Arts & Entertainment

Joanna Kiryluk during her trip to the South Pole in 2009. Photo from Joanna Kiryluk

By Daniel Dunaief

She traveled to a place she felt might have been as unfamiliar as visiting the moon or Mars. The project that is such a large part of her life is looking for signals sent from well beyond those relative celestial neighbors.

Joanna Kiryluk, an assistant professor of physics at Stony Brook University, didn’t travel off the planet, although she visited a remote location that was considerably different, less populated and at a higher altitude than the sandy beaches of Long Island. In 2009, Kiryluk traveled to the South Pole as a part of the aptly named IceCube project, which was completed in 2010. Kiryluk and hundreds of other physicists around the world are studying the information gathered from detectors drilled deep into the ice below the surface.

Kiryluk is studying tau and electron neutrinos, which are created as products of cosmic ray interactions and carry very high energies. Scientists do not know which sources in the universe are capable of creating such high energies. Unraveling this is one of her research goals. The neutrinos produced by collapsing stars, or supernova, typically have energies that are about a million times smaller than the high-energy neutrinos discovered by IceCube.

Neutrinos have very small masses and travel at speeds close to the speed of light, Kiryluk explained. Since they interact with matter weakly, they pass through most objects without any interactions. On rare occasions, however, these neutrinos collide with a neutron or a proton, causing a characteristic reaction that provides a clue about where they are, what energy they had when they collided, and, perhaps where they originated.

For her research, Kiryluk recently received the prestigious National Science Foundation Career Award, which provides almost $900,000 to support her work over the next five years. “It’s a great honor,” said Kiryluk. “The chances of success for such proposals are small and, in this sense, it was also a pleasant surprise.” Kiryluk said the funding will enable her to employ two graduate students per year. Part of the money will also be used for educational purposes and outreach. Kiryluk has reached out to high schools including Brentwood and Riverhead High School to involve students and teachers in research. Kiryluk is also a proponent of a Women in Science and Engineering program, or WISE, that encourages the “involvement of under-represented groups” in science, including women.

Kiryluk credits her Ph.D. advisor, Barbara Badelek, a professor at the University of Warsaw in the Department of Physics and a professor at Uppsala University, for believing in her and in her ability. She suggested that such support was critical to her success and her focus. Badelek met Kiryluk in 1994 and supervised her undergraduate and Ph.D. work. Kiryluk was “immediately recognized as a remarkably good student: hard working, trying to achieve a deep understanding of problems and very enthusiastic,” Badelek explained in an email. Badelek added that she is “very pleased to see her maturity and growing scientific prestige.”

In the IceCube project, Kiryluk is a part of an experiment that involves over 300 scientists from 48 institutions from around the world. IceCube, which took seven years to build, was manufactured as a discovery experiment to find high-energy neutrinos, which originate from astrophysical sources. People who have known Kiryluk for decades suggest that she has the right temperament for such an ambitious joint effort.

Kiryluk is “quiet and calm, but works hard and never leaves things because she finds some difficulties,” explained Ewa Rondio, the deputy director for scientific matters at the National Centre for Nuclear Research in Poland, who met Kiryluk when she was an undergraduate. Kiryluk’s goal is to measure the energy spectrum of these neutrinos. “We are interested in fluxes,” she said. These fluxes and energy spectra of high-energy neutrinos will provide insights in the sources and mechanisms of the most powerful accelerators in the universe.

A cubic kilometer of ice, IceCube, which has enough water to fill one million swimming pools, is large enough to capture more of these rare neutrino events. The key to unraveling what these signals indicate is to understand their energy and direction. The detectors don’t collect information from the neutrinos directly, but, rather from the interaction with particles in the ice. The neutrino interactions in ice produce a flash of light in the South Pole ice that the scientists measure with sensors. They study the pattern, the arrival times and the amplitude of this light at the sensors. This information can help determine the neutrino energy and direction.

Kiryluk is looking for high-energy events that are “most likely coming from outside of our galaxy,” she said. These particles are distributed all over the sky. While IceCube is capable of collecting data from the highest energy particles, it hasn’t yet gathered enough of these events to provide conclusive information at this range.

