Friday, August 31, 2012

Washington College Women’s Soccer Team Safely Back on Campus After Bus Fire Cancels Opener

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Washington College women’s soccer team was back on campus safe and sound after a bus fire en route to their first game of the season. The team was barely out of Kent County, not yet to Church Hill on Maryland Route 213, when the bus taking them to their afternoon game at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., caught fire.

Team members seated at the back of the bus first noticed smoke coming in from a vent near the bathroom. They alerted the team coaches and the driver, who pulled over to the side of the highway.  Players say there was one panicky moment when the hydraulic system that opened the coach’s doors failed, but the driver was able to open the door manually. The team waited a safe distance from the bus and watched as smoke turned to flame.

Local volunteer firefighters arrived to put out the fire, and College vans transported the players back to campus. There they met with a team of administrators and counselors that included Athletic Director Bryan Matthews, two health center crisis counselors and Director of Student Development Beth Anne Langrell. Although most of the passengers were able to get their personal items off the bus, a handful of the players did lose valuables that included electronics.

The bus was operated by Gene’s Limousine Service, based in Federalsburg, Md.  The College is awaiting the results of the investigation into the fire being conducted by the State Fire Marshal and the Maryland State Police.

Athletic Director Matthews stressed that the first priority was the safety and wellbeing of the students. He praised the quick and responsible actions of the players and coaches in evacuating the bus safely and thanked the emergency first responders who came to the scene. “It’s not the way we wanted to open the women’s soccer season,” he said, “but we are certainly thankful that no one was injured.”

The game against Randolph-Macon has been postponed without a make-up date. On Sunday, September 2, the Shorewomen travel to Allentown, Pa., to play Cedar Crest College. That game begins at 2 p.m.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Honored Violinist Joins Pianist Kim for First Free “12@Hotchkiss” Concert of Season

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Violinist Nabeel Abboud Ashkar will be the special guest Friday, September 7 as the Washington College Music Department kicks off the second season of its popular “12@Hotchkiss” lunchtime concert series on campus.  The free public performances, which are hosted at noon in Hotchkiss Recital Hall on the first Friday of each month during the academic year, feature acclaimed musicians from the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area.

Pianist Grace Kim directs the
12@Hotchkiss concert series.

In the opening concert, Ashkar will collaborate with pianist and faculty member Grace Eun Hae Kim in a program that includes Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano E minor, K. 304 and Beethoven’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 5 in F major, “Spring.”  

Ashkar, a Palestinian native of Nazareth, has earned international praise for bringing young Arabs and Jews together through music. He founded the Polyphony Conservatory in Nazareth in 2006 with support from the Barenboim-Said Foundation. In 2011, he helped found the Polyphony Foundation and launch the Polyphony Youth Orchestra. He will receive an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Washington College during Fall Convocation on Thursday, September 6. 

Hotchkiss Recital Hall is located in the Gibson Center for the Arts building at Washington College, 300 Washington Avenue. For more information on the 12@Hotchkiss series, please visit the Music Department website at, or contact series director Grace Eun Hae Kim at
A day after receiving an honorary degree from the College, violinist Nabeel
Ashkar will perform with Kim Friday, September,  in the first concert of the
 free lunchtime series on campus. The community is welcome.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

61st Washington College Community Concert Series Promises Strings, Brass, Piano, Percussion

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The 61st Season of the Washington College Community Concert Series will bring international artists to the Gibson Center for the Arts to perform a range of classical and modern music. The Series begins October 6 with The Russian Trio, followed by Ethos Percussion Group in early November. The new year will bring the Axiom Brass Quintet in late January and the Calidore String Quartet in March. Pianist Inna Faliks will close the Series in April.
            Tickets to individual concerts ($15, or $5 for youth ages 18 and under) and season tickets ($50 for all five concerts) can be purchased at the door or in advance. Patron levels, which include season tickets, begin at $75 per person. Washington College students are admitted free with a valid ID. There are no reserved seats. To purchase tickets or become a patron, please call 410-778-7839 or e-mail concert series director Kate Bennett at
            Following is a summary of the season. Please check the Washington College Web site ( closer to each date to confirm details and get more information. Both Decker Theatre and the Hotchkiss Recital Hall are located in the Gibson Center for the Arts on the Washington College campus, 30 Washington Avenue, Chestertown.

