Authors Posts by Heidi Sutton

Heidi Sutton

Heidi Sutton

By Heidi Sutton & Ernestine Franco

Winter was a long time coming to Long Island this year. The first snow did not fall until the weekend of Jan. 23, and then it fell with a vengeance — some areas of the Island were covered with more than 2 feet of snow. Following this, we went into the deep freeze the weekend of Valentine’s Day, with temperatures plummeting to minus 20 with the wind chill. To really confuse people, animals and plants, the thermometer reached 56 degrees two days later and we had a rainstorm.

So this year, it is not just gardeners who can’t wait for spring. Everyone may be checking out All-America Selections’ recently announced National Winners for 2016 — new varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables that will do well in any climate throughout the United States and Canada. With fun names like Tomato Candyland Red, Strawberry Delizz and the exotic Mizuna Red Kingdom, these cultivars are the best of the best, beating out thousands for superior taste, disease tolerance, unique colors and flavors, higher yield, length of flowering and harvest, and overall performance.

Here’s what the judges had to say about these award winners:

None of these AAS winners are bred or produced using genetically modified organisms (GMOs). For a complete list of 2016 new plants winners chosen by the AAS by region, visit their website at

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Children and their parents flocked to the St. James Lutheran Church in St. James last Sunday afternoon for a Scandinavian Children’s Heritage Fair.

Representing Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland, the event was hosted by the Sons of Norway. Children took part in a Little Vikings tour by playing Uff Da Bingo while learning Norwegian words, weaving Danish heart baskets out of felt and decorating shields and swords. They also took part in Norwegian rosemåling (decorative painting), rock painting and troll making.

Guests were also able to sample delicious traditional desserts including Lefse, Norwegian Krumkaker cookies, heart waffles, sandkaker and Swedish coffee bread. The event also offered many types of Scandinavian-themed souvenirs for sale.

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Dana Urbinati and her team of students took a break from rehearsals Monday night to pose for a photo. Photo by Heidi Sutton

For the past 29 years, students  at Comsewogue High School have showcased their eclectic talents with the community at “A Night for Jason,” a student-run variety show produced in honor of Jason Mariano, a child in the school district who succumbed to leukemia in 1987. This year’s event will take place on Friday, March 18, at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.

The money raised from the event benefits Friends of Karen, a tristate children’s charity with an office in Port Jefferson, that offers emotional, financial and advocacy support for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families in order to keep them stable, functioning and able to cope.

“This is always such a great way to keep our students involved in caring for our community,” said Dana Urbinati, a teacher at the high school and coordinator of the event. “Along with the talents and energy of everyone involved, we want people to know that the funds raised are going to help some very special families in our communities.”

A diverse  mix of talents have graced the stage in the past and this year is no exception. Emceed by Jason Kellar, Eli Smith, Aleyna Kaya, Nicholas Keller and Ethan Wright, the evening will feature 22 acts including musical performances by the high school’s Jazz Band and female choir, Tapestry, along with singing, dancing, comedy and student bands. “This is an extremely talented, hardworking group and I’m just so grateful that we are able to help such an amazing charity,” said Urbinati.

Comsewogue High School is located at 565 N. Bicycle Path, Port Jefferson Station. Tickets for this one-night event are priced at $12 in advance by calling 631-474-8179 or $15 at the door. For more information about Friends of Karen, call 631-473-1768.

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A fairy house (Bayport Flower House). Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Town of Brookhaven’s annual Home & Garden Show welcomed spring early last weekend. More than 1,400 people visited the event at the Holtsville Ecology Site that featured over 30 local vendors offering a plethora of home improvement ideas. In addition, free adult educational workshops and hands-on classes for children were offered.

Pansies in a variety of colors (Bloomin Haus). Photo by Heidi Sutton
Pansies in a variety of colors (Bloomin Haus). Photo by Heidi Sutton

The event will continue on March 19 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and March 20 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 per adult, children 16 and under are free. For more information, call 631-758-9664, ext. 18.

