INTENSIVE – Professional dancer Adam McKinney formerly with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and choreographer Sarah Ashkin lead a rehearsal of an upcoming Summer Dance Intensive production Thursday in Allen Hall. Students will dance a 25-minute program Saturday 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. A five dollar donation is suggested at the door. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

June 3, 2015 Community Happenings


Festival Notes:


By Susan Wingrove

   Alaska’s yearned-for summer days of light and warmth also means it’s time to welcome home the Sitka Summer Music Festival. Zuill Bailey, Music Director and cellist, has pulled out all the stops and it’s now become urgent that you check your calendar and plan to attend the many splendid events that are about to happen in Paris of the North.

Every concert and event is going to be jaw-droppingly awesome. The opening week will feature a fabulous slate of musicians – including pianist Navah Perlman, the Duo Parnas (Madalyn and Cecily, two sisters who play violin and cello), oboist Thom Moore, and violist Martin Sher. These are artists who get rave reviews on concert stages all over the world. We are truly lucky to get to see and hear them in Sitka!

   Wednesday night the first SSMF free café concert will take place at 6:30 pm in the Westmark Raven Dining Room. Come hear oboist Thom Moore with strings in the exquisite Mozart Oboe Quartet – a scrumptious way to whet your appetite for the weekend!  And don’t forget Thursday’s Bach’s Lunch at the new starting time this year – 12:30. This casual free event will feature works by Martinu, Mozart and Ravel - glorious music within the walls of the lovingly restored Odess Theater in Allen Hall on campus.

   Friday night’s concert in Harrigan Centennial Hall will feature a galaxy of composers. Join me for the pre-concert chat at 6:45 to hear some of the inside stories about the composers and music and also meet some of the artists – including oboist Thom who is also a Grammy-award winning producer. Handel’s C minor Oboe Sonata (c1712) is a melodic gem; the composer was a gigantic man who loved to read and collected paintings – friends insisted he could swear in five languages. Beethoven admired him as the “best and greatest composer who ever lived.” Britten’s Phantasy Quartet for Oboe and Strings reveals an intriguing palette of unique musical colors. Written when he was 18 years old, Sitkans can definitely identify with this man who loved the sea all his life. Next, a masterpiece from the world of movie music - the stately, haunting “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the 1986 film ‘‘The Mission.’’ Morricone’s wildly popular score, described by many as the best music ever written for a movie, sold over 3 million copies. Navah will captivate us with Chopin’s virtuosic and emotional Ballade No. 1; this extraordinary piece was featured in the 2002 film ‘‘The Pianist.’’ The concert will conclude with Mozart’s remarkable Piano Quartet in E Flat Major. Annotator Laurie Shulman described the beautiful work as “a finely cut, polished jewel of classical architecture.”

   Saturday night is romantic heaven. After the 6:45 pre-concert chat you will be transported with Chopin’s intoxicating and evocative ‘‘Barcarolle.’’ Barcarolle was one of Chopin’s favorite pieces – he played it often. A biographer described it as “a work of bewildering beauty.” The piece begins calmly but builds like the immense swells of the open ocean. Sitkans will identify with this on many levels! Brahms’s first work for a solo instrument with piano, Cello Sonata in E minor, was composed while he was on the faculty of a Viennese music school and includes a tribute to Bach’s ‘‘The Art of the Fugue.’’ The score is full of technical wizardry and tremendous expressive power. Beethoven’s Piano Trio in E Flat Major, Op. 1, No. 1 was his carefully chosen first published composition (1794-95). He had recently moved to Vienna to study with Haydn; after the premiere of his three piano trios at a salon concert everyone in Vienna was gossiping about him. After you hear this wonderful work you will understand why! 

   Sunday’s free Family Concert is happening this year at 3 p.m. in Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi. The program will include an encore of Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe plus Mozart’s Oboe Quartet and a fabulous Quartet for Bassoon and Strings by French composer Devienne. And after the concert everyone gets a free root beer float! Don’t miss the engaging music and the fun! 

   A new feature of this year’s SSMF is the Tuesday preview. Come to Stevenson Hall for a 5:30-6:30 p.m. overview of the upcoming week’s musical offerings. You will have a chance to hear musical examples and enticing tidbits about many of the featured works for the Bach’s Lunch and evening concerts – and you can ask questions and maybe meet some of the artists, too! Hope to see you there - and at all the 2015 SSMF events! Check out the website at to keep track of the complete calendar and artist info. Get tickets and bring friends and family…It doesn’t matter if you are a classical music nerd like me or someone new to the concert hall; live music well played reaches us all!  Join me as a fellow eager audience member for the fantastic 2015 SSMF! 


Susan Wingrove-Reed is a music educator from Anchorage. She writes program notes for the Sitka Summer Music Festival, and gives pre-concert lectures. 