The Russian Trio, Saturday, October 6, at 7:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre.
            The young musicians of the Russian Trio began making their individual marks in their native country as child prodigies, winning prestigious competitions and performing throughout Europe and the Americas. After coming to Baltimore for graduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, the three—a pianist, a violinist and a cellist—formed the Trio in September of 2011 and quickly began making their collective mark, as well.  This past March the Russian Trio won both the Silver Medal and the Audience Choice Award at the 2012 Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition in Easton.
            Pianist Katherine Harris Rick made her debut at age 9 in her hometown of Yakutsk, Siberia, winning the Republic of Yakutia Competition for Young Pianists, and never looked back. She earned honors and awards from the World Piano Competition, the Rachmaninoff Competition for Young Pianists, and the International Russian Music Piano Competition. Her musical education continued with a full scholarship to Azusa Pacific University at age 15 and a full graduate assistantship in accompanying at the Peabody Conservatory.
            Violinist Nikita Borisevich began studying the violin at age 5, first played with the Perm Opera Symphony Orchestra at 12, and won Russia’s  “Magical Bow” national competition for violinists and cellists at 15. He was admitted on a full scholarship to the Moscow Conservatory.  An avid chamber musician as well as soloist, Nikita won a Grand Prix in the 2011 International Chamber Music Competition in St. Petersburg, Russia. This year, he made his debut at the Moscow Philharmonic Society. Borisevich is pursuing graduate studies at both the Peabody Conservatory and the Moscow Conservatory.  
            Cellist Dmitry Volkov has performed as a soloist with the National Symphony of Mexico, the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, the Samara Symphony Orchestra, the Togliatti Symphony, and the Naberezhyne Chelny Symphony.  He has won numerous scholarships and awards, including the Stephen Kates Memorial Scholarship in Cello and the First Act Heifetz Institute Scholarship. He is pursuing an Artist Diploma at the Peabody Conservatory.  

Ethos Percussion Group, Sunday, November 4, at 4 p.m., in Decker Theatre.
            The energetic Ethos Percussion Group combines global influences with contemporary classical repertoire to perform with what The New York Times has described as “expert togetherness, sensitivity, and zest.” The Group, founded in 1989, currently includes accomplished percussionists Trey Files, Michael Lipsey, Eric Phinney and Yousif Sheronick. 
            In their 20-plus years of performance, Ethos has played in major concert venues throughout the United States and United Kingdom, including Carnegie Hall, the Bermuda Festival, and London’s Wigmore Hall. The Group has commissioned more than 25 works for percussion quartet from composers in the musical traditions of Argentina, China, Ghana, Indonesia, Palestine, and more. It has released six albums since 1996, including a collaboration with the Philadelphia Virtuosi String Orchestra.

Axiom Brass Quintet, Friday, January 25, at 7:30 p.m. in Hotchkiss Recital Hall.
            The award-winning Axiom Brass Quintet features a repertoire ranging from jazz and Latin music to string quartet transcriptions, as well as original compositions for brass quintet. The talented five-man group is the only brass quintet to win the prestigious Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition (2012), and it has also earned top honors at brass competitions that include the 2008 International Chamber Brass Competition and the Jeju City International Brass Quintet Competition in South Korea. Axiom has entertained all over the globe, and its educational concerts for young audiences earned a 2011 Fischoff Educator Award.
            The Quintet has partnered with the New York Philharmonic Brass Quintet, the Chicago Symphony Brass Quintet, the Chicago Chamber Musicians and the Fischoff Chamber Music Society. The Quintet is also an Ensemble-in-Residence at the Music Institute of Chicago and at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. This season, Axiom will release the next album of its “New Standards” series and a third album, Sacred Brass.

