Arts & Entertainment

"The Songs that Won the War" Veterans Day Tribute at St. Kieran

BERLIN  — The cabaret act of Ben Sear and Brad Connor will be performing a Veterans Day tribute this Saturday, Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. at St. Kieran Center for the Arts. The vocal duo will be singing the songs that won the war — World War I, that is.

Sears and Conner have been performing together since 1989 and are among those rare performers who combine entertaining performances with outstanding historical research. They are especially known for their research in the music and lyrics of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood.

In 1996, they rediscovered a long-lost Irving Berlin song from 1916, "Santa Claus: A Syncopated Christmas Song," which they subsequently gave its modern premiere and first recording. During their search for the Berlin song, they also found an unknown Jerome Kern tune, "A Syncopated Christmas Carol," which they also premiered and recorded. Other research has led to the creation of a program of songs by "Girl Gershwins" including Dana Suesse, Kay Swift and Ann Ronell.

In 1997, they made music history with "Oh Kay, Oh George," a first-time concert pairing of songs and music by romantic and musical colleagues Kay Swift and George Gershwin, featuring many rarely heard Swift songs along with premieres of two unpublished George & Ira Gershwin songs.

Their reputation as Gershwin performers was honored by the selection of their recordings to be part of the interactive kiosk at the new George & Ira Gershwin Room at the Library of Congress.

Sears and Conner are the first cabaret act to be featured at Boston's Emerson Majestic Theatre, and at Boston's Wang Centre for the Performing Arts, they revived a show-biz tradition by presenting a pre-show concert of Irving Berlin songs for a showing of Berlin's classic film, "White Christmas."

With members of American Classics, they sang the National Anthem at the second game of Fenway Park's 100th birthday season in 2012. In 1999, they joined forces with voice and piano duo Valerie Anastasio and Tim Harbold to create and tour a Noel Coward centenary program, "Noel and Cole — Together With Music." In 2001, they created a new show, "Fred & Ethel — Great Songs of Astaire and Merman."

Sears’ first book, "The Irving Berlin Reader", was published by Oxford University Press in April 2012, and Connor is editing the new edition of the classic "American Popular Song, 1900-1950" by Alec Wilder.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for those under 18 and are available online, at the door on the evening of the show or at the art center’s office.

In addition, the Material Girls of the Berlin Quilters Guild are currently exhibiting their works in the main hall.

For more information, contact the Arts Center at (603) 752-1028; or go to or

11-2-17 Around Town

Around Town

This Week:

St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts, 155 Emery Street, Berlin
Saturday, Nov. 4, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. — Francofest Dinner
Take part in a celebration of homemade French cuisine, which includes tourtieres, baked beans, chicken pie and coleslaw. A number of sweet culinary delights will be served in the community room of the arts center starting at 4:30 p.m. Wine will be available for purchase. Tickets are $12 per plate and are currently available at the arts center office and on line at via the performing art series link. Tickets at the door will be $15.
Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. — Le Vent du Nord
New to the arts center is this highly acclaimed quintet whose vast repertoire draws from both traditional sources and original compositions rooted in the Celtic diaspora with a broad range of global influences. “Featuring button accordion, bouzouki, guitar and fiddle, the band’s sound is defined by the hurdy-gurdy, which adds an earthy, rough-hewn flavor to even the most buoyant dance tunes.” — Boston Herald Tickets are $16 for adults/$12 for those under 18 and are available in advance at the center office or online for a small fee or at the door on the day of the concert.

Dummer Town Hall, Hill Road
Saturday, Nov. 4, 4 to 7 p.m. — Annual Harvest Soup Supper,
This event is open to the public. Come and enjoy a variety of soups, chili's, and chowders, along with delicious homemade desserts and breads, prepared by the locals. Donations will be accepted in lieu of a fee. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Dummer Public Library.

Shelburne Town Hall, 74 Village Road
Saturday, Nov. 4, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Village Craft and Food Fair
All local residents and visitors to the region are invited to attend the 8th Annual Shelburne Village Craft & Food Fair. Volunteers have planned a fun day featuring both artisan handmade crafts, crave-worthy homemade comfort foods and tempting baked goods. There will be something for everyone. Funds raised will be donated to the historic Shelburne Union Church to support its building preservation and maintenance fund.

