrated to the United States some thirty one years ago where she pursued a career as a nurse. Her memoir outlines the challenges she encountered when, in a twist of fate, she found herself on the opposite end of that profession after being diagnosed with a rare cancer, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
From the start of the event, the Literary Committee’s commitment to showcasing young talent from around Franklin Township was evidenced by the appearance of young pianist Bryce Gray who confidently and effortlessly entertained the crowd on that medium. He was immediately followed by high school poet, Orobosa Asemota, whose contributions to the event held the crowd’s attention on topics such as the debilitating effects of social anxiety.
The main attraction for the afternoon Ms. Donna Handy Hussey did not disappoint. Her gracious demeanor and her optimism captivated audience members who appreciated, among other things, her reading an excerpt from the beginning of her book about summer activities she and her friends indulged in while growing up in her native Jamaica. This choice of excerpt was a pleasant surprise for the audience as it injected an unexpected lightness around the very difficult topic of Ms. Handy Hussey’s memoir.
Ms. Handy Hussey’s focus on the importance of having the support of the friends and family whenever one faces a health or other challenge was well received. This type of support, she stated, was instrumental in helping her through the obstacles she encountered on her journey. Questions from the audience revealed that a second book by Ms. Handy Hussey is in the works.
Donna Handy Hussey’s memoir “His Mercy Endureth” is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Event summary written by Lisa Browne.
Visit her website hismercyendureth.com>>
Substance is the world’s next upcoming independent recording artist
set to make a mark in the music industry.
She is a "Rhythmical Poet" with a style and magnetism
that you are sure to feel.
Substance has had the opportunity to share her gift on stages that span from
New York to Virginia and even touring in Costa Rica.
With music that embodies the very heart of Substance, her gift as an entertainer is inspirational, true, uplifting, fun, and generational with massive appeal. Substance is currently working on her first solo EP while performing via platforms that include theatre and stage musicals as well as her original works.
Substance has poured her soul into her music and is ready to give you an entertainment experience that is sure to leave an epic impression.
CONCEIVE ~ BELIEVE ~ ACHIEVE
Visit hollaforreal.com for more information.
Download the Wiz in Me song, just released!
Daniel Harris, a New York City native, began writing poetry when he retired from thirty-five years of teaching 19th and 20th British and American poetry at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Colorado and Rutgers University.
His poems relate to current history. Daniel is also a serious environmentalist and has been a leader in preserving forest land and in working for a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. He pursues long hikes which he uses to balance his creative work. Lastly, he founded Jewish Voices, an outreach education program with topics ranging from immigration poetry and Jewish women's poetry to poems about Israel and the Holocaust experience.
Elizabeth Pallitto holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the CUNY
Graduate Center. She is the author of Sweet Fire: Tullia d'Aragona's Poetry of Dialogue and Selected Prose, the first English version of the 1547 Rime of Tullia dAragona (c.1510-1556).
Her poetry collection That Other Garden was awarded first place by the Academy of American Poets. She has published translations of Italian poetry from the 16th century to the present, including Iraqi émigré poet Thea Laitef. From 2004-2010 she taught in Istanbul, Turkey, where she became interested in translating Turkish poetry. These translations are in Absinthe, Fox Chase Review, Blue Lyra, and forthcoming in the book Aeolian Visions/Versions Elizabeth’s work appears in various journals, including The North American Review.
Forthcoming in the Journal of Italian Translation
is her article entitled: “Maestra and Pupil: Images of Tullia and Penelope d’Aragona in Girolamo Muzio’s Elegiac Eclogues.” Dr. Pallitto teaches writing and creative writing at Rutgers University.
Briannagh Dennehy is a multi-forum sensation, performing as a singer, actor, and dancer. At only twelve years old, she has competed in the youth category at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, reaching the final four contestants, and was a finalist in Deborah's Got Talent (a fundraiser for Deborah Heart Hospital).
She sang the National Anthem to open a Somerset Patriots baseball game, danced ballet in the Princeton Ballet's performance of "The Nutcracker" at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton and the State Theater in New Brunswick, and she has appeared in television commercials and print advertising for Forman Mills clothing stores and in a short film, "Cake" directed by a NYU Tisch School MFA student that was submitted to a film competition. Briannagh is an accomplished pianist, performing in public several times a year.
She has released a music single entitled "American Fab Kid," along with a related music video. The song and video reflect the diversity of America and pride in that diversity expressed through fashion. Briannagh herself reflects this diversity, as a daughter of a Caribbean mother and an Irish-American father. She is working on her album, which includes another significant song, "Stand Tall Be Strong," which aims to encourage kids who are being bullied.
Briannagh is a young girl full of talent and ideas and aims to inspire other girls her age through video, song, and dance.