Calidore String Quartet, Wednesday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. in  Hotchkiss Recital Hall
            The up-and-coming Calidore Quartet features violinists Jeffrey Myers and Ryan Meehan, violist Jeremy Berry, and cellist Estelle Choi. The last two years have seen the group’s popularity surge, from its debut in October 2010 in front of a sold-out audience at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, Cal., to its grand prize wins at the 2012 Coleman Chamber Ensemble Competition and the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition. Calidore has toured across the United States and collaborated with major music names that include Joshua Bell and the Calder Quartet.
            Individually, the members of the quartet have worked with a number of notable ensembles and artists, among them the Tokyo, St. Lawrence, and Cavani string quartets, and musicians Paul Coletti, Joseph Silverstein, and John Perry.

Inna Faliks, piano, Saturday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre.
            Ukrainian-born pianist Inna Faliks has garnered a reputation as an adventurous and passionate performer since beginning her career with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra five years after moving to the United States at age 15. Faliks has played in prestigious venues worldwide, including Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paris’ Salle Cortot, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall, with acclaimed conductors Leonard Slatkin, Keith Lockhart, and Edward Polochick, to name a few. Her 2009 CD, “Sound of Verse,” garnered rave reviews from Gramophone, American Record Guide, and other music publications.
            An innovative artist, Faliks plays new and rarely heard music; her work with the unknown piano pieces of Russian writer Boris Pasternak led to a recording and a lecture recital series at the University of Chicago. The unique stamp she puts on her work has helped her win numerous competitions and awards, including the coveted International Pro Musicis Award in 2005 and first prize in the Yale Gordon Competition at the Peabody Conservatory. Committed to audience communication and education, Faliks is the founder and curator of the interdisciplinary Music/Words series, which features live poetry and classical music performances in New York City.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

College Event to Honor Baltimore's Top Librarian Hayden and Palestinian Musician Ashkar

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Fall Convocation at Washington College will honor the head of one of the oldest public library systems in the nation, a Palestinian musician using his art to unite Arabs and Jews, and two young graduates who have distinguished themselves in their careers—one in theater, the other in international space exploration. The September 6 event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 3:30 p.m. in Decker Theatre in the Gibson Center for the Arts on campus.