Kiryluk visited the South Pole for two weeks in 2009 before IceCube was finished. She was involved in the commissioning of the newly deployed detectors for the data acquisition system. The detectors are between 1,500 and 2,600 meters deep, which helps them “suppress any background events,” such as cosmic rays that are produced in the atmosphere. The facility is 3,000 meters high and has low humidity, which means it’s “easy to get dehydrated,” Kiryluk said. She described the working and living conditions at the South Pole as “modern.”

A native of eastern Poland, Kiryluk arrived on Long Island in 2001, when she worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory. She lives in Rocky Point. Kiryluk said the physics department is “growing.” Since her hire, nine assistant professors have joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University. As for her work, Kiryluk is inspired to understand how IceCube can be used as a “probe to study astronomy,” which enables her to be a part of the process of discovering “what is out there.”

The 2016 Stony Brook Film Festival will host the world premiere screening of ‘No Pay, Nudity’ on July 26. Photos from Staller Center

By Donna Newman

Just when summer becomes routine, the Stony Brook Film Festival appears like an oasis. Whether you’re a cinephile or just an entertainment seeker, beginning next Thursday — and running for 10 nights — you can escape the doldrums by entering a unique venue shared with a thousand friends you’ve yet to meet. For 21 years, the Stony Brook Film Festival has offered Long Islanders an alternative to the usual multiplex summer blockbusters.

Each year, festival director Alan Inkles assembles a diverse program of independent films. Different genres and cultures, subjects and languages are represented. Some films have casts with names we recognize. Others introduce talented unknowns. “This year’s films and shorts are absolutely the best out there,” said Inkles. “With a pass, folks can see all 34 — or they can pick and choose what appeals to them via the movie trailers on our website.”

Inkles is especially pleased with the selection this year. “I think this is the best festival ever!” Of course, he says this every year. But he truly believes it. And there are reasons for us to believe as well. For one, there were more entries to choose from than ever before. Inkles and his staff evaluated more than 3,000 films. The festival’s established acclaim in “Indie” circles has producers and filmmakers jockeying for a slot, and the relationships established over the past 20 years help Inkles obtain top quality movies.

Both the Opening and Closing Night films were on Inkles’ “must have” list, and he got both! “The Carer,” a joint venture of the UK and Hungary, stars Brian Cox (“Bourne Identity”) as a legendary Shakespearean actor, now old and ill. Costar Coco König, in the title role, makes her screen debut. Director János Edelényi will attend a Q-and-A about this English language picture.

Closing Night features a Swedish film: “A Man Called Ove,” based on Fredrik Backman’s New York Times bestseller of the same name. The author collaborated with Director Hannes Holm on the screenplay. This dramatic comedy is about love, family and (according to the festival brochure) the importance of the right tools. The director will be in attendance.

Veteran SBFF entrant John Putch returns bringing “The Father and the Bear” for its world premiere. This homage to his parents (actress Jean Stapleton and William Putch) was shot on location at the Totem Pole Playhouse in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania — a summer stock theater the elder Putch guided as artistic director for 30 years. Wil Love, an actor who performed there, plays the lead.

Dr. Delaney Ruston, who recently joined Stony Brook Medicine as an assistant professor and filmmaker in residence, has created award-winning documentaries about mental health issues. Her latest is “Screenagers,” an interesting probe into the excessive use of cell phones and screens. It explores the burning question: How much screen time is too much?

Another world premiere is “No Pay, Nudity.” “This hilarious comedy was a labor of love for Director Lee Wilkof and the entire cast,” said Inkles. “The audience is going to love it — and they’ll be the first to see it!” Wilkof said this about his tribute to “working actors”: “We live in a time where instant fame is often the measure of success and a body of work accounts for very little.” The film stars Gabriel Byrne, Nathan Lane — who was slated to attend at press time — Frances Conroy and Boyd Gaines as actors awaiting job offers in the lobby of Actor’s Equity.

This year the festival joined the online submission platform “We’re always looking for ways to make a great festival even better,” said Inkles, “and adding this resource has increased our options.” Contracts Administrator Kent Marks, doubling as festival associate director, did the lion’s share of early Freeway evaluations, freeing Inkles to pursue high-profile premieres.

“I’m grateful to Island Federal Credit Union and its president and CEO Bret Sears for his generosity,” noted Inkles. “To have a major sponsor that is so encouraging and supportive — it’s truly a dream relationship.” This is the second of a 10-year partnership between Island Federal and the university.