Learn more at http://www.briannaghdennehy.com/
Story borrowed from the January 2012 Tempo Magazine Article
Dr. Joyce Richardson-Melech is in her 31st year of teaching general classroom music in her hometown of Perth Amboy. She has been the 5th grade chorus director of Samuel E. Shull School, William C. McGinnis School, and the 3rd and 4th grade chorus director of A. V. Ceres School. She also has been the assistant band director of the Perth Amboy High School Band in charge of woodwinds from 1984 - 1994. Dr. Richardson-Melech has also been the musical director of the Perth Amboy High School play from 1989 – 1992, winning outstanding musical director awards from the Division of Community Education at Middlesex County College, Edison, New Jersey for “Grease” in 1989, and “Little Shop of Horrors” in 1990.
She was also honored with Best Musical Accompanist for “Little Shop of Horrors” in 1990 presented by the Joseph P. Hayes Drama Festival in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Other plays performed at Perth Amboy High School where Richardson-Melech served as music director were “Hair” in 1991 and “Leader of the Pack” in 1992.
As an elementary chorus director, Richardson-Melech has been instrumental in producing numerous plays, programs, and concerts, including Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Jungle Book, and Cinderella. Her chorus programs focus on themes such as Classic American Folksongs and Dance Hits Through the Decades and the chorus sings for the annual Holiday Programs. She has led the A. V. Ceres School 3rd and 4th Grade Chorus in participation with Kids in Concert sponsored by the Education Law Center of Newark, New Jersey for three consecutive years in 2009, 2010, and 2011. She has been named A. V. Ceres School’s Teacher of the Year for 2011.
Dr. Richardson-Melech is active at the state, national, and international levels as well as at the local level. She is a Fulbright scholar and is the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Summer Seminars Abroad Award given by the U. S. Department of Education in 2010. The seminar resulted in a curriculum project that integrates music, language arts, visual arts, and social studies, and is available through the University of Texas website. She was part of a school administration delegation to Russia in 2007 sponsored by People to People. In addition to this, she also was part of music education delegations to South Africa in 2010 and to Brazil in 2011, also sponsored by People to People. Richardson-Melech received the Lois Bailey Glenn Award for Teaching Excellence in 2004 presented by the National Music Foundation. She also received a grant from the American Education Initiative of the National Music Foundation in 2004 for a lesson plan design based on Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha Overture and Wall Street Rag employing Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. A children’s book entitled The Peacock of Halfway Tree: a Caribbean Fable was illustrated by
Richardson-Melech and published during 2004. An article was published in Sept. /Oct. Tempo Magazine entitled A Matter of Philosophy in Music Education: Reimer’s Aesthetic Experience Compared to Elliot’s Optimal Experience. As a designer of lesson plans, Richardson-Melech has contributed to the Teachers’ Resource Book published by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She is the recipient of the notable Excellence in Teaching Award given by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 2000, 2001, 2003, and 2005. Richardson-Melech is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in American Education, as well as Marquis Who’s Who in America, and Marquis Who’s Who of American Women. She is also listed in International Who’s Who of Musicians, 2000 and 2000 Outstanding Musicians of the 20th Century, both published by the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England.
Dr. Richardson-Melech sings with Philomusica Community Choir in East Brunswick and serves on the Board of Directors as Secretary. She is a parishioner and member of the choir of Historical St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Perth Amboy where she occasionally sings solos for Sunday services. She has performed as a mezzo-soprano soloist with the United Moravian Church in New York City 1980 – 1981 and the John Hus Moravian Church in Brooklyn where she was the mezzo-soprano soloist for Handel’s Messiah in 1998. She is a member of the Music Educators National Conference, the New Jersey Music Educators Association, the Central Jersey Music Educators Association, and the American Federation of Teachers. She is a life member of the Perth Amboy NAACP chapter. She holds bachelor and master of music in music education degrees from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a doctorate of musical arts in music education from Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts. Her dissertation is entitled An Analysis of the Listening Preferences of Elementary School Children for Western Classical Art Music in the Orchestra Setting. Dr. Richardson-Melech holds a certificate in supervision in addition to certification as a music teacher. She currently teaches kindergarten through fourth grades at the Dr. Herbert N. Richardson 21st Century School in Perth Amboy which is named after her late father, who was a music educator, music supervisor, and principal. Dr. Herbert N. Richardson was the first black teacher hired in the city of Perth Amboy in 1949 and was also a member of the Music Educators National Conference as well as the New Jersey Music Educators Association.
As part of an ongoing exhibition program sponsored by the Somerset Cultural & Heritage Commission, Franklin Township artists will hang 27 works of art on the walls of the lobby at 40 North Bridge Street (the old County Administration Building) in Somerville from Tuesday, October 22nd to Friday, December 6th during regular business hours. Artwork presented will be available for sale.
Jazz musicians entertain us with their spontaneity and improvisatory prowess. They are highly creative when it comes to improvising a tune, but yet they are extremely disciplined when it comes to their art. Their reverence for music is almost religious. The best of these musicians spend hours listening to music, understanding the intricacies of rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic structure. They know the history of music like the back of their hand, and they feel their place in the lineage of the legendary greats very deeply.