            Dr. Carla Hayden, chief executive officer of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library and a past president of the American Library Association (ALA), is the perfect honoree to help the campus celebrate the renovation of its own Miller Library, a major construction project nearing completion. Hayden is credited with revitalizing the historic Pratt system, bolstering its financial health and expanding its outreach to the city’s neighborhoods.
            The Library Journal named Hayden the 1995 Librarian of the Year, and Ms. magazine named her one its 2003 Women of the Year. The Ms. honor recognized Dr. Hayden’s leadership of the ALA, especially praising her stand against the provision of the USA Patriot Act that allowed the FBI to delve into the borrowing records of library users. “Hayden’s stance against the Patriot Act is part and parcel of her vision of the library as an integral element of democracy,” the magazine summed up.
            Hayden grew up in Chicago, where she earned her undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University and her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Prior to taking the top spot in Baltimore in 1993, she was chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library. A former member of the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors (2001-2004) she now serves on the National Museum and Library Services Board. Washington College will confer on Hayden an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.
            Also receiving an honorary degree will be Dr. Nabeel Abboud Ashkar, an Israeli Arab violinist who has earned international praise for bringing young Jews and Arabs together through music. At age 34, he has already created a conservatory and an orchestra and been recognized with a Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award.  Washington College will award him an honorary Doctor of Arts degree.
            A native of Nazareth and a graduate of Tel Aviv University, Ashkar earned a master’s degree in music in Germany before returning to his hometown determined to open musical doors for Arab youth there. Six years ago, with support from the Barenboim-Said Foundation, he opened what is now the Polyphony Conservatory in Nazareth and hired some of the best young Jewish musicians from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to teach his students.
            Three years later, in 2011, he helped found the Polyphony Foundation and launch the Polyphony Youth Orchestra. “By introducing classical music to our young students, we open their minds, we open their hearts,” he has said of Polyphony’s mission. “They  become creative and constructive members of their community and Israeli society, and very quickly they become part of the international community.”
            Two members of the Washington College Class of 1998—Karen DiLossi and Tim Tawney—will receive Alumni Horizon Ribbons, which recognize graduates from the past 15 years who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, service or scholarship in their lives.
             Karen DiLossi, co-artistic director of Madhouse Theater Company in Philadelphia, earned her undergraduate degree in drama and history at Washington College, then completed a master’s in theater at Villanova University. She has worked as stage manager, director, and producer for many respected theater companies. During her eight-year tenure as Director of Programs and Services for the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, DiLossi produced and directed the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre.                
            DiLossi is the first national director of Arts in Sacred Places, part of the Partners for Sacred Places program, which advocates for sound stewardship and active community use of America’s older religious properties. Her pioneering “Making Homes for the Arts in Sacred Places” program is established in Philadelphia and Chicago and is expanding nationwide.
         Timothy R. Tawney will be honored for his contributions to the nation’s space-exploration program, including last month’s flawless landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. A 12-year veteran of NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) who first joined the agency as a Presidential Management Fellow, he currently serves as a Senior International Programs Specialist and Space Science Team Lead in the Office of International and Interagency Relations. In that role, he creates and oversees NASA’s collaborative agreements with scientists and engineers around the world on projects that range from the study of the Sun, to the exploration of the outer planets of our Solar System and the farthest reaches of the Universe.
            Tawney graduated from Washington College magna cum laude with honors in International Studies and Economics and a minor in German. As an undergraduate, he rowed for the Men’s Crew team, joined the Kappa Alpha fraternity, and participated in the Cater Society of Junior Fellows. He also studied abroad—in London, England as part of the Hansard Scholars Program; in Berlin, Germany; and in Manila, the Philippines, where he interned for the U.S. State Department. He went on to earn a master’s degree in German and European Studies from Georgetown University.
           The Convocation ceremony also will recognize high-achieving students for their academic performance the previous year. Afterward, guests can congratulate all the honorees at a light reception in the Underwood Lobby and visit the adjacent Kohl Gallery to see the exhibition “What Comes Later,” which features multimedia works by studio-art faculty Heather Harvey and Benjamin Bellas.

Monday, August 13, 2012

College Ready to Welcome Internationally Diverse Class, Orientation Begins Thursday, August 23

CHESTERTOWN, MD—Washington College is making final preparations to welcome the 405 members of the Class of 2016 to campus, readying dorm rooms and planning a packed schedule of orientation sessions and social events to help the new students feel at home fast.

The new class is one of the most international in recent years, hailing from 23 U.S. states and 16 other nations: China, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain and Sweden. 

Among the Americans, about 40 percent are Marylanders, and 45 of that group come from communities on the Eastern Shore. Females make up just over half the class (57 percent), more than a third (35 percent) were members of the National Honor Society in their high schools, and some 27 percent were recruited for sports. The new students will benefit from some $7.5 million in scholarships and financial aid. One more statistic of note: about 8 percent of the Class are Washington College legacies, meaning at least one family member is an alumnus.  

Although some athletes and international students will arrive a few days earlier, the majority of the freshmen will move into their campus residence halls on Thursday morning, August 23. That afternoon, while the students will meet with their Peer Mentors (members of the sophomore, junior and senior classes whose primary role is to help the first-years adjust to college life), their parents will hear advice from Provost Emily Chamlee-Wright and Dean of Students Mela Dutka about how to let go and cheer their student on from a healthy distance. Everyone reconvenes for a welcome program and reception with Washington College’s first couple, President Mitchell B. Reiss and his wife, Elisabeth, then the parents drive away and freshman year begins in earnest.