The SBFF runs 10 nights. Most night’s screenings begin at 7 p.m. Starting times for the second film varies. Check the schedule. (In some cases, Q-and-As may delay the start of the second feature.) The Opening and Closing Night films begin at 8 p.m. There are bonus features on Saturday and Sunday evenings, beginning at 5 and 6 p.m., respectively.

A Festival Pass to see all the films is $85 and offers perks including: a preferred seating line, seating guaranteed up to 15 minutes prior to start, and — new this year — a commemorative film pass and lanyard, exclusive access to party tickets, a SBFF insulated cooler, and pass holder discounts at local restaurants that run through Labor Day. A $225 Gold Pass includes seating in the section reserved for filmmakers and guests, as well as tickets to the Opening and Closing parties. Individual tickets ($12, $10 seniors, $5 students) will be sold subject to availability.

Find online access to the entire program, tickets and trailers at or call the Staller Center Box Office (631-632-ARTS) for information.

By William Grayson

The “Culper Spy Adventure,” a special presentation by TBR News Media, is an immersive digital attraction that will allow locals and tourists alike to be recruited into the ranks of General Washington’s secret Setauket spy ring. Accessed by scanning a special QR code on a panel of the Three Village map due out later this summer, you will begin an interactive 45-minute journey that puts you into the starring role of your very own secret spy adventure!

Become a time traveler as you arrive in the year 1780, crossing paths with legends and heroes: Abraham Woodhull, Anna Smith Strong, Caleb Brewster, George Washington himself! Enjoy interactive games between each episode that are filled to the brim with intrigue, action and fun! Created with the whole family in mind, the “Culper Spy Adventure” is great for all ages. We are also offering a special American Sign Language version as well as a handicap-accessible edition! Join the revolution later this summer!

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Karen Overin who plays Anna Smith Strong in this interactive journey.

Tell us about Anna Smith Strong.

Anna Smith Strong grew up in Setauket; she was a little bit older than most of the characters involved in the Culper Spy Ring. She was almost like a mentor in a lot of respects. She was very passionate about her home. Her residence was taken over by the British and she lived for a time in her servant’s quarters. AMC’s “TURN” portrays her as a barmaid when in reality she was much closer to an aristocrat. She was married to Selah Strong who had been imprisoned by the British for a time. She had grown children and did everything she could to make sure that they’d grow up in a free country.

Do you see similarities between you and Anna Smith Strong?

She wanted to protect her family at any costs, even if it meant betraying the crown. I’m also very passionate about my family and my children. She was a strong woman, and she knew what she wanted and would go after it no matter what. So yes, I do feel Anna and I have a bit in common.

What efforts did you take to make the film historically accurate?

We were striving for authenticity to the best of our ability. I’ve got a background in costuming since 1995. I like sewing, I like creating costumes, I like creating visuals. In a production like this you have to work so hard to achieve believability and accuracy. Nobody can be wearing a ring made after 1780, every hairstyle has to match something that would make sense for the time. We were blessed that we had a lot of men who weren’t folically challenged. We were able to have genuine pony tails and hairstyles that reflected life in 18th century America. We really made an effort to do it right.

Did you know anything about the Culper Spy Ring before filming?

When we were researching the characters and the history, we never realized just how much happened right here. I love that we’re able to bring the history to life and share it with the community. It’s amazing how history had forgotten this incredible chapter. It’s truly an honor bringing it back to life.

Above, from left, Leah Schmalz, Chris Cryder; Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Sue Orifici of the Port Jefferson Village Center and photographer Robert Lorenz enjoy the art reception last Thursday night. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Heidi Sutton

The Port Jefferson Village Center hosted an artist reception for its latest exhibit, The Natural Beauty of Plum Island, last Thursday evening. The show, which runs through Aug. 30, features photographs by Robert Lorenz and paintings by John H. Sargent, who were granted access to the island over the course of two years.

The paintings and photographs on the second floor of the center quickly draw you in with scenes of beautiful rocky beaches and flower meadows, sunsets with unobstructed views — visions of an island pristine and untouched. One quickly realizes that Plum Island is a local treasure. It is also in peril.