Julian Pressley is such a person. His improvisations on alto sax are inspired and edgy, but behind these imaginative trips into tunes lay the heart of a master musician. The Somerset resident was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Hammonton, NJ. It was the school band that gave him his start on sax – baritone sax. His Dad was a music lover, so there was always a lot of listening happening at home. It started with Count Basie and the other big bands, and progressed to Be-Bop. His Dad followed all the bands, even dressed like a jazz musician, and soon Julian was hooked on the music too.
Julian earned himself a scholarship to Florida A&M University. This is the place where he learned about discipline and “getting your act together.” The band was rehearsing eight hours a day. And it wasn’t unusual to see the percussion section out on the field at 2:00 A.M. Julian said this discipline prepared him for life on the road. He also switched from baritone to alto sax.
He set out for life as a jazz musician, and while working, he learned from those around him. Julian was fortunate to come up at a time when learning jazz was less of an academic pursuit and more of “on-the-job” training. “Music is all about traps – the people I worked with took the time to give me advice.” He made his way onto the Philadelphia scene, playing with the Edgar Bateman band, and quickly made a name for himself. Julian has toured and recorded with many jazz musicians, such as Lionel Hampton and Freddie Hubbard and has also backed such artists as the Four Tops and Temptations.
The advice he gives to younger players point to the reverence for music that he has. “They should learn the history of the instrument, the role that instrument plays in the band. They should take the time to learn the Great American Songbook, and really learn the music.” Good advice from one of the current jazz masters.
For a taste of Julian’s improvisations, see the video below:
It has been said that singing is praying twice. The parishioners of St. Matthias are certainly praying a lot with a music ministry that is in full swing. Eleven different ensembles meet for rehearsal during the week and are overseen by Joan Best Seamon, the Director of Music.
It takes a very gifted musician to grow a music ministry that large. Joan is an outstanding musician, and she also provides a warm and inviting forum for church members to express and share their gift of music, whether that person is a professional or amateur.
She was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Her father's job moved the family to many locales, but they finally settled in Somerset. Joan's love of music prompted her to become a Music Education major at Douglass College, where she studied piano with Maria Valgoczy. Joan also took a Masters Degree in Music History and Theory at Rutgers.
St. Matthias has always been Joan's parish. The Director of Music job opened in 1978. Joan began a career that would enable her to grow as a musician and provide a platform for others to express themselves through music. At the beginning, the Adult Choir, the Children's Choirs and a folk group were the ensembles in place. Joan found ways to include other forms of musical expression, such as the Umoja Imani Songsters Gospel Choir, the Filipino American Association Choir, a Handbell choir and a Youth Handbell Choir, and the "150" Central Praise Band.
It is sometimes hard to separate music from spirituality. Music has a tremendous power to touch the human spirit. Joan keeps finding ways to keep that spirit alive. The "150" Central Praise Band and the Children’s Choir recently performed at the Franklin Middle School to benefit a school in Tanzania, aiding the work of Sister Mary Vertucci, a Maryknoll sister whose family are longtime parishioners of St. Matthias.
Joan lends a creative touch to the music ministry by combining choirs from time to time to give members a chance to sing with others. She has commissioned new music. Chris Rath, the Assistant Choir Director, set to music the Parish Mission Statement. Joan beams at the talent that is all around her. Of course, this talent would have no outlet without the vision of the pastor of St. Matthias Church, Reverend Douglass J. Haefner, and the nurturing Joan provides. Those wishing to be a part of a great musical experience can find a home with Joan's encouragement. This is music ministry at its best.
As Amida, in Cavalli's opera, L'Ormindo (1974, San Francisco)
As soon as Steve begins to speak, you realize that this is a voice that is “at home” on the stage. The 25-year Somerset resident spent his career in the arts, as bass-baritone for opera companies in the United States and abroad, and as Artistic Director for Young Audiences of New Jersey for the past 23 years.
The Chicago native began his studies of opera Indiana University—Bloomington, which has one of the top music departments in the country. Steve said that the atmosphere there was highly competitive, which gave him a good understanding of how life would be when he moved to New York upon graduation.
However, graduation would occur during the height of the Vietnam War, and knowing that the draft was in full swing, Steve decided to audition for and enlist in the Army Field Band, the premier touring musical representative for the United States Army. The band provided Steve with experience as a singer as well as emcee duties, and after his 3-year enlistment he finally made his way to New York to begin his opera career.
Steve’s warm bass-baritone voice netted him roles in various opera companies and he received high praise from critics as he toured the United States and South America. The role of the painter Marcello in “La Boheme” is his favorite. Steve liked that character and enjoyed singing a role “…where you feel the warmth of the audience”.
Steve still performs opera with his group “Opera Works”, presented in schools through the Young Audiences of New Jersey. This group introduces opera to kids in a light-hearted approach. Young Audiences of New Jersey provides outreach to schools with various artistic groups so that kids can understand, relate to and be creative themselves with the presentations.
He is a firm believer in the goal of arts groups, such as the Franklin Township Cultural Arts Council, that the arts improves the quality of life for a town and introduces people to new things. Steve recently retired as Artistic Director of Young Audiences of New Jersey and is contemplating what he would like to do next. “Arts will always be a part of my life” and the arts have certainly been lucky to have Steve as a guiding force.