Thursday, May 25, 2006

"See You in September"

To the Great Class of 1969:

News of the Academy

With the arrival of the last issue of The Scroll today and the Academy's 207th Commencement looming this weekend, this seems like a fitting time to put my pencil down for the academic year. The teams finished their seasons earlier this week, and the Boys' Lacrosse program was once again a standout. By a total of only four goals, the Varsity lost an unprecedented three games this year and, as a result, finished #3 in New England and #11 nationally. The JV lost a single game by one goal, and the Boys' Reserve went 11-0. There is discussion in The Scroll of actually fielding two Boys' Varsity Lacrosse teams next year! Among the Girls' teams, the Tennis program excelled, with the Varsity finishing 9-2 and the JV going undefeated, 6-0.

As I previously have mentioned, Deerfield substantially distanced itself from the competition this year in terms of its desirability as a private secondary school. The admittance rate of 16.6% was lower than that of Andover by 4% and Hotchkiss by 5%. While the Koch Center remains behind schedule, the Academy is preparing to break ground next month on 8-10 new international squash courts which will be constructed between the wooden stairs leading from the locker room to the lower level and the Koch Natatorium which was built in 1995 to replace the pool as we remember it and which is the largest facility of its kind at any New England boarding school.

The 31st annual debating championships which I mentioned in my last e-mail went without a hitch, although the results made it apparent that the current generation could use some tutoring from O'Gara et al. The Academy, which has been drenched by the rain this Spring like many parts of New England, hosted its first Triathlon the following weekend. The event attracted 36 participants despite the conditions, and the diehards are already making plans to hold the event again next year, hopefully under better conditions.

By the Numbers

Given the time of year, I thought it appropriate to do a little year-end accounting:

- Number of Classmates currently on the e-mail distribution list: 105.

- Number of Classmates on the e-mail distribution list when School opened: 90.

- Number of Classmates mentioned (some multiple times) on Albany Road: 58.

- Number of Classmates whose photos appear in the Online Yearbook: 44.

- Number of donors last fiscal year: 55.

- Number of donors this year (with five weeks still to go): 40, including 6 new donors.

- Number of Classmates we have no way of contacting: 8 (Guthrie, Harding, Lawrence, Marx, Mitchell, Moore, Updike, White)

- Number of Classmates lost in cyberspace this year: 6 (Andresen, Grosvenor, Lee, McWilliams, Moriarty, Morine)

- Number of Classmates deceased this School year: 1 (Poirier)

- Number of Classmates registered on the new Deerfield Alumni website: 16.

Class News

As you know from prior e-mails, Rusty Young is now CEO of the Count Basie Foundation and, as such, is in charge of a fundraising drive to restore the Count Basie Theatre and provide operating funds. On Saturday, June 24th, he once again has arranged for the The Fab Faux to stage a benefit concert in Red Bank at The Count Basie Theatre. This would be a great time to see some classmates and support Rusty who has promised to allocate to Deerfield a portion of the proceeds from tickets purchased by Deerfield alumni. In order to encourage Rusty, I have offered to match the first $250 he allocates. Do both of us a favor and head down to Red Bank to hear some great Beatles music and relive an era. You can stay at the tony Blue Bay Inn if they still have any rooms (and you're feeling flush).

If you're looking for something to do this summer, you might consider a vacation at Wintergreen Resort near Charlottesville, VA where President Bob Ashton has overseen a $45 million upgrade over the past seven years. To combat higher gas prices Wintergreen decided to offer as much as $75 in free gasoline this summer as part of its "Get Away Soon," or GAS, special. The Wall Street Journal spoke with Bob last week who said the promotion was a way to "be ahead of the curve and offer people an incentive".

Earlier this year David Colker was re-appointed Chief Executive Officer and President of the National Stock Exchange for a seventh consecutive one-year term. Founded in 1885, the National Stock Exchange (known as the Cincinnati Stock Exchange for the first 118 years of its existence) became the country's first all-electronic stock exchange when it replaced its physical trading floor with a completely automated market in 1980.

