LBK Education Center offers stargazing to mastering your iPad

Thursday night live New Orleans Jazz Nights with Henry Blackburn.

Patty Johnson in Carlo DiNapoli’s watercolor class.

Art critic, historian and lecturer Kevin Costello leads an art tour.

Mary Masi teaches a Zentangle Workshop.

Students Tony and Marilyn Rangel attend a Zentangle Workshop.

Contributing Columnist



The Longboat Key Education Center, a not-for-profit continuing education center in the Centre Shops of Longboat Key, is busy preparing for a stellar season chock full of adult enrichment to keep the mind active and the spirit young.

Do you love to look at the stars and wish you knew more about the constellations? Join Jeff Rodgers, director of education at the South Florida Museum and director of the Bishop Planetarium, and let him teach you about stargazing, the nature of the universe and the fate of the cosmos.

Did you read “The Bhagavad Gita” in college and are now ready to truly benefit from the wisdom that this 2,000-year-old text imparts? It was Ghandi’s favorite book and he always carried a copy with him. “The Bhagavad Gita” has regained worldwide popularity since the release of the best-selling book (and film) “Eat, Pray, Love” by Liz Gilbert. The course will be taught by Bob Waxman, author, educator and featured speaker on a wide array of topics in comparative religion.

Are you a baseball fan who would enjoy hearing about how this national pastime has helped shaped the history of America? Join instructor Donald Goldsmith who will cover literature, politics, films and other areas that baseball has influenced. He will also have some guests to give you first-hand stories, including Mark Reese, a former professional baseball player and son of the legendary Pee Wee Reese.

Maybe you love the music of the American idols Gershwin, Bernstein and Porter and would like to hear their songs played live by concert pianist, music educator, lecturer and recording artist Dr. Judith Alstadter, who talks, informs and plays on our new, fabulous baby grand piano. If it’s classical music that gives your spirit wings, then come and soar to the music played by concert pianist Robbert deVreis who will play and lecture on the sonatas of Mozart, Beethoven Scarlatti, Schubert and Grieg and the 26 preludes of Chopin.

Do you want to kindle your passion for opera, jazz or dance? The school is fortunate to have RoseMarie Freni-Molinari, a retired professional opera singer and one of our most popular teachers. She teaches a perennial favorite called “Opera Previews.” She tells students all about the operas being performed at the Sarasota Opera each season and sprinkles the lectures with recordings and entertaining backstage stories gathered from her successful career.

Jazz appreciation is taught by jazz performers Michael Royal on the piano and Henry Ettman, a drummer and jazz historian. The greats of dance and their descendants will be taught by a vibrant former dancer Dina Shachar-Labes, who never fails to impress her students with the rare video clips she shows to illustrate her talks. The intensity and enthusiasm that Dina has brought to the classroom for more than a decade are what inspire students to keep coming back for more. Jay Wilson, one of our new faculty members who I recruited because I had heard so much about what a terrific dance historian he is, will be teaching the Royal Ballet in perspective.

Are you a snowbird or permanent resident of Longboat Key who has never really studied the birds and nature on our island’s shorelines and in our nearby preserves and parks? It is so much more interesting to have a professional nature guide and birder pointing out the habitats and habits of our flora and fauna. Join birders Michael Givant and Jim Larson and nature guide Harriet Gayle for fun and informative field trips.

Maybe you would be fascinated to discover that you can create art by doodling and meditating in a Zentangle workshop. This newest form of art taps into your creative self and helps you enjoy inner peace while doing it. Mary Masi, trained Zentangle teacher, offered a workshop in the fall and will be back again for another workshop in February by popular demand. The zentangles that the students created were amazing. I was in the workshop and couldn’t quite believe how easy and satisfying the whole creative process was. Everything created could have been framed.

Syria and the Middle East are hotbeds and we’ve got the newest information on these areas. Dr. Thomas Hecht, founder and chairman of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel, and Rich Bergman from the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish Federation will lecture, field questions and substantiate their information with videos. Molly McCartney, who has been a reporter for the Washington Post, Miami Herald, Atlanta Constitution, and Houston Post and who writes for Biz941 in Sarasota, was in Syria in May 2010 before it exploded. She will show the photos from that trip of the people and places seen and is keeping track of the recent events to bring the latest information on Syria in her one-time lecture.

Are you still scratching your head trying to figure out all the applications and features of your new iPhone or iPad? Don’t sweat it. Help is on the way. We didn’t grow up with these devices. Most 5-year-olds know more than we do about cell phones and computers. Bring yourself into the 21st century by coming and learning from a teacher the things you will probably never figure out on your own. Learn how to send text messages and take photos with your iPhone, how to use the App Store to download applications for your iPad and Skype those grandchildren.

Most of us read the newspapers. But how many of us really know what happens in the newsrooms? Who decides what’s newsworthy, what the influences and pressures are, the ethical issues? A tremendously noteworthy course, “Misunderstanding Media,” will be led by new faculty member Mr. Sam Roberts, who spent almost half a century with the most important news organizations in the world, covering some of the great events of the last half of the 20th century.