The island has been put up for auction to the highest bidder by the federal government. Operated by the Department of Homeland Security, it is the site of the former U.S. military installation Fort Terry (c. 1897) and the historic Plum Island Lighthouse (c. 1869), which went dark in 1978. It is most known, however, for housing the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1954. The center is relocating to Manhattan, Kansas, and the sale of the island (estimated at $60 million) will help defray the cost of the new facility.

Above, Chris Cryder gives a virtual tour of Plum Island. Photo by Heidi Sutton
Above, Chris Cryder gives a virtual tour of Plum Island. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Activists from all over the country have joined forces to try to protect the natural and cultural resources of Plum Island from development by coming up with conservation options and have been holding public forums to keep the community in the loop. So it was only natural to hold one of those forums Thursday, in conjunction with the art exhibit.

The evening started off with a visual presentation titled Preserving Plum Island for Future Generations by Save the Sound’s Special Projects Coordinator Chris Cryder. Save the Sound is a bi-state program with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and has been locked in a legal battle with the government to save the island since 2009. Cryder is also the outreach coordinator for the Preserve Plum Island Coalition.

Located off the tip of the North Fork of Long Island in the town boundaries of Southold, where the Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay meet, Plum Island is part of an archipelago of peninsulas and islands that includes Great Gull Island, Little Gull Island, Fisher’s Island and Rhode Island. The land was “formed 22,000 years ago when the last glacier was here … and deposited its boulders and glacier materials,” explained Cryder, noting that the area contains a very rich marine life.

The 843-acre coastal island, which is about three miles long, has not had much human disturbance since World War II, according to Cryder. “At one time, this island was completely denuded, but 80 percent of the island — over 600 acres — has been allowed to return to its natural state and … has become home to some of our most imperiled species,” he said. “It’s a really special place. You feel like you’re in a whole other world.”

According to Cryder, there are over 16 rare plants on the island, six of which are endangered, including Spring Ladies’ Tresses. The island, which features nine miles of beach, forests, marshes, dunes, flower meadows and over 100 acres of interior wetlands, is also home to over 220 bird species, including the endangered piping plover and the rare roseate tern. Large colonies of grey seals and harbor seals, the northern right whale and leatherback sea turtles congregate in the area. “We feel it is a one-of-a-kind island, probably the most important coastal habitat on the whole eastern seaboard right now,” added Cryder.

From left, Assemblyman Steve Englebright and naturalist John Turner discuss the fate of Plum Island with the audience. Photo by Heidi Sutton
From left, Assemblyman Steve Englebright and naturalist John Turner discuss the fate of Plum Island with the audience. Photo by Heidi Sutton

A panel discussion, which included naturalist John Turner, spokesperson for the Preserve Plum Island Coalition, and Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) followed the presentation. Moderated by Leah Schmalz, program manager for Save the Sound, both panelists spoke on the importance of saving this jewel from development and discussed the current status of legislation pending in Congress.

“I’ve been fascinated with Plum Island, mostly from a distance, for years,” said Englebright, who visited the island for the first time this spring, with Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and the Supervisor of Southhold. “I was very impressed; I felt like I was in a movie,” he said, describing seeing basking seals and the many bird species. “From my perspective, I would love to see Plum Island become a part of Orient State Park. It would be a spectacularly popular site for naturalists and families and groups of all kinds to visit.”

“We ultimately have no doubt that we will prevail in stopping the sale of Plum Island,” said Turner, “because the island sells itself … in terms of historical significance, the cultural significance, ecological and environmental significance. There are very few places like Plum Island anywhere and it’s in the public domain and it should stay in the public domain.”

“…most people go by on the [Cross Sound] Ferry and see the island and have no idea what’s happening and every time we talk to a group like this we find people saying ‘how is it that the federal government is really thinking about selling this?’” said Schmalz. “One of the ways to get involved is to sign a petition [by visiting]. It’s a very easy way to put your name on record saying you want this island to be preserved.”

From left, Andrew Gasparini, Frank Gilleece and Steven Uihlein in a scene from ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Andersen is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1837 and has been translated into over 100 languages. Through Aug. 11, Theatre Three in Port Jefferson presents an original musical retelling of the classic fairy tale that is both witty and funny and a perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.