Former congressional candidate and two time gubernatorial nominee of the Green Party Jonathan f/k/a "King" Carter is in the news again as part of a coalition opposed to the legalization of slot machines in Maine. Jonathan cuts a wide swath in Maine where he is one of six directors of the Maine Green Party. In his campaign bio he traces his Maine roots back five generations, although I remember him as being from New Canaan, CT. In any case, King went to Williams after graduating from Deerfield, received a M.S. in Botany and Forest Pathology from the University of New Hampshire, did doctoral work in Botany at the University of Maine and Environmental Studies at Antioch. Somewhere along the way to populism, King became the less regal "Jonathan" and taught, of all places, at Exeter. As a result, Jonathan unofficially becomes the 17th member of the Class to go into education, the largest single vocation.

Last night I was in Providence where I had the chance to catch up in person with Zech Chafee for the first time in 37 years. Over the course of a three hour dinner I learned, not surprisingly given his heritage, that Zech has spent most of his career since graduating from Harvard in the public sector, the longest stint of which has been spent in his beloved Providence as a US Attorney. Zech was characteristically modest in recounting the ceremony in which he christened the USS Chafee (which Mr. Lambert attended) as well as the little known fact that in May 1975 he was among the Marines sent to rescue the SS Mayaguez in which 15 Americans were killed.

Class Trivia

1. While this is not exactly "new" news, can you name the Classmate who was named by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to a panel to assist NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service in developing a comprehensive management system for pelagic longline fishing vessels that participate in highly migratory species fisheries? Hint: His grandfather was named "Man of the Century" by the International Maritime Hall of Fame.

2. Bonus Question: What exactly is "pelagic longline fishing"?

In Closing

This weekend Barry Berg P'02 '06 will be back on Albany Road to watch his daughter graduate. Barry's next door neighbor in Dean Hall, Will Colwell P'97, will be there as well to see his nephew graduate. I'll be back in touch this Fall after we have dropped off our son as a newly enrolled member of the Class of '09. Unofficially, I will be the 13th member of the Class to send a son or daughter to Deerfield and will join Mark Ewing P'07, Frank Henry P'08 and Steve Sheresky P'08 as part of the current alumni parent body.

I hope that all of you make the most of the summer and that you will remember Deerfield by June 30th by going to Giving to Deerfield before heading off if you have not already done so and are on the solicitation list. I am always interested in getting news that would improve the Class e-mails, photos for the Class blog, the coordinates of lost Classmates or any suggestions you might have.

Until September, all the best.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

May 2006 Letter

To the Great Class of 1969:

News from the Academy

I write to tell you that the Academy of which we are all alumni continues to excel in various ways:

- For the recruiting season just completed, the Academy admitted 17% of applicants (rounded up), the lowest rate in its history as well as the lowest rate among peer schools. Notwithstanding that, the Academy is slightly over-enrolled once again, due largely to the fact that 77% (up from 65% last year) of the accepted students who came to campus for a revisit day have enrolled.

- This Sunday, Deerfield will host the 31st Annual Deerfield Debate competition which will be attended by over twenty schools. It is considered to be the largest and best run independent school debate in the country. This is not such a far cry from when such silver-throated orators as Tom O’Gara, Neil Jacobs, David Colker and Bill Bowman won a trophy for Deerfield at what was then the Williams Tournament for the best all-round school performance. To quote Casey Stengel, “You could look it up” if you don’t believe me on page 77 of The Pocumtuck.

- The first edition of Spice Rack was published this week. Spice Rack is a publication of philosophical and religious works edited by students and members of the Philosophy & Religion Department. It is believed to be the only publication of its kind in the country.

- The Koch Center, the premier facility of its kind at any secondary school in the country, is nearing completion and will open later this year.

Class Trivia

It came as no surprise to anyone who thought back that John a/k/a “General” Mills was the classmate with so many degrees. John has put all of his scholarly endeavors to good use and, as some of you may recall from past e-mails, received two Edison Awards in 2003 for drafting and prosecuting patents having the greatest commercial benefit to the nation. Special kudos to John Lacey and Steve Bisbee for being the first two to guess. None of you, however, realized that Hank Minor is a practitioner of psychosynthesis (other than Hank of course who asked, “Where on earth did you dig up that bit of trivia on me?”). If transpersonal psychology and psychosynthesis is all Greek to you, you can read more on the topic by going to Wikipedia.