If you like to discuss things and participate, then you will love our movie discussion classes led by movie critics Kathie Moon and Gus Mollasis. We have six sections to satisfy the demand. For those who prefer to discuss world events or the controversial issues of the Supreme Court, join Stanley Kolodkin for a continental breakfast and stimulating conversation in “Breakfast Forums” or Jack Robinson for “Burning Issues in the Supreme Court.”

Why not consider this intriguing and somewhat esoteric course — “The Sounds of Silents” (play on words) —given by Peter Tavalin, pianist/keyboardist, composer and teacher. Peter will lecture and demonstrate that music is an essential element in movie making, especially in the silent films era. Since 1979 Peter has created seamless, improvised scores to classic silent films starring early firm stars like Lon Chaney, Buster Keaton, Lillian Gish and Charlie Chaplin. Join him, learn how he does it and enjoy seeing how it’s all put together.

There are dozens more courses and many special programs and events in January, February and March — this is just the tip of the iceberg. Yoga, bridge, Mah Jongg, climate change, men’s group, women’s group, book club, poetry, writing workshops, Kabbalah, film festivals, watercolor, art history, more daytrips to art museums and field trips to local arts organizations, as well as a behind the scenes look at Selby Gardens, breakfast with the sharks at Mote Marine Lab and 12 one-time lectures every Tuesday afternoon on diverse subjects with significant speakers — more than 150 programs to stimulate your mind and lift your spirits.

Give The Longboat Key Education Center a call today and let us send you a brochure. Call (941) 383-8811 or visit www.lbkeducationcenter.org.

Susan Goldfarb is a freelance writer who has been writing feature articles and columns for more than 25 years. She is the executive director of The Longboat Key Education Center. Send ideas and comments to susan@lbkeducationcenter.org.


Don’t miss these special programs upcoming in January:

One of our sell-outs this season is a course called “Jewish Artists in Paris In The Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries,” taught by art and architecture lecturer Jean Renoux. The newly added section will be from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Monday, Jan. 23 and Jan. 30. Cost is $40 for members, $45 for non-members.

Live Thursday Night New Orleans Jazz with Henry Blackburn and Guests will begin sometime in January. Stay tuned for the schedule. We have been having live New Orleans jazz nights for a few seasons and they have become vastly popular. Toe tapping, laughter, great music and nationally known musicians join Henry and his charming wife Stacy for memorable Thursday night jazz evenings.

“Demystifying Eastern Medicine” with Dr. Steven Roensch, dean of Clinical Sciences at the East-West College of Natural Medicine, as part of the “Lecture Series 2012.” From 3-4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10. Cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members.

Fuzion Dance Artists with Leymis Bolanos Wilmott, co-founder, and company members will present an afternoon of eclectic choreography with live music and a few of the company’s repertory favorites as part of the “In The Spotlight” Series. This dance company is quickly making its mark in the performing arts community and establishing itself as one of the most innovative and exciting company’s in the area. From 3-4:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 6. Cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members.

“Opera Highlights,” an exclusive engagement with selected singers of the Sarasota Opera as part of the “Off Campus” Series. This annual visit to the Sarasota Opera House is a perennial favorite. Enjoy a continental breakfast followed by an exclusive mixed program. Meet Susan Danis, executive director, and Victor DeRenzi, artistic director, and then take a short (optional) tour of the opera house. From 9:30-11:30 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 12. Cost is $20 for members, $25 for non-members (includes breakfast).

“Saying Goodbye to Mrs. D’Angelo” is a provocative and entertaining play written by award-winning playwright Bernard Yanelli and brought to us by Tom Aposporos, founder of Sarasota’s Theater Odyssey and president of the Longboat Key-Lido Key-St. Armand’s Chamber of Commerce, as part of the “Theatre Showcase” Series. The short plays brought by Tom last year were a big hit. The theme of this play focuses on an old-fashioned Italian widow with a secret. Engaging discussions with the director and actors follow all the plays. From 3-4:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 15. Cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members.

What a coup to have Elizabeth Bergmann, a graduate of the Juilliard School, choreographer, dancer and recently retired dance director from Harvard University, giving a special lecture, separate from our Lecture Series, called “The Legacy Of Martha Graham — Genius of the 20th Century” from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 9. Cost is $15 for members, $20 for non-members.

Join us on a comfortable bus — no worries about how to get there — for our first winter daytrip, to the historical Vinoy Hotel in St. Pete. We will tour the hotel and splendid gardens and enjoy a delightful lunch. Then off to the fourth largest Holocaust Museum in the United States to view the permanent and temporary collections with a special presentation and open discussion. From 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28. The bus departs from the Centre shops parking lot. Cost is $80 for members, $90 for non-members. Lunch and tour admissions included.

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