The Grand Festival of the Autumn Moon is just around the corner and the Emperor would like a new suit to wear. Not happy with the court tailor’s latest creations, a call is sent out across the land and two con men posing as weavers, Joseph and Jeremiah, answer. They set about creating a new suit of clothes for the Emperor that is so exquisite and delicate that “it cannot be seen by fools.” In the meantime, they tell the emperor of the latest fashions in other kingdoms, which he simply must copy, setting off a series of hilarious costume changes.

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the eight adult actors never miss a beat in this fast-paced comedy. Frank Gilleece is ideally cast as the vain Emperor and Zoe Dunmire as the Empress and Melanie Acampora as the Princess complement him perfectly. Children’s theater veterans Andrew Gasparini (Jeremiah) and Steven Uihlein (Joseph) are very convincing as the two con men who try to pull off “the tailor scam.” As court tailor, Amanda Geraci effectively displays a variety of emotions from insulted to insecure to jealous as she is replaced by the new “weavers.”

Newcomer Emily Gates gives an outstanding performance in the toothy role of Court Dentist, examining everyone’s mouth and passing out sugar-free gum. Even the audience is under scrutiny. “A dentist’s work is never done!” she exclaims. Gates takes this flossy character and runs with it.

Aria Saltini plays Ann, the girl who befriends Jeremiah and Joseph and becomes an accomplice in their scam. Will she have a change of heart and expose them? Or will the emperor be exposed?

The original score, with choreography by Bobby Montaniz, is the heart of the show with great duets like “Song of Agreement” with Acampora and Saltini and “I Can Work with You” with Geraci and Gates as well as “It’s Time” sung by the whole company. Teresa Matteson’s elaborate costumes, especially the many outfits for the Emperor, are wonderfully on point and live musical accompaniment by Tim Peierls on piano, David B. Goldberg on electric bass and Tessa Peierls on flute and piccolo is a nice touch.

There are always lessons to be learned at Theatre Three’s children’s shows and “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is no exception. Here the morals of the story are that it’s not what’s on the outside but the inside that truly matters, to always tell the truth and to floss after every meal! Young children will love this story along with the singing and dancing, and adults will have a terrific time as well, seeing a fresh take on a story they know from their own childhoods.

Up next is the premiere of “The Misadventures of Robin Hood” from Aug. 5 to 13, “Pumpkin Patch Magic!” from Oct. 1 to 29 and a holiday favorite, “Barnaby Saves Christmas” from Nov. 25 to Dec. 30. Tickets are $10 each. To order, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit

Setauket artist Jim Molloy paints the Gamecock Cottage plein air at a previous Wet Paint Festival Photo by Jeff Foster

By Melissa Arnold

For many, spending time outdoors is a great way to de-stress and recharge. And for the artistically inclined, it’s easy to feel inspired when you’re face-to-face with a profoundly beautiful scene.

These ideas are at the heart of the annual Gallery North/Joe Reboli Wet Paint Festival, which kicks off its 12th year this weekend in Stony Brook. The festival, hosted by Gallery North in Setauket, was launched to honor the memory of beloved Long Island painter Joseph Reboli. Since then, artists from across the island have gathered to paint outdoors in a variety of Three Village locations.

Stony Brook artist Barbara Siegel has painted at the festival for almost a decade now, and she said there’s nothing quite like “plein air,” or outdoor, painting. “Plein air painting gives you a beautiful opportunity to truly capture a moment — you see with your own eyes the lighting, shadows and detail of a place, in real time — you just don’t get that being inside,” she explained.

This year, the artists are headed to the historic Gamecock Cottage on West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook. According to Brookhaven town historian Barbara Russell, the cottage was purchased in 1876 by William Shipman for hunting and fishing. It earned the name Gamecock from either its bird-shaped weather vane or Shipman’s love of raising wild birds. “It’s really an interesting place,” Russell said. “And it defies understanding how it still exists, considering it’s been hit by every major storm and hurricane in our area since (the 1800s).”

Participating artists:

Rose Barry

Renee Blank

Sheila Breck

Yow-Ning Chang

Robin Clonts

Anthony Davis

Denise Douglas-Faraci

Greg Furjanic

Jim Kelson

Kathee Shaff Kelson Junee Kim

Elizabeth Kolligs

Arntian Kotsa

Lee Ann Lindgren

Esther Marie

Linda Davison Mathues

Eileen A. McGann

Muriel Musarra

Paula Pelletier

Linda Prentiss

Joan Rockwell

Stephen Rosa

Joseph Rotella

Oscar Santiago

Barbara Jeanne Siegel

Angela Stratton

Rita Swanteson

Natsuko Takami

Susan Trawick

Rae Zysman

Artist Muriel Musarra of Stony Brook has been a part of the festival from the beginning, and the Gamecock Cottage is a familiar subject for her artwork. “I’ve painted the Gamecock Cottage several times before from different angles — everyone loves it,” she said. “I’m looking forward to painting it again because something about the scene is always different. You never see the same thing twice.” The cottage was built out of solid wood in a Carpenter Gothic style and includes ample ornate trim, Russell said. Restoration has been underway for some time now, and historians at the festival will give visitors a rare look at the interior.

Gallery North Director Judith Levy said the festival will feature nearly 30 artists painting throughout the weekend, beginning Friday morning, July 15. On Saturday at 10:30 a.m., Russell and Bev Tyler of the Three Village Historical Society will lead a historical walking tour beginning at the West Meadow Beach Pavilion. The tour will move down Trustees Road and end at the cottage. Along the way, the group will learn how the beach and surrounding area was used by a variety of civilizations, from the Native Americans to the Colonials and beyond. A selection of artifacts from various time periods will be on display inside the cottage.

Following a weekend of painting, the finished artwork will be available to view and purchase at Gallery North from July 19 through July 24. An exhibition reception will be held on Thursday, July 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. “It’s a lot of fun,” Levy said of the festival. “There’s a lot of camaraderie among the artists and they all enjoy getting together to paint.”

The 12th annual Gallery North/Joseph Reboli Wet Paint Festival will be held at the Gamecock Cottage, Trustees Road and West Meadow Beach, Stony Brook. Painters will be on-site from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 17. Gallery North is located at 90 North Country Rd., Setauket. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-751-2676.

From left, Todd Evans, Terri Hall, Gary Settoducatto, Christine Kellar and Henry Diaz in concert at the Harborfront Park in Port Jefferson Photo by Heidi Sutton

Sunset Concert

Sunset concert

He-Bird, She-Bird (acoustic roots Americana) kicked off the Port Jefferson–Northern Brookhaven Arts Council’s 2016 Sunset Concert series (formerly the Picnic Supper Concert series) on July 6. The event, which took place at the Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park, drew a large, enthusiastic crowd.

The group, featuring Todd Evans, Terri Hall, Christine Kellar and “sidebirds” Gary Settoducatto on drums and bassist Henry Diaz (special guests for the evening), sang tunes from Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, Buddy Miller, Adele and Hazel Dickens as well as original songs by Kellar including “Once I Called You Mine.”

Up next for the trio is an appearance at IRIE Therapeutic Riding Program annual fundraiser at Giorgio’s in Baiting Hollow on July 21, Garden of Eve’s Tomato Festival (August) and Garlic Festival (September) in Riverhead. Their debut CD will be released at the end of the summer. For more information, visit

Director Robert Ozman leads members of the Harbormen Chorus during a concert at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook in E. Setauket on June 27. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Rita J. Egan

Current and former members of the Harbormen Chorus are warming up for a special luncheon scheduled on Aug. 13 at Lombardi’s on the Sound in Port Jefferson. The North Brookhaven chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society, well known in the area for its four-part harmony chorus and quartet performances, is celebrating its 50th anniversary and decades of musical memories.

Chapter president Fred Conway is looking forward to the celebration commemorating decades of business in the community. “I don’t think there are a lot of organizations in Brookhaven, especially in North Brookhaven, that have achieved that,” he said.

Conway said on hand for the anniversary luncheon will be Chris Moritz and Ray Gape, the chapter’s first musical director and president, respectively, who in 1965 took out an ad looking for men who were interesting in singing. Also, on hand will be Don Van der Kolk who was a member of the Three Village Four Quartet along with Moritz, Gape and the late Bill MacDevitt.

The organization, which officially became a chapter in 1966 of what was then known as the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America Inc., held its first meeting in 1965. That meeting drew a handful of potential members, and by their first performance in the fall of 1966, there were approximately two dozen men performing. In early 1967, the group had its first annual show.