Over the following few days, the first-years will take part in numerous programs and meetings aimed at easing the transition from high school to college. Among other planned activities, they will learn about and sign the all-important Honor Code, take a walking tour of Chestertown, finalize their class schedules, party to the music of the band Hot Tub Limo, discuss the first-year read (Nathaniel Fick’s memoir One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer), and be amazed and entertained by the psychic feats of Banachek the Mentalist.. 

Click here for more details on the orientation schedule. 

Upperclassmen are scheduled to return by Sunday, August 26, and will join the new students that evening, along with faculty and staff families, for the traditional “All-Campus Picnic.”  Classes begin Monday morning.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Kohl Gallery Exhibit Features Multi-Media Work by New Studio-Art Faculty at the College

A still from a Benjamin Bellas landscape video. 

Heather Harvey's "Stretched Membrane," 2012, in plaster, fiberglass,  and acrylic.
CHESTERTOWN, MD—The Kohl Gallery at Washington College showcases the work of two new studio-art professors in an exhibition opening Friday, August 24.  “What Comes Later,” featuring multimedia works by Heather Harvey and Benjamin Bellas, will run through September 16. A reception with the artists, both members of the Art and Art History Department, will be held Friday, August 31, from 5 to 7 p.m. Both the exhibition and the reception are free and open to the public.
            Bellas works in photography, video, sculpture and performance and has exhibited his work around the globe, from Istanbul and Hong Kong to Los Angeles and Chicago. He earned a degree in studio arts from the University of Pittsburgh and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he has also taught as a member of the faculty in the Contemporary Practices Department.
            Bellas, who begins teaching this fall, says he is “honored and excited” to be joining the faculty at Washington College.  “The exhibition will be, first and foremost, an opportunity for the community to familiarize themselves with the work of Professor Harvey and myself,” he adds. “My hope is that it may also facilitate a dialogue within the community regarding the state of the visual arts at Washington College and beyond, past, present, and future.”
            Harvey, who finished her first year of teaching at the College with the Spring 2012 semester, says she was drawn to the opportunity of being in a small art department where she could have a big impact. She adds that she is energized by the atmosphere on a liberal arts campus.  
            “Artists work with science, philosophy, poetry, music, psychology, politics, and the natural world,” she explains.  “So, an interdisciplinary approach is the natural state for most artists, and certainly for me.  Interactions with colleagues, students, and visiting scholars are one of the primary pleasures of being part of an academic community.”
            Harvey, who received her MFA in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007, began her career with paintings, drawings, and some digital work and has since moved towards a hybrid form of two-dimensional art and sculpture. This past January, Harvey's work was included in the group show “Re-Generation” at The Painting Center in New York.
             “We are very pleased to feature our two new studio-art faculty in the exhibit,” says Patrice DiQuinzio, associate provost and director of the Kohl Gallery.  “Their work is very thought provoking, and I’m sure the community will really enjoy it.”
         The Kohl Gallery is open Wednesday through Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m. and closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, visit

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Forbes Ranks Washington College Among America's Top Colleges for Quality and Value

CHESTERTOWN, MD—The annual Forbes list of America’s Top Colleges ranks Washington College in the top 25 percent nationally for student satisfaction and post-graduation outcomes, and puts the Chestertown campus near the very top among Maryland schools.

Nationally, Washington College was listed 146 out of the 650 colleges and universities evaluated. Among Maryland schools, WC ranked fourth, behind the U.S. Naval Academy (ranked at 43 nationally), Johns Hopkins University (67), and St. John’s College (143).

The list, produced by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington, D.C., is based on five categories: post-graduate success, which considers the prominence and pay of alumni and accounts for 32.5 percent of a school’s score; student satisfaction with professors and the overall campus experience (27.5 percent); the amount of debt students carry after graduation (17.5 percent); the four-year graduation rate (11.5 percent); and the number of prestigious scholarships, fellowships and Ph.Ds the students eventually earn (11.25).

Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation.  For more information: