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Library releases list of most popular materials in 2012

Last week, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System released its annual list of the most popular materials of the year. Here it is:

Adult fiction

1. "The Litigators," John Grisham

2. "Private Games," James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

3. "The Innocent," David Baldacci

Adult non-fiction

1. "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resistance, and Redemption," Laura Hillenbrand

2. "Killing Lincoln: the Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever," Bill O'Reilly

3. "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin," Erik Larson

Young adult / teen

1. "Catching Fire (The Hunger Games)," Suzanne Collins

2. "Mockingjay (The Hunger Games)," Suzanne Collins

3. "The Hunger Games," Suzanne Collins

Children's fiction

1. "LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary," Simon Beecroft

2. "The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary: How Greg Heffley Went Hollywood," Jeff Kinney

3. "The LEGO Ideas Book: Unblock Your Imagination," Daniel Lipkowitz

Fiction ebooks

"Explosive Eighteen," Janet Evanovich

Non-fiction ebooks

"Too Close to the Falls," Catherine McClure Gildner

Most requested books

1. "Fifty Shades of Grey," E.L. James

2. "Gone Girl," Gillian Flynn

3. "Fifty Shades Darker," E.L. James

--Colin Dabkowski

Live chat: Miers on Music at noon

Thursday Theater Roundup

This week's Thursday Theatre Roundup is a thin one, as most area stages are dark. That is, save one: The Lancaster Opera House, which presents a 6:30 p.m. showing of "The Littlest Snow Monster," an original puppet show by Adam Kreutenger, Zach Haumesser, Cameron Garrity and Maria Droz. Here's the synopsis: "A village of snow monsters, high atop a mountain, hold a yearly winter Olympics. But the games can’t start this year, because the littlest snow monster has gone missing. Join us for this wonderful story of friendship, diversity and individual creativity."

Tickets are $10, with more information at or 683-1776.

--Colin Dabkowski

On the Feast of Stephen

Lots of people have sung about the Feast of Stephen, which takes place on Dec. 26. It was on that day, after all, that Good King Wenceslas looked out.

This year, you can celebrate the Feast of Stephen in high style. On Wednesday evening, the Harmonia Chamber Singers are performing a rarely heard Mass by the German Renaissance master Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612). The Mass, “Missa Super Dixit Maria,” will be performed as part of a Tridentine Latin Mass taking place at 7 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Church on Grand Island. 

You can preview the Hassler Mass in the video up above. It is performed there by the Ensemble Vocal Européen, Philippe Herreweghe conducting.

The Mass at St. Stephen's is a grand finale to the 150th anniversary celebrations held over the course of 2012 by the historic parish. It will be held in the historic church, which dates to 1862. The Rev. Paul Nogaro, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church, will be the celebrant.

The occasion marks the third time that Harmonia Chamber Singers have sung at a Tridentine Mass. The virtuosic choir, which jokes that it sings music “from the Renaissance to Rockapella,” previously sang Palestrina’s famous “Pope Marcellus Mass” at St. Louis Church, and the Rorate Mass, a traditional Advent celebration, at St. Ann’s Church and Shrine.

“It’s one of our offshoots, our side jobs, doing Latin masses,” said Robert Pacillo, the director of Harmonia. “It’s great when you can take music and put it in its intended setting. Especially the Masses, it’s a rarity to have them performed in a Mass setting. It’s probably more common in the bigger cities.”

Pope Benedict XVI, a musician himself, has been encouraging greater use of Latin, Gregorian chant and music by great Catholic composers of the past, such as Mozart and Beethoven. Two Sunday Tridentine Masses are currently being celebrated in the Buffalo area. One is at 9 a.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Church downtown, and the other is at 1:30 p.m. at Our Lady Help of Christians in Cheektowaga.

Harmonia’s performance of the Hans Leo Hassler Mass is part of a religious celebration but is open to all. There is no admission charge. Go and imagine yourself back in the Middle Ages. St. Stephen’s Church is at 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island. For info, call 773-7647.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

Live chat: Miers on Music at noon

A major windfall for Springville's Center for the Arts

Lifestlyes Gusto cover scull
Seth Wochensky from the Springville Center for the Arts in Springville on Thursday, March 15, 2012. (Photo by Harry Scull Jr. / Buffalo News).

On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced the second round of grants from its Regional Economic Development initiative. As far as Western New York was concerned, the most surprising items on the list had to be two major grants for the Springville Center for the Arts to fund a pair of projects to repair and improve two historic buildings in the heart of the village. They totaled more than $800,000, a gargantuan sum for an arts organization of the SCA's size.

Back in April, I wrote a story on the center's attempts to revitalize an economically downtrodden community, which you can read in PDF form here. (Our archives are not yet back online.) The SCA, which has one of the better strategic plans I've ever read, was already an extraordinary example of how the arts can benefit a small community. This investment has the potential to turn it into a national model for reviving main streets around the country.

I talked with SCA director Seth Wochensky today about the grants, how the small organization managed to procure them and what they mean for the future of Springville's community and economy. My story on the grants will run tomorrow, but in the meantime, here's our chat:


--Colin Dabkowski

Live video chat: Critics' Corner with Dabkowski & Miers at 1 p.m.

A look at Cannon Design's new McKinley High School

Cannon Design's new McKinley High School on Elmwood Avenue opened this week. Here's a video Cannon put together exploring the new space:

--Colin Dabkowski

Readers weigh in on Bills subsidy debate

My Sunday column this past week focused on a provocative comment from departing Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director Louis Grachos. In my exit interview with him in November, Grachos complained about a political culture that allows Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson to draw massive subsidies from taxpayers while local arts groups become the subject of a yearly political debate over whether they're worth the modest public investment they receive.

This, understandably, prompted some strong reactions from readers. Most of the comments on the articles agreed at least in part with Grachos' suggestion that the Bills seemed to be making off with more than their share of taxpayer money. But I'd like to share one reaction, an email I received from Cleveland student Anthony Scott, that makes a different argument:

News Arts Critic Colin Dabkowski asks for a debate in how public monies are used to fund arts institutions versus sports teams.

Referring to sports economists is mildly disingenuous of him, as he is also vulnerable to one of their key arguments –- leisure spending is interchangeable. The 2006 UB Regional Institute report on the arts asserts that nearly all of the public sector benefits of art support come from sales tax revenue, so they are easily replaced by entertainment dollars spent elsewhere if funding cuts take a toll on local art institutions.

Continue reading "Readers weigh in on Bills subsidy debate" »

Live chat: Miers on Music at noon

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