Since then the Harbormen’s barbershop quartets have performed at the Good Shepherd Hospice Memorial Service, the Port Jefferson Village Dickens Festival, the annual Brookhaven Town Fair, New York Mets and Long Island Ducks baseball games, as well as offered Singing Valentine quartets to serenade local sweethearts.

The chorus, which meets every Monday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Stony Brook, is open to men of all ages, who are interested in singing a cappella versions of Doo Wop, show tunes, love songs and other old favorites, even if they can’t read music. Conway, who has been a member for 47 years, said his experience with the group is a perfect example of how one doesn’t need to read music.

He was sitting on a crate in his new first house in Rocky Point while watching Super Bowl III when his neighbor knocked on his door and asked if he had seen the announcement in a newspaper. Conway said the ad asked: “Do you like to sing in the shower or in a bar?” “So the two of us went to the chapter meeting, and I stayed there ever since,” Conway said.

He said it took him three years before he could sing in a quartet due to not being a music reader. Since then he has been in nine registered quartets, including his current group Antiquity. Conway, who sings lead, uses a tape recorder to learn. “I form the quartet around myself being a weak link. Those other three guys they all play piano and organ and guitar and they read music, understand music,” he said.

On June 27 the chorus celebrated its first graduating class of “Ready, Set, Sing,” which included 14 men from college to retirement age interested in singing. Conway said the program is a “teaching mechanism.”

“The stipulation was that you have a love of music. You didn’t have to read music or really understand the science involved in it,” Conway said.

Chorus Director Rob Ozman said they don’t turn interested singers away as long as they can carry a tune and like to sing. “It’s nice if someone has a little bit of basic ability, and you just teach them everything they need to know to be able to sing, to work in the chorus,” he said.

The chapter’s director, a music teacher at Mattituck-Cutchogue school district, Ozman started in the chorus in 1980 and in 1981 became music director. He stepped down as director in 1995 to raise his family and was replaced by Antiquity member Gary Wilson as director. He returned a year and a half ago to direct the singers once again.

With over 30 current members as well as former members on hand for the luncheon on Aug. 13, there will be plenty of stories to share. Among Ozman’s favorite memories with the Harbormen is a visit to a local hospital to sing to patients during Christmastime. “There was a young woman who was in a coma and we went into the room, and we were singing for her and she woke up in the middle of the singing. She had been out for quite a while, a number of weeks. And, I’m not saying that we brought her out of it either, we may have just happened to be there at the time, but it’s sure was kind of neat to think well maybe there was just something about it that registered in her brain and woke her up,” Ozman said.

Like Ozman, chapter secretary David Lance, a member for 10 years, has many favorite memories from his years with the chorus. One is a show the group performed in 2012, “Return of the Pirate Chorus.” The chapter secretary said the singers donned pirate costumes while singing parodies such as “Don’t Walk the Gang Plank” to the tune of “Under the Boardwalk.”

He said the Good Shepherd Hospice Memorial Services, where they perform “Irish Blessing” and “I Believe” twice a year, are also special to him. Over the last few years, the Harbormen Chorus has donated part of the proceeds, totaling over $16,000, from their annual show to the health care organization.

“The Good Shepherd Hospice Memorial is the most moving of all because when we sing for them it gives them such encouragement and comfort,” Lance said.

The singer added that anytime the audience responses to the music that “appeals to an older crowd but is not only for them” is a good memory for him. He said they have had many great responses with people singing along, especially at nursing homes. He has witnessed a patient in a wheelchair standing up to direct the chorus and one patient that was practically catatonic perking up upon hearing a song.

Ozman said one of the interesting things about singing in a barbershop quartet for him has been meeting people from all different backgrounds. He said sharing an interest in the four-part harmony genre has brought so many people together.

“You can meet up with people you don’t know, you never sang with them before, but you can sing a song together,” Ozman said.

Among its milestone anniversary activities this year, the chorus will also hold its 50th anniversary annual show at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook in Setauket on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For more information about the Harbormen Chorus and its 50th anniversary party at Lombardi’s on the Sound, call 631-476-6558 or visit

A typical teenage girl’s bedroom from the late 1960s. Photo from LIM

Above, a typical teenage girl’s bedroom of the late 1960s. Photo courtesy of the Long Island Museum

By Ellen Barcel

Back in 1964-1965 some very excited New Yorkers (as well as visitors from all over the world) attended the World’s Fair held in Queens. The last time a world’s fair was held in New York was 1939!