CG Senior Chief Blanco

Retires After 27 Years

Senior Chief Christian Blanco retired from the U.S. Coast Guard on May 29, after 27 years of service.

Blanco started his career on Jan. 4, 1988, at Training Center Cape May, where he attended basic training. After graduation, he was assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, home-ported in Seattle.  He quickly advanced to seaman and qualified as boatswains mate of the Watch. While aboard the Polar Star, 1988-1990, he toured the Arctic twice, circumnavigated North America once, and cleared shipping lanes for McMurdo Research Center in Antarctica. 

In 1990, he attended Aviation Electrician’s Mate “A” School in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Upon graduation, he was advanced to petty officer and transferred to Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, where he qualified as an avionicsman on the HH-3 Pelican helicopter.

In 1991, he transitioned from the HH-3 to the brand-new HH-60 Jayhawk and became a qualified flight mechanic. Blanco spent five years in Traverse City and achieved the rank of second class petty officer.

He transferred to Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod in 1995 where he spent his tour working night check maintenance. During that tour, the “AE” rate was retired and he became an aviation maintenance technician. At the conclusion of the tour, he advanced to first class petty officer and reported for duty at Air Station Sitka.

Soon after his arrival in Sitka, the longliner fishing vessel Becca Dawn sank in the Fairweather Grounds of the Gulf of Alaska as it sought refuge from an early winter storm. Becca Dawn’s 406 EPIRB was activated and Blanco, the duty flight mechanic, launched in the middle of the night to investigate the distress call. Three of the Becca Dawn’s four crew members were located and hoisted to safety, despite the epic environmental conditions caused by 45-foot seas and 40- to 65-knot winds. Blanco and the rest of the aircrew were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for their heroic efforts.

In 2005, after six years in Sitka,  Blanco was advanced to chief petty officer and received orders to Air Station San Diego, his first duty station south of I-80. Blanco spent the next four years drying out from his time in the rain forest of Southeast Alaska, working as Air Station San Diego’s maintenance chief. In 2009, with an unquenchable thirst for rain,  Blanco returned for a second tour of duty at Air Station Sitka. It was during his second tour in Sitka that he met his soon-to-be-wife, Seimeen.

In 2013, Blanco was advanced to senior chief petty officer and once again received orders south of I-80 to Barbers Point, Hawaii. While in Barbers Point he served as the HC-130 maintenance control supervisor.

In 2014, he and Seimeen were wed on the tropical sands of Hawaii.

‘‘Senior Chief Blanco’s exceptional professionalism, technical expertise and true leadership will be missed,’’ the Coast Guard said.


On Dean’s List

Raeanna Wood has achieved a place on the University of Evansville, Indian, dean’s list for academic achievements during the spring semester. She is majoring in archaeology.

To make the dean’s list, a student must earn at least a 3.5 grade point average.

The 2012 Sitka High graduate is the daughter of Jack and Katy Wood.



Nominations Sought

For STA Awards

The Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council is requesting letters of nomination for Tribal Citizen of the Year and Tribal Elder of the Year.

Letters must include the name of the person being nominated, their contributions and accomplishments, and contact information for both the nominee and nominator and sent to: Chairman Michael Baines, Citizen Nomination, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, 456 Katlian Street, Sitka AK 99835.

The acceptance deadline is 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 8.


Only Fools Run

Set for June 20

Southeast Alaska’s wildest running series, Only Fools Run at Midnight, will be June 20.

This year Raven Radio is teaming up with SAIL to sponsor the costume-clad evening. Prizes will be awarded.

Registration is open, and the entry fee is $20. Go to or to register online, or pick up a form at Raven Radio, SAIL, Old Harbor Books or First Bank.


Youth Advocates

Board to Meet

Youth Advocates of Sitka’s board of directors will meet 5:15-7 p.m. Monday, June 8, at YAS’s 805 Lincoln Street office. The meeting is open to the public.


SCDC to Meet

Sitka Community Development Corporation will meet 7-8 p.m. Monday, June 8, at the Baranof Island Brewing Company upstairs room at 215 Smith Street.

SCDC is a community-supported non-profit working to establish permanently affordable housing in Sitka. Members of the public are being encouraged to attend. For more information call 747-2860.



Story Time Set

The next Preschool Story time program at Kettleson Memorial Library will be 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 11.

“Super Bugs” will be the theme of the program that includes songs and games around literacy activities and a craft.

The event is part of the Early Literacy Summer Reading Program ‘‘Every Hero Has a Story.’’ The program is open to young people, preschool through young adult, offering free programs and prizes. It runs May to August and families can register their babies, toddlers and preschoolers anytime through the summer. For more information call the library at 747-8708.



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