Notes for February 12th luncheon

Club President Rosemarie Rowney welcomed everyone back to our old home, the Michigan Union, and led the members in singing the national anthem.

Beth Fitzsimmons provided the inspiration for the day.  She suggested with Valentine’s Day coming, it’s a good day to think about our test: Will it build goodwill and better friendships?  She encouraged everyone to let others know how much you care, and how much joy they bring into your life.  “What we give will come back many times over.”

Jim Irwin led the members in the Ann Arbor Rotary Club Song, and in honor of loved ones, soldiers, those who are grieving, we sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

President Rowney thanked our volunteers for the day: Jim Irwin, singing and Deanna Relyea, piano; inspiration, Beth Fitzsimmons; greeters Lauren Heinonen and Heidi Vitso; attendance, Genny Geren; reporter, Paula Brown; photograpy, Fred Beutler; audio/visuals Frode Maaseidvaag and Mike Michelon; and mic runners Karen Gladney, Terry Foster and Heidi Vitso.

Guests included Gary Dawes, husband and guest of member Barbara Dawes; Peter Chen, a member of Rotaract and guest of Bev Seiford; and Millie Danielson introduced her daughter-in-law.

President Rowney wished a happy birthday to members Dawn Johnson, Danil Babushkin, Brendan Chard, Roger Lane and Griff McDonald.

Barbara Dawes helped us remember member Dr. Bob Kerry who passed away recently.  Barbara had worked with Bob in his private practice, as well as when he worked at Bayer Hospital and St. Joe’s.  Bob had a long and wonderful membership with Ann Arbor Rotary, receiving emeritus status in 2015, which he treasured.  Barbara remembers Bob as kind, generous, a good father, a good husband to his wife of 64 years, Gloria, and a good listener.  Barbara and Bob found they both share ancestors from the Keweenaw Peninsula, and called each other “cousin.”  He will be missed.

Club Updates were next covered:

Touch a Truck:  After a one-year hiatus, this will take place on May 16th from 9-noon, Ypsilanti High School parking lot.  Volunteers are needed, contact Ashish Sarkar.

Girls on the Run:  A coach summit is taking place on February 29th to train coaches for the upcoming event.  Volunteers are needed to hand out materials.  This will take place inside the Women’s Health Center at the St. Joseph Mercy campus.  Contact Lauren Heinonen.

Membership:  Norma Sarka reported we will soon be inducting 5 new members, but still need 5 more by the first of June to reach our goal.

Huron Interact Project:  Ed Wier reported the youth of Huron Interact are doing a fundraiser to support wildfire relief in Australia.  Students will be at next week’s Rotary lunch selling paper cranes.  He asks everyone to give generously and presented a paper crane to President Rowney.

Dennis Powers introduced our speaker for the day, Mark Clague, Editor In Chief, Gershwin Initiative, School of Music, Theatre and Dance Porgy and Bess.  The Gershwin Initiative has been a tremendous undertaking by the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance.  A read-through of the restored score of Porgy and Bess was performed by the UM orchestra to rave reviews.  Dennis and his wife attended a performance at the New York Metropolitan Opera, which was staging it for the first time in 37 years, and reported it was stunning and encouraged everyone to see it if they can.

Mark Clague shared his deep roots in the Ann Arbor community: He attended Pioneer High School, and recognized Rotary member Linda Carter as giving him his start in music, as well as many other members in the room who helped him build his music career.

Todd Gershwin, great nephew of George and Ira Gershwin, is a graduate of UM (’97) and reached out to dean Christopher Kendall about his archive of documents from his great-uncles and the possibility of restoring the score of Porgy and Bess to reflect the original intent of George Gershwin.  Mark shared a short video on the Gershwin Initiative, which has (and continues to) involve individuals from all over the world.  Most exciting is the engagement of 20 UM students, all ages, some music majors and others who are not.  In addition to Todd Gershwin’s archives, they had full access to the Gershwin documents at the Library of Congress.

Porgy and Bess is set in Charleston, SC, with the characters being members of the Georgia Sea Island communities.  There is a particular dialect of speech which the author, Debose Hayward, reflected in the book, including Gullah expressions and languages.  This has often been misunderstood as offensive depictions of African American speech.  In addition, a line was restored to the character Bess that indicates her commitment to her relationship with Porgy, something that’s been missing in modern versions.

Most interesting is the instrumental score had so many changes by George, it no longer matched the vocal score.  Through this project, the vocal score and instrumental score now match for the first time. The instrumental score also reflects original instrumentation.

Mark encouraged everyone to see the only showing of the restored version in this area on Saturday, February 15th at 12:55 p.m., Cinemark.

President Rowney thank Mark Clague and reminded everyone of next week’s program.  She will be on vacation in Florida for the next two weeks (as evident by her sunglasses, sun hat and paper drink umbrella).  Meeting was adjourned at 1:33 p.m.