Montauk Community Notes, December 19

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Holiday decorating trends don’t influence me much. This week I hung the red foil star. Made in China, it folds down like a circular fan. It belonged to my parents, one of three clever holiday ornaments from the 60s that fold down into tidy flat shapes. The star goes over the kitchen sink, dangling over a very old donkey tail plant. The plant was my mother’s and still hangs where she placed it. Continuity and connection seem to be the important decorating rules, for me.One of the things I like best about this season is holiday music. Our choir director at Montauk Community Church, Lydia Shaternik Burns, by invitation sang with the St. Therese choir last year. This year all of us in the choir at Community Church were invited to sing. I and several other members were glad to participate.

Walking up to the St. Therese on a very windy Montauk weekday night (at least it wasn’t snowing) coming in from the cold and then climbing many stairs to the choir loft for choir practice in the new church was a rather thrilling experience. The architecture of St. Therese Church is stunning, with a steeply pitched roof constructed of a complicated framework of visible wooden beams, some of which, I’m told, were pieced together from beams from the original church which stood on the same spot. The choir loft sits high above the sanctuary, one looks right out from the loft to the beautiful beams.

St. Therese music director, Jane Hastay, welcomed us, visitors from Montauk Community Church, with gracious hospitality and we settled right in to singing warm-up exercises. Then we concentrated on learning correct pronunciations of Spanish translations to familiar carols. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed meeting other talented Montauk choristers who belong to St. Therese’s smaller choir, and also their Spanish choir.

Sunday’s performance was even more thrilling. What fun to dress up elegantly in black and file to the front of the church to stand next to the fabulous Harbor Bells English handbell choir!

Director of Harbor Bells, Valarie Bell, explained that the group have been performing together since 1993, first as a church choir and then in 2006 becoming a community choir. Participants listed on the program consisted of 11 women and just one man, plus the director. It was interesting this year to be seated right in front where I could more easily observe their technique, which I found surprisingly varied, from ringing, to thumping and even tapping the bells with special mallets similar to what one would use to play a xylophone. The group worked with hand-held chimes as well as handbells. Bob Stern, violinist, accompanied the handbell choir with a heavenly rendition of “O Holy Night.” My favorite was an arrangement from the “Nutcracker Sweet,” where chimes and bells were particularly apropos. There was also a fascinatingly ethereal medley from “The Phantom of the Opera.”

I was seated next to George Reichling of Montauk who told me about St. Therese Church’s three choirs. There’s the main choir, with the most members, which provides music during main Sunday morning Mass at 10:30 a.m. The Mass on Saturdays at 5 p.m. is when the small, more intimate choir, with whom we participated at the concert, sings. Saturdays at 8 p.m. the Spanish choir sings for the Spanish Mass.

I walked by Sweet’tauk on the way to choir practice and peeked into the windows to see an enticing array of interesting items. For those still searching for gifts for family and friends, a reminder that Montauk “Handmade for the Hoidays” Fair at Sweet’tauk Lemonade, 34 South Etna Avenue continues for one last weekend right through Monday, December 23, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit sweettauk.com for a list of participating vendors and descriptions of their inventory. Everything is handmade or crafted by local East End talent.

Tuesday, December 17, the grades 5 through 8 Winter Concert is scheduled at 7 p.m. at Montauk School. The pre-K Holiday Concert takes place 1 p.m. on Thursday, December 19, followed by the grades 3 and 4 “Winter Play” also on Thursday at 7 p.m. Friday, December 20 is the last day school is in session before winter break. School resumes Monday, January 6.

Pat Donna of the Friends of the Montauk Library sends word thanking our community for making the 2013 portion of the Montauk Library’s winter season a success. “Much Ado About Nothing,” a modern twist on Shakespeare’s comedy, will be shown this Thursday, December 19, at 7 p.m., at the library, for free, with free refreshments. The December 16, 2013 issue of New York Magazine named this film one of the year’s 10 best. It’s rated PG-13.

“Blackfish,” also rated PG, an impassioned documentary on performance killer whales, will be shown when the Friends of the Library free movie series resumes on January 2 at 7 p.m.

I was curious as to how the excellent movie choices are made. Pat Donna of Friends of the Montauk Library steered me to Sally Krusch, also of the Friends, who is responsible for picking the movies, out of so many that are available.

Ms. Krusch writes, “I always ask (and receive) many suggestions for films but there are several criteria for a film we show. Since I’ve been selecting the movies (this is my 3rd year), I’ve tried to show current movies, those that have not yet been on Premium TV stations such as HBO…

“I love movies. Always have. I’ve always tried to keep current about what is around and what is really worth seeing. I read The New York Times movie reviews regularly. I search though websites like Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB and Amazon, looking for films I might not have heard of. I have a few websites that I check regularly to see what is coming out on DVD. My go-to guy, for what is worth seeing, has always been Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun Times. Unfortunately, he passed away this past year so I’ve been working a bit harder finding other critics to trust.

“I try to remember our audience, which is diverse. Not all the picks will please everyone but they always will please someone. If we show an action film, it will have good acting, a good story and not be too violent. If we show a love story, it will not be too soapy (don’t want complaining husbands) and not have inappropriate scenes. We only show children’s movies if they are exceptional and have a story that will keep adults awake and amused. I personally feel that cursing never hurts anyone but how it is used implies the tone of the movie. The IMDB website has a parental advice feature and explains the intense scenes and what they are about. I rely on this tool heavily.

“After all this thinking, I run the movies I’m not sure about, by other people. Pat Donna Lukaszewska is one of the first people I ask. She knows the audience well. After we show the movie at the library, it is donated to the library and after a short period of paperwork, is available to be borrowed from the library. So if you miss it on Thursday night, you can take it out a few weeks later.”

Thank you, Ms. Krusch, for all your hard work researching excellent movie selections for your appreciative audience!

This Saturday, December 21, at the library you and your children are invited for “Winter Wonders Family Time,” from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Join in for crafts, games, and family fun! You may bring in photographs and other scrap book materials for the craft. The program is free of charge and, as always, visitors are welcome. Children’s librarian Julie Anne Korpi sends word that there will be no storytime Monday, December 30. Stories resume Monday, January 6 at 11:45 a.m.

The Library will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Please call the library at 668-3377 for more information and to verify scheduling in the event of inclement winter weather.

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