Lancaster Town Hall, 25 Main Street
Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3, Nov. 4, at 7 a.m., and Sunday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m. — “Noises Off.”
This play presents a manic menagerie of itinerant actors rehearsing a flop called “Nothing's On.” The audience sees this crowd onstage and backstage as they bumble through rehearsal and performances of the farce with romance and great dramas of their own, and laughs all the way. Tickets $10 at the door and credit cards are accepted. One warning: The show does have mild adult themes.

Next Week:

Lancaster Town Hall, 25 Main Street, Lancaster
Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 and Nov. 11, at 7 p.m. — “Noises Off.”


Miss Berlin-Gorham Scholarship Program This Saturday

The new Miss Berlin-Gorham 2018 will be crowned by the current title holder, Reagan Murphy, this Saturday, Nov.4. The 12th annual Miss Berlin-Gorham Scholarship Program will begin at 4 p.m. at the Medallion Opera House in Gorham.

The contestants for the title are: Bonnie Burke of Berlin, a Senior at UNH and daughter of Elena and John Burke; Megan Cunningham of Lisbon, attending Husson University and daughter of Gregory and Susan Cunningham; Kayleigh Heard of Twin Mountain, attending Southern NH University and daughter of Felicia Heard; MacKenzie Herlihy of Tamworth, attending Southern Maine Community College, daughter of Thomas and Alexandra Herlihy; Ashley Marsh of Laconia, attending Plymouth State University and daughter of Dawn Marsh and Josie Pearce of Hanover, attending Dartmouth College and daughter of Kevin and Tracy Pearce.

The winner of the Nov. 4 competition will receive a $5,000 scholarship, the first runner up will receive $500 and the second runner up will receive $250.

The program is the local preliminary for the next Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program to be held April 26-28, 2018, at Pinkerton Academy in Derry. In 2017 the program awarded over $70,000 in scholarships to young women making it the largest scholarship program for women in this state.

The public is invited to attend the event and enjoy the evening’s entertainment. Former Miss N.H. 2017, Lauren Percy, Miss N.H.’s Outstanding Teen 2017, Kenzie Goode, Miss Berlin-Gorham 2017, Reagan Murphy, and Miss Berlin-Gorham’s Outstanding Teen 2017, Olivia Halle will be among the entertainers.

Tickets for the event will be sold at the door priced at $12 for Adults, and $5 for seniors over 65 and students under 18.