The 1960s was a time of the Beatles. It was the time of John Denver and other folk musicians. It was a time when the Vietnam War was escalating, a time of protest and peace marches. “Make Love Not War” and “Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way” were just some of the slogans commonly heard. It was a time of the early growth of Stony Brook University, founded in 1957 in Oyster Bay and moved to the Stony Brook campus in 1962 on land donated by local philanthropist Ward Melville.

It was also a time when Long Island was growing by leaps and bounds. Housing developments were springing up everywhere, taking over former farmland. While the housing boom of the 1950s was felt in Nassau County, Suffolk’s boom took place in the 1960s.

The Long Island Museum’s new exhibit, Long Island in the Sixties, explores this decade of growth through clothing, photographs and other items of popular culture. A large time line goes throughout the exhibit noting the events of the decade.

Exhibit curator and Director of Collections and Interpretation Joshua Ruff said, “There are five video installations, several of which play music, most notably a film of the famous Beatles concert…”

Said Julie Diamond, museum director of communications, “One thing that struck me [in the exhibit] was a video of the Beatles playing at Shea Stadium. I was imagining myself being there, with all those girls screaming.” One section of the exhibit focuses on clothing: the mod style of the ‘60s “and another more elegant, dressy section. All of the clothing is from our collection,” Diamond said. Pieces were donated to the museum over the years. “It gives us a chance to bring out clothing which we don’t often see.”

Ruff added that there are several vignettes, including “a stylish modernist Hamptons living room, filled with great contemporary furnishings and art … and a middle-class suburban living room with a wildly patterned couch [and] a 1965 Zenith color television set (the dawn of color TV).” The teenage girl’s bedroom, “includes a lot of pop culture artifacts (the Monkees, Beatles, a big record album collection, and all the types of objects you’d see in such a room in the late ‘60s).” There’s a section on that World’s Fair, President John F. Kennedy’s campaign on the Island and information on Grumman’s role in the 1960s.

Ruff noted, “We decided to do the ‘60s exhibition as an outgrowth of the success of a very popular Long Island in the 1950s exhibition that we did in 2012. In the last few years, we have also had a good number of significant donations of 1960s era art and artifacts which we wanted to find a way of showcasing.”

Ruff added that the exhibit includes some really notable artifacts, “the phone that John F. Kennedy used to call Robert Moses to get him to begin building the New York World’s Fair; parts from a lunar modular (antenna mount, strut, micro-shield, copper cables); and terrific dresses from famous designers including Emilio Pucci, Rudy Gernreich and Gino Charles.”

Also at the museum is a second exhibit, Common Ground: The Music Festival Experience curated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The two exhibits relate, “I think beautifully! There is a lot of content (Woodstock, Altamont, Newport Jazz Festival) in Common Ground that is based in the 1960s … It was important for us to think of these two exhibitions as tied from the very beginning, and we chose to schedule them in this way intentionally,” said Ruff. Common Ground runs through Sept. 5.

This wonderful trip down memory lane will be at the Long Island Museum through Dec. 31. The museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, is located at 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook. Call 631-751-0066 or go to for further information. The museum is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

Park Ranger Molly Hastings with the new Little Free Library under the pavilion. Photo from Emma Clark Library

When you visit West Meadow Beach in Setauket this summer, be sure to “check out” a book from the Little Free Library, built by Emma Clark Library in partnership with the Town of Brookhaven and Park Ranger Molly Hastings. There’s no need for a library card or to return a book — this is a “take a book, leave a book” concept hosted by Emma Clark as part of an outreach service to the community.

Library staff and the public will be contributing books for the sole purpose of the Little Free Library (books are not owned by Emma Clark — please don’t return your library books here!). The Little Free Library will be maintained by teen volunteers for the months of July and August and will be located under the pavilion at the beach. There is no need to live in Three Village to share in this give and take project, as long as you are a visitor at West Meadow Beach. The Little Free Library will simply enhance the friendly and hospitable feel that already exists in Three Village.

The Little Free Library at West Meadow Beach is registered on and can be found on the site’s official map of all Little Free Libraries across the United States and 70 countries worldwide. For more information, call 631-941-4080.