Adult workshops, Saturday, March 19
11:30 a.m. — Guide Dog Foundation/America’s VetDogs with Susan Stevens, Certified Health Coach
1 p.m. — Tree Care & Organic Options for the Homeowner by Evan Dackow of Jolly Green
2:30 p.m. — Composting by Mike DesGaines of  TOB Dept of Waste Management
4 p.m. — Dahlias, the Bloom With Many Faces by Joe Lysik and Joe Bonomo
5:30 p.m. —  Caring for Your Houseplants by April Perry, Ecology Staff

Kids Workshops, Saturday, March 19
Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Recycled Birdfeeder Activity by Nicole Pocchiare of TOB Dept of Waste Management
1:30 to 3 p.m. — Water Conservation Craft by Molly Hastings — Environmental Educator/Park Ranger, TOB

Adult workshops, Sunday, March 20
11:30 a.m. — Hydrangeas on Long Island by Judy Ogden, Ogden’s Design & Plantings Inc.
1 p.m. — Herbs in the Kitchen by Anne Marie O’Neil,  President of HALI
2:30 p.m. — The Carmen’s River: An Amazing Natural Beauty by John Cardone, author and photographer
4 p.m. — TBA

Kids Workshops, Sunday, March 20
Noon to 1:30 p.m. — Gardening Fun With Kids by Kelly Smith, Ecology Site horticulturist
1:30 to 3 p.m. — Gardening Fun With Kids by Rosa Goncalves, Ecology Site horticulturist

Please note: Kid’s classes while supplies last and adult workshops subject to change.

From left, Hans Paul Hendrickson, Steven Uihlein, Andrew Gasparini and Dana Bush in a scene from ‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

When Theatre Three announces the return of a perennial favorite, “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit,” everyone knows that spring is just around the corner. Even more fitting, this year marks 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter, who created all of the wonderful characters in the production, from Mrs. Rabbit, Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail to Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and the McGregors. Written by Jeffrey E. Sanzel and the late Brent Erlanson, the show mimics Potter’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” closely with a kinder, softer story line. Sanzel directs a talented cast of eight adult actors to bring us this delightful musical that has become a wonderful tradition for families all over the Island.

The cast of ‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.
The cast of ‘The Adventures of Peter Rabbit.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

The story follows a mischievous Peter Rabbit who, because of his insatiable appetite for parsley, cucumbers, tomatoes, string beans and lettuce, is constantly drawn to Mr. McGregor’s garden despite his mother’s wishes. Many trips to the garden patch with his cousin, Benjamin Bunny, eventually wear down the farmer’s patience, ending in a great chase scene through the theater, which is reenacted in slow motion later on.

The show opens with a sweet rendition of “Morning” by Mrs. Rabbit, played by Amanda Geraci, and never loses its momentum. Marquéz Catherine Stewart, Jenna Kavaler and Melanie Acampora are the good little bunnies Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail, respectively, who spend most of the show trying to find their “wayward brother” Peter, played with unbounded energy by Hans Paul Hendrickson. Dana Bush returns as a patient Mrs. McGregor after a few year’s absence and Andrew Gasparini tackles the role of Mr. McGregor for the very first time, playing the stingy and cranky farmer perfectly, sans the desire to eat the rabbits. Steven Uihlein, who plays the role of cousin Benjamin Bunny, rounds out the cast and does a terrific job.

Imagination plays a big part in the show, as the set design is sparse, utilizing a trapdoor on stage as a rabbit hole and constructing a makeshift scarecrow. Costumes, designed by Teresa Matteson, are on point, from Mr. McGregor’s overalls to the little white tails on the rabbits. Kudos to Michelle Manda for a terrific job on the lighting, especially during a Mission Impossible scene when Peter and Benjamin attempt to retrieve Peter’s clothes from the scarecrow.

The musical numbers, written by Kevin F. Story and accompanied on piano by Steve McCoy, are all showstoppers, especially “One More Time Around,”  “Beware! Mr. McGregor!” and “Peter’s Socks,” which Stewart, also the choreographer, has converted to a fun hip-hop piece. All of the songs are incorporated into the finale, a perfect ending to a Theatre Three classic.

Souvenir bunnies in various colors are up for sale during intermission, and the entire cast is in the lobby after the show for a meet-and-greet.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” through March 26. Children’s theater will continue on the Mainstage with “Cinderella” from April 16 to June 11, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” from July 8 to Aug. 5 and “The Misadventures of Robin Hood” from Aug. 5 to 13. All seats are $10. For more information, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit

HAC Executive Director Marc Coutrade with Honorable Mention winner George Gough. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Huntington Arts Council, 213 Main St., Huntington, held an artist reception for its latest exhibit, Earth, Air and Water: A Celebration of Tri-State Wildlife and Nature on Feb. 19. Executive Director Marc Coutrade thanked a packed house for coming and then introduced the judge, New Jersey-based photographer Andrew Darlow.

“It was really an honor to see everyone’s pictures and, like every judge says, it was extremely difficult to choose. There was so much great work and I felt like these were really pictures that were from the area around people’s homes — I could feel it. So often I’ve judged contests with pictures from Bali and all these other places and that’s great but I really felt that spirit and I’m so happy that we kept it in our little Tri-State region,” said Darlow.