Class News

Tom Merrigan is headed for a September 19th showdown against the incumbent in the Democratic primary to be nominated for the western Massachusetts seat on the Governor’s Council which votes on whether to confirm the governor's judicial appointments. The winner will move on to the November 7th general election.

In case you didn’t make it to Manitoba last month to hear Douglas Arnstein, you can read what he has to say about Why Better Project Management Matters by clicking on the link.

Rusty Young, in his new capacity as CEO of the Count Basie Foundation, has organized the Fourth Annual Spring Benefit Concert & Gala featuring Smokey Robinson on June 17th and is looking for some deep pocketed sponsors. If you’re simply nostalgic for the sixties and would like to hear a musical legend, you can get tickets by going to Count Basie Theatre.

Judging from the photo, it looks like Christopher Beach hasn’t yet adopted casual attire since moving to San Diego in December to become President and Artistic Director of the La Jolla Music Society. You can read what Christopher’s got up his sleeve by going to Albany Road Redux: Life's a Beach.

Annual Support

I am pleased to report that we have begun to turn the corner since I last wrote and that the contribution spigot has opened again. For those of you on the solicitation list, this is the time to step up and participate in “May Madness”, a fundraising contest running from May 11 – May 18 with recognition to those classes producing the most donors, the most online gifts and the most dollars. As a result of our strong finish last year, our participation rate compared favorably with the classes of our era for the first time in memory, and I am hoping to improve on that this year. If you haven’t done so already, please share some of your good fortune with Deerfield before June 30th either by clicking on Giving to Deerfield or by sending a check to:

Office of Alumni Affairs and Development
Ephraim Williams House
Deerfield, MA 01342

Best wishes to all.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Life's a Beach

The 'new boy on the block' is excited ...

... to be part of a local institution: SummerFest

By Valerie Scher

February 12, 2006

At the La Jolla Music Society, life's a Beach – as in Christopher Beach, the organization's new boss.

Having assumed the post of president and artistic director in December, the former Manhattan resident is preparing for his first La Jolla SummerFest, which will celebrate its 20th year in August with an array of events in La Jolla, North Park and downtown.

“I'm the new boy on the block,” says the effusive and articulate Pittsburgh native whose enthusiasm is nearly boyish, despite the flecks of gray in his beard. Beach, 54, has been busy making contacts, planning events and getting to know the music society's staff, board members and supporters – all in an effort to learn how he can best serve the organization.

“When I was first called about the job, I was told that the music society was looking for someone to continue the growth and expansion. I said 'I'm your guy,' ” recalls the former director of the Performing Arts Center at New York's Purchase College, where he worked for 16 years. “The opportunity to build on the music society's strengths is really exciting to me.”

That involves presenting “great orchestras, world-class soloists and chamber music ensembles” as part of a varied mix that also includes jazz, world music and dance.

“Our mission is to bring the world of the performing arts to San Diego,” says Beach, whose musical tastes range from Bach to pop, Evgeny Kissin to Aretha Franklin.

As a newcomer to SummerFest, slated for August 3-20, he has a fresh appreciation for its blend of classical and contemporary music, dance and jazz. The 20th edition will include new works by resident composers Leon Kirchner, Magnus Lindberg, Bright Sheng and Bruce Adolphe as well as by Grammy-winning jazz innovator Wayne Shorter.

In addition, local choreographer Allyson Green will set works to music by Bach and Tan Dun. And the festival – which will honor the 100th anniversary of Shostakovich's birth and the 250th anniversary of Mozart's – will bring together two generations of festival participants to honor its own heritage.

The major planning was done by festival director and violinist Cho-Liang Lin in conjunction with Beach's predecessor, Mary Lou Aleskie, who left the music society to run Connecticut's Arts & Ideas New Haven. (She earned approximately $204,000 a year here; Beach's salary has not been disclosed.)

“I had never met Christopher until his appointment,” says Lin, now in his sixth year heading the festival. “I briefed him about SummerFest. He's a very fast study – very much up to speed on so many of the festival's aspects.”

Yet Beach has yet to adapt to other aspects of San Diego, including its relaxed approach to fashion. On a recent afternoon, he looked like a model for elegant East Coast office wear, from his custom-made monogrammed shirt to his sleek leather shoes.

