Monday, April 21, 2014

First WMSC Brown Bag a Success

By Lee Smith
Marvin Ouwinga, Karen Mills and Nancy Davis   (photo L. Smith)
An outstanding Brown Bag “course” on Islam was guided by Marvin Ouwinga on April 17. In only 90 minutes Marvin masterfully presented a Reader’s Guide version of the development of the religion, the split between Sunni and Shia, and the epitome of Islamic culture hundreds of years ago, and introduced the present-day relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, with wide variance across the globe. The 15 participants (including some from the Norway area) were quite engaged, resulting in interesting discussion, especially regarding the potential for the future – either continued schism between the West and Islam or moderation and accommodation. The Bethel Inn had graciously opened their library, an excellent setting with good acoustics and comfortable seating. There was general agreement that the Brown Bag format was an excellent one and that there should be additional ones. Watch next fall for the second in the series, which is open to the public free of charge. If you have any ideas for topics or facilitators, you may contact Nancy Davis (; 207-381-1110). We are looking for current topics or other discussion themes that may be suggested - as this one was - by a popular WMSC class.

Some of the Brown Bag attendees  (photo L. Smith)

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Bladder Health and Changes: From Sneezes to Kegles

by Rosabelle Tifft

Speaker Cathy Heffernan
Cathy Heffernan, CNM, MSN, told an audience of over two dozen women at a recent To Your Health program that bladder control issues are not a normal part of aging. Cathy, a Certified Midwife with a Master’s Degree in Nursing, has over 30 years’ experience in women’s health care.

In her talk, Cathy explained what women need to know about their bladders. She discussed risk factors for incontinence or prolapse and different types of remedies that medicine might offer. She emphasized that strength is the foundation for good bladder health. Pelvic muscle exercises, known as “kegels,” are resistance exercises for preventive care or problems, and women should follow them regularly for good bladder health. Cathy explained how women can learn to do these exercises, how often they should be done, and how they can help with bladder issues. She also covered other interventions beyond kegels.

As indicated in the evaluations, the program was well received by participants who found it very interesting and educational. An up-to-date reprint covering kegel exercises was available for participants; additional copies of this handout are available in the Adult Ed Office at Telstar for interested persons unable to attend.

The program was sponsored by To Your Health of WMSC with the collaboration of Bethel Family Health Center and MSAD#44 Adult Education.

Ellen Crocker introduces TYH program
Rosabelle Tifft, Judy Whitman, Cathy Heffernan, Ellen Crocker and Jan Stowell

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Mozart’s Great Mass in C

by Iris Roberts 

Although Mozart’s works are among my all-time favorites, I have never developed an interest in the history of his ouvre. However, after having attended Tom Davis’s introduction to the “Great Mass in C Minor” and then attending the live presentation of the mass at the Franco Center in Lewiston on March 30, I feel a new page turning in my own education that is most satisfying.

Tom placed Mozart in context with Bach, Handel, Haydn, and Beethoven. This overview was helpful in identifying influences on Mozart. As we listened to a recording, there they were, unmistakably: Bach, Vivaldi and Handel! Tom also helped us to understand how deeply spiritual the whole was, and how innovative using brass instruments was for a church work at that time. The very structure of the whole was an amalgam of a missa brevis and a "high mass,” with the text from the Ordinary alone but written with a grand sound intended—with double chorus, solo instruments, four soloists, and the insertion of a pastoral dance style into the Credo. Perhaps this overabundance of innovation is what caused the piece to be misunderstood in Mozart’s time and why it was never finished.

I was entranced by the recording and Tom’s presentation, and could hardly wait for the live performance! Recalling the movie Amadeus, I did wonder whether the several reverences to “too many notes” in that film would apply to this composition, performed live.

The Franco Center was more enchanting than I expected. With ascending theater seats filling what had once been a church’s nave, the whole area was filled with natural light. What a lovely, interesting performance venue for a rainy New England Sunday in early spring! At the appointed time, members of the Androscoggin Chorale filed into the former chancel to join the Maine Music Society Chamber Orchestra. As soloists took their seats, an air of anticipation filed the place, and after generous applause for sponsors, director John Corrie entered. He radiated warmth, approachable confidence, and knowledge. His remarks about the work reinforced what we had learned earlier.

The baton went up, and this wonderful director, channeling all those notes into a whole of so many harmonious complexities, gave an uplifting glimpse into one of the greatest musical minds ever. I felt that Mozart was sending his very soul to reach for something beyond himself, and this director and these musicians took the audience with them to that place. They sustained an intensity from the softest pianissimo to the most powerful forte. This shared emotional connection is what makes live performances so fulfilling. The audience’s only response: a spontaneous standing ovation to express our return gift of appreciation to the director and the performers.

How fortunate we are in Western Maine to have opportunities like this! I, and I’m sure many others, hold the deepest appreciation for so many people who, collectively, made this beautiful afternoon possible. 

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