Best in Show went to “Crab Meadow Sunset” by Irene Andreadis. Darlow stated, “[The photograph] stands out both as an ideal representation of the show’s theme and for its sheer beauty. The photographer captured the sunlit foreground in sharp focus, with its wonderful desert-like texture. The eye is then led toward two bodies of shimmering water captured perfectly with a bird in flight that appears to have been heaven sent.”

The judge also commented on Honorable Mention “Osprey in the Rain” by Tom Reichert, stating, “This image captures the power of nature via the movement of the rain in the air, plus the miracle of life in the form of a young bird of prey” and Honorable Mention “Cutchogue Barn” by George Gough —“The photographer skillfully combined just a hint of foreground brush to draw us into the image and framed the photograph to make us feel as though we were standing there together with him or her, feet (and possibly a tripod) firmly planted in the snow.”

The photography exhibit will run through Feb. 27. For further information, call 631-271-8423 or visit

Farmers markets have certainly evolved over the years and the Long Island Winter Farmers Market at the Jack Abrams School at 155 Lowndes Ave. in Huntington Station is no exception.

On a recent Sunday morning, the market was bustling with activity. Bread, vegetables, preserves, fudge, cheese, granola, salad dressings, smoked salmon, pickles, champagne tea , yogurt and coffee, to name just a view, were available for purchase as live music played.

Vendors, who came from as far as Brooklyn and Manhattan, offered free samples of their products and were eager to answer any questions.

The Huntington Station winter farmers market will run every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through April 24. For more information and a list of select vendors, visit

Jenna Kavaler and Hans Paul Hendrickson in a scene from Theatre Three's 'Little Red Riding Hood' [1/28/16, 11:01 AM] Heidi Sutton ( Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

Making its world premiere on Theatre Three’s Mainstage in Port Jefferson, “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today,” is a musical gem. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin F. Story and directed by Sanzel, this modern version follows the classic Grimm fairy tale closely but also uses the tale as a tool to teach “stranger danger” in an effective way. The six-member adult cast, coupled with a clever and witty script, come together to create a truly special production.

The story revolves around Amanda Sally Desdemona Estella Barbara Temple, whom everyone calls Little Red Riding Hood because she always wears a red cape. Asked by her mother to go check on her grandmother, Granny Beckett, she ventures out over the river and through the woods to bring her some Girl Scout cookies. Her twin sisters, Blanche and Nora, accompany her halfway there; but Little Red Riding Hood sends them back home because Nora has a cold. Now alone, she encounters a stranger (William “Billy” de Wolf) and commits a series of safety mistakes, putting her grandmother and herself in grave danger.

Steven Uihlein serves as narrator and does a wonderful job introducing each scene. Uihlein also steps in periodically to play numerous supporting roles, including a policeman and a mailman.

Jenna Kavaler is perfectly cast as Little Red Riding Hood and tackles the role with aplomb. Her character’s changes in mood from annoyed to scared to confident are compelling.

The entire cast of ‘Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Melanie Acampora shines in the delicious role of Mrs. Temple, Little Red’s mother, who is so forgetful she can’t even remember her children’s names or who’s who.

Granny Beckett is superbly played by Andrew Gasparini, who clearly enjoys the role, poking fun at himself with an occasional deep note. His solo, “Who’s at My Door?,” is terrific.

Compared to the original tale, the wolf — played to the hilt by Hans Paul Hendrickson — is a relative pussycat, asking the audience if they have any steak or a bone, as he is always hungry. And his howl is not too shabby. Spoiler alert: He doesn’t eat Granny Beckett — she gets away.

Perhaps the most difficult role in the show is the one of twins Blanche and Nora, both played by Amanda Geraci. Geraci switches roles effortlessly, skipping on stage as Blanche, disappearing behind a wall and then returning with a shuffle as Nora, who is fighting a terrible cold. It’s not an easy task, but she pulls it off with perfection. Any minute audience members expect both of them to appear on stage — Geraci is that convincing.

Sanzel knows his target audience well and does an excellent job keeping the story moving along in a fun and captivating way. The action scenes are a nice touch, as the wolf chases Granny and Little Red around Granny’s house and is then chased by the entire cast.

In the last 10 minutes of the show, the actors discuss the safety mistakes that Little Red Riding Hood made, including talking to strangers, and what she should have done instead, a valuable lesson in a less than perfect world.

Teresa Matteson’s costumes are spot-on, from the head-to-toe fake fur on the wolf to Granny Beckett’s nightgown and shawl to Little Red’s cape. The musical numbers, accompanied on piano by the multitalented Steve McCoy, are the icing on the cake, especially “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Granny, What’s Happened to You?” Choreography by Sari Feldman is as top-notch as always.