“He's always dressed immaculately,” says Lin. “I feel like a homeless person next to him.”

Beach is also adjusting to the availability of fish tacos (“they're so strange I haven't had one yet”) and the sight of palm trees from the music society's downtown La Jolla headquarters. He even went so far as to describe La Jolla as “Greenwich with palm trees” in the New York Times.

Considerably more familiar to him are the posters and memorabilia that decorate his office. They're reminders of other places he has worked, including New York's Metropolitan Opera, where he served as an administrative assistant to director of production John Dexter in the late 1970's and returned in 1985 for a three-year stint as director of operations. There's also a framed composition – a “musical portrait” of Beach composed by the late composer-critic Virgil Thomson, whom Beach considered a friend.

Ask Beach what made him want to come to San Diego and he cites his experience last fall at a La Jolla cocktail party with music society board members and donors.

“I thought it was going to be easy,” he recalls. “But no – they stood me up and fired questions at me for 45 minutes. That was when I realized that the organization is committed to quality and that I wanted this job.”

Music – if not the music society – has long been integral to his life. The eldest of seven children from various marriages, he compares his mother to Katharine Hepburn and his late father to Frank Sinatra, saying that's why they divorced. The arts were highly valued in his large, blended family, and Beach began piano lessons at age 3.

“I can't even remember how many years I studied,” says Beach, who spent his formative years living on Cape Cod. “Countless piano teachers spent untold hours trying to find a grain of talent in me and failed.”

No matter. He began working backstage at area theaters as a teenager and, after graduating from Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, he gained valuable experience at such performing arts institutions as Baltimore Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, and Santa Fe Festival Theatre, which he founded in 1980 as New Mexico's first professional theater company.

After serving as managing director of PepsiCo Summerfare, the festival that took place on Purchase College's campus outside New York City, he became head of the college's Performing Arts Center in 1989 – a post he held until December.

During his 16 years there, the number of performances grew from 21 to 144 and ranged from classical music and jazz to dance and theater. At the same time, the center's budget expanded from $1.5 million to $5.2 million – making it larger than the music society's $3.2 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

“I learned how to patiently make something grow,” says Beach.

He'll apply those lessons at the music society, which continues to expand the range of SummerFest, both geographically and artistically. No longer simply a La Jolla chamber music festival featuring visiting musicians in venerable repertoire, SummerFest actively champions contemporary works.

But finding an audience-pleasing balance between new and old music isn't easy. Beach found that out a few months ago at a social gathering when he met a married couple who are music society donors.

“The woman said she just loved Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms. The contemporary stuff – forget it,” Beach remembers. “About a half-hour later, I spoke to her husband. He said he didn't care about Mozart, Beethoven and the others. He loved the contemporary work!”

Both Beach and Lin hope to build on last year's successes. That included strong turnouts at downtown concerts by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road project as well as Lalo Schifrin's tango-influenced “Letters From Argentina.” Meanwhile, most of the seats were filled at SummerFest's primary venue, La Jolla's 492-seat Sherwood Auditorium in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, where attendance was approximately 95% of capacity.
“We really want this year's SummerFest to be festive in the way it looks at what it has accomplished and what it will continue to do,” says Lin.

In a bow to the past, the opening night repertoire includes Martinu's “La Jolla Sinfonietta,” commissioned in 1950 by the Musical Arts Society of La Jolla, a forerunner of the La Jolla Music Society. And former artistic director Heiichiro Ohyama, the conductor-violist who guided the festival from 1985-1997, is on the performance roster, which also features such accomplished musicians as pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Gil Shaham and violist Cynthia Phelps.

This year's list of venues includes the recently renovated Stephen and Mary Birch North Park Theatre, which is new to the festival, along with downtown's Copley Symphony Hall and Sherwood Auditorium.

Sherwood is only about a mile from the cozy La Jolla house that Beach is renting. He shares it with his partner of 27 years, Wesley Fata, a former Martha Graham dancer who's on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama.

And Beach – long accustomed to Manhattan traffic – looks forward to the ease of driving from home to Sherwood Auditorium during the festival.

“I'll have no excuse to say I was stuck in traffic and late to a performance,” he says with a smile.