Reagan Murphy Miss B G 2017Reagan Murphy, Miss Berlin-Gorham 2017


We can learn from tragedy to prevent future deaths

By Ed Parsons
Since before the Greeks, tragedy has made a great story. When a great deal can be learned from a tragedy in the outdoors to help prevent future fatalities, it is worthy of study and even the publication of a book about it.
Such is the case with the new book “Where you’ll Find Me: Risk, Decisions and the Last Climb of Kate Matrosova” by Ty Gagne.
On Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015, Matrosova, a 33 year old born in Omsk, Russia with a spectacular rising career in New York finance and with an impressive list of the world’s higher mountains notched on her accomplishment belt, died of hypothermia on Mount Adams in the Presidential Range.
It is easy to say she shouldn’t have been there. Yet many people were outside that day. I took a short snowshoe hike with friend Nancy Walch across a beaver pond in Lovell, Maine. Out on the treeless pond we bundled up as best we could in the frigid wind and soon scooted back to the tree lined shore. It was a fun hike.
Guided groups started up both sides of Mount Washington that day, but turned back at tree line or just above it. It was a positive learning experience for those involved.
Matrosova had climbed Mount Madison early that morning, the first peak in her ambitious plan to traverse the Northern Presidentials. Back in the col (the lowest point of a ridge between two peaks) by the AMC Madison Hut, she reached a point of decision: to turn back in the lowering temperatures and increasing wind, and go back down the Valley Way to the highway, where her husband had dropped her off at 5 a.m., or to continue to her next objective: Mount Adams. She turned south and continued.
The rest is a long and fascinating story of her climb and demise, and the ensuing rescue turned recovery, which involved numerous agencies and volunteers, many of whom risked climbing up into high winds with off-the-chart wind chills looking for her. On Sunday night, they hoped to find her alive, on Monday most were convinced it was a body recovery, which was correct.
When Gagne of Holderness heard the story of Matrosova he was captivated by it. An experienced winter hiker, he was also executive director of Primex, a public entity risk pool based in Concord that handles workman’s compensation claims for schools, municipalities and counties. Like any insurance company, they have interest in teaching people how to avoid accidents.
Gagne’s love of outdoor adventure, where courting some risk is a given, plus his extensive knowledge and connections in communities convinced him in late 2015 to start giving talks to Primex member public-entities on the Matrosova incident. It was titled “Trouble in the Presidentials: What a Mountaineering Accident Can Teach Us About Decision Making and Managing Risk." In the beginning, like other mountaineering lecturers, this included how dealing with climbing risks could inform those who were experiencing the risk in the public sector.
The outdoor adventure aspect of his presentation grew. He gave talks at L.L. Bean, Recreational Equipment International (REI), The Mount Washington Hotel, the AMC Annual Meeting and libraries. He has been invited back to L.L. Bean and the AMC Annual Meeting. Among the many comments he received after a talk was that it would make a great book.
Stonehearth Open Leaning Center (SOLO) is a wilderness medicine school off Tasker Hill Road in Conway. Gagne earned his Wilderness First Responder there in 2015. That is when he met Ted Walsh.
Walsh is co-owner of TMC Books, an offshoot of SOLO and based next door. It publishes wilderness first aid books and a wide variety of related books. Walsh is a trained illustrator and artist. After meeting Gagne, Walsh created some great watercolor illustrations for Gagne’s lecture on Kate Matrosova.
Gagne began writing the book last February, getting up at 4 a.m. weekdays to write before work. He finished it in May. It was published by TMC books, and came out in August. It is generously illustrated by Ted Walsh. His watercolors add a haunting touch to the events of February 15, 2015.

“Where You’ll Find me” is easily the most detailed book of a rescue in the White Mountains. It also draws from Gagne’s research in risk, and there are many quotes from experts and a lengthy bibliography at the end.
I read the book and didn’t get time to review it for a couple weeks. I realized then that I needed to read it again. Like the first time, I was drawn into the storm on the mountain and couldn’t put it down.
In North Conway, this book is available at White Birch Books, the Mount Washington Observatory valley facility and International Mountain Equipment. To order it directly from TMC Books, go to or call (603) 447-5589.
Since this is a hiking column, I am obliged to suggest a hike. It is with pleasure that I suggest a hike to Star Lake, a place that played a pivotal role in the Matrosova drama. Plus, I like water as a destination. To get there, starting at the Appalachia parking lot on Route 2 in Randolph, climb the Valley Way for 3.8 miles to the AMC Madison Hut, located just above timberline. From there, take the Star Lake Trail a short way to the top of the saddle between Mount Madison and Mount Adams.
Star Lake is a tiny mountain tarn only a foot or so deep. The view south from it out over the Great Gulf to Mount Washington is spectacular. Be sure to go there on a day with good visibility.
When Matrosova passed it on her way up to the steeper slopes of the Star Lake Trail toward the top of Mount Adams, she could see little in the distance as the storm winds and blowing snow grew in intensity around her.


Tickets still available for annual Home Health & Hospice Gala

North Country Home Health & Hospice Agency’s upcoming annual Home Health & Hospice Gala 2017 will again be held in the Grand Ballroom of the Omni Mount Washington Resort on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Tickets are available online at If you do not have access to a computer or internet, you can call Marissa Rexford at (603) 444-5317 or stop in to the North Country Home Health & Hospice Office located at 536 Cottage Street, Littleton.

North Country Home Health & Hospice Agency of Littleton and Northwoods Home Health & Hospice of Lancaster became one operating agency this spring, in order to bring the best, quality home health and hospice care to residents of Coos and Grafton Counties.

Proceeds from the Gala will support home care, hospice and long-term care programs, along with ancillary services provided by the agency. Raising these funds to help cover the uncovered costs of visiting nurses who travel the vast North Country territory seven days a week, 365 days a year, is needed in order to continue to provide quality home health and hospice care to patients throughout two of the northern-most counties in New Hampshire.

The evening will begin at 5 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a formal dinner. Throughout the evening there will be silent auctions as well as a live auction. Auction items will include art and photography by local artists, handmade quilts, travel tickets and admission to various amusements.