The great story line, the wonderful songs and the important message it conveys makes this show a perfect reason to step in from the cold. The entire cast will be in the lobby after the show for photo-ops.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Little Red Riding Hood – A Tale of Safety for Today” for ages 3 and up through Feb. 20. Tickets are $10 each.

The season continues with “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” from March 5 to 26, followed by “Cinderella” from April 16 to June 11.  For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit

From left, Councilmembers Valerie Cartwright (D-Port Jefferson Station) and Dan Panico (R-Manorville), Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Handler Greg Drossel with Hal, Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) and Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro celebrating Groundhog Day in 2014. Photo by Elyse Sutton

Pennsylvania may have the legendary groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, but New York has Malverne Mel, Holtsville Hal, Sweetbriar Sam and even Staten Island Chuck and Dunkirk Dave.

In the Town of Brookhaven, the great prognosticator of prognosticators, Holtsville Hal will be the star of the day as the Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center will celebrate with its annual Groundhog Day event on Feb. 2 with the gates opening at  7 a.m. Wayne Carrington will return as the master of ceremonies and Hal will be handled by Greg Drossel.

According to tradition, if a groundhog sees its shadow after stirring from hibernation on Groundhog Day, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; if not, spring should arrive early. After a relatively mild season until this past weekend, anticipation into what Hal’s prediction will be is building. Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro will serve as “Mayor of the Day” and reveal Hal’s famous forecast at approximately 7:25 a.m. in an official ceremony.

“Groundhog Day at the Ecology Site is always an enjoyable tradition for so many local families,” said Losquadro in a press release. “After the last two winters, we’re hoping Hal will not see his shadow and predict an early spring. I want to thank the employees at the Ecology Site for making this a much-anticipated event each year in Brookhaven Town,” he added.

“Town residents have been braving the cold weather to celebrate Groundhog Day for years,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine in the same press release. “Last year’s weather caused Holtsville Hal’s public appearance to be canceled. This year, I look forward to some good news from Hal.”

Following the ceremony, visitors are welcome to enjoy some free hot chocolate and visit the more than 100 animals that live at the animal preserve, which will remain open until 3 p.m.

The Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center Animal Preserve is located at 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville. Parking is free. For more information, call 631-758-9664.

Mummenschanz is headed to Stony Brook’s Staller Center in 2016. Photo from Staller Center

After a brief hiatus, Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts is gearing up for its second half of the 2015-2016 season with an exciting lineup filled with dance, music, film, comedy, theater and much more.

“The Staller Center season here at Stony Brook goes into full swing with the family-friendly mime theater troupe, Mummenschanz, on Sunday evening, Jan. 31. The humorous and whimsical sketches will surely entertain all ages. The season continues with variety in mind, from the actor, comedian and author Paul Reiser in a stand-up comedy show to a wonderful cirque theater, Company Finzi Pasca, in a surrealistic, Salvador Dali-inspired performance entitled ‘La Verita,’” said Alan Inkles director of the Staller Center. “We also have Philadelphia’s Walnut Theatre performing ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten,’ Eugene O’Neill’s romantic drama, which will give our patrons an unforgettable theater experience,” he added.

A scene from ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten.’ Photo from Staller Center
A scene from ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten.’ Photo from Staller Center

The lineup will be as follows:

Musical Performances

The Aulos Ensemble, featuring cellist Myron Lutzke; oboist Marc Schachman; violinist Linda Quan; harpsichordist Arthur Haas; and flutist Christopher Krueger will present a concert titled The Bach Connection on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Recital Hall. Tickets are $38.

Starry Nights returns on Tuesday, March 8, at 8 p.m. in the Recital Hall with Carol Wincenc on flute; Nancy Allen on harp; Nicholas Cords on violin; Gilbert Kalish on piano; and Colin Carr on cello. The  program will include works by Bach, Ibert, Debussy, Ravel and Fauré. Tickets are $36.

Enjoy the sounds of Louisiana Creole dance music as celebrated accordion player and zydeco musician Stanley “Buckwheat Zydeco” Dural takes the stage in the Staller Center’s Recital Hall with his band, on Saturday, March 12, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $42.

Featuring current and former stars of Broadway’s smash hits “Jersey Boys” and “Motown: The Musical,” The Doo Wop Project will take the audience on a musical journey with tunes from Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and more on the Main Stage on Saturday, March 19, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $42.

The center’s Gala 2016 will be held on March 5 at 8 p.m. on the Main Stage. Natalie Cole, who passed away on Dec. 31 from congestive heart failure, was originally scheduled to appear in concert. Peabo Bryson and Vanessa Williams have graciously stepped in as replacements. The two celebrated singers will entertain with solos and duets. Tickets are $75 each.

The award-winning Emerson String Quartet returns to the Recital Hall on April 5 at 8 p.m. for the third concert in their series, Passing the Torch, featuring works by Haydn and Beethoven. Tickets are $48.

A Judy Garland tribute featuring Hilary Kole will grace the Recital Hall stage on Saturday, April 9, at 8 p.m. Titled Over the Rainbow, the evening will feature songs made famous by Garland including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “The Trolley Song,” “Look for the Silver Lining” and more. Tickets are $42.

Berenstain Bears Live! is headed to Stony Brook’s Staller Center in 2016. Photo from Staller Center
Berenstain Bears Live! is headed to Stony Brook’s Staller Center in 2016. Photo from Staller Center

Artists-in-residence The Calidore String Quartet will return in concert to the Staller Center on Wednesday, May 4, in the Recital Hall at 8 p.m. With special guests The Emerson String Quartet, the program will include works by Bach and Mendelssohn. Tickets are $36.


Without uttering a word, the famous Swiss mime theater troupe Mummenschanz will entertain the Staller audiences with their masks, shadow, light and endless creativity “turning the ordinary into the extraordinary” on the Main Stage on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $42.

Company Finzi Pasca’s “La Verita” will transport the audience to another world as performers pay a theatrical homage to the life and work of artist Salvador Dali on Saturday, April 16, on the Main Stage at 8 p.m. Tickets are $42.

The season will close with the Paul Taylor Dance Company and an evening of modern dance on Saturday, May 7, at 8 p.m. on the Main Stage. Tickets are $42.


Comedian, actor and author Paul Reiser will bring his stand-up show to the Main Stage on Saturday, Feb. 6, at 8 p.m. as part of his national comedy tour highlighting the funny things about life, love and relationships. Tickets are $48.


The Walnut Street Theatre will present Eugene O’Neill’s final play, “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” on the Main Stage on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $36.

Buckwheat Zydeco is headed to Stony Brook’s Staller Center in 2016. Photo from Staller Center
Buckwheat Zydeco is headed to Stony Brook’s Staller Center in 2016. Photo from Staller Center

Not Just for Kids

As part of the Not Just for Kids family entertainment series, the center will present An Afternoon with the Bach Family featuring The Aulos Ensemble on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 4 p.m. in the Recital Hall. The one-hour program is designed specifically for school-age musicians and their families. Tickets are $20 each.

Adapted from the classic children’s book series by Stan and Jan Berenstain, Berenstain Bears Live! will take to the Main Stage with “Family Matters The Musical” on Sunday, March 13, at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 each.


The Staller Center’s spring semester films are all scheduled for Friday evenings. The lineup includes the latest  award-winning documentaries and star-studded feature films.

The series begins on Feb. 5 with the screening of the documentary “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” at 7 p.m. followed by the thriller “Shanghai” starring John Cusack at 9:30 p.m. “A Ballerina’s Tale,” a documentary on the American Ballet Theater’s first African American Principal Ballerina Misty Copeland will be screened on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. followed by “Suffragette” at 8:45 p.m. “Harry and the Snowman” will be screened on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. followed by “Freeheld” at 9 p.m.

After a short break, the series returns with a screening of “Brooklyn” on April 1 at 7 p.m. and “The Danish Girl” at 9:15 p.m. The final films will be screened on April 8 and include “Youth” at 7 p.m. and “Macbeth” at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are $9 adults, $7 seniors, students and children. A film pass may be purchased for $25.

The Met: Live in HD

As part of The Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD series, the center will present live performances of “Les Pecheurs de Perles” (Bizet) on Jan. 16 at 1 p.m. and “Turandot” (Puccini) on Jan. 30 at 1 p.m.; and encore presentations of “Manon Lescaut” (Puccini) on March 6 at 1 p.m., “Madama Butterfly” (Puccini) on April 3 at 1 p.m., “Roberto Devereux” (Donizetti) on April 17 at 6 p.m. and “Elektra” (Strauss) on May 14 at 7 p.m.

All operas are screened in the Main Stage theater. Tickets are $22 adults, $20 seniors, $15 children 12 and under.

Music Department

The Stony Brook University Music Department will also present a number of concerts and recitals, including performances by the Stony Brook Opera, Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra, the Contemporary Chamber Players, the Stony Brook Composers and choral ensembles.

For tickets and further information, visit or call 631- 632-ARTS (2787).