Friday, April 20, 2012

William Kennedy hosts Pinkster Celebration on 6/1

In Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Kennedy's new novel, Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, he writes of the Albany Pinksterfest as follows:

"The Pinksterfest, held when the azaleas bloomed, was a week-long Mardi Gras where the slaves of Albany vented their misfortune through music, dance and carousing."

Please make plans to Join our Honored Guest, William Kennedy, on Friday, June 1 as we host the 2nd annual Pinkster Day Celebration at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany.

In the 18th century in New York's Hudson Valley, Pinkster Day was a most-anticipated holiday. Pinkster Day was a celebration of spring for all: a religious holiday for the Dutch, and for enslaved Africans, time off from work and a chance to gather with friends and family. The holiday began on the seventh Monday following Easter, the day after the Christian Holy Day of Pentecost or Whitsunday. In 2012, Pinkster Day falls on Memorial Day (May 28), so we will delay our celebration until Friday, June 1.

This year, our Pinkster Day Celebration boasts one of Albany's favorite sons as its Honored Guest, William Kennedy. For some 40 years, he has crafted history and memory into a body of literature that is as remarkable for its variety as it is for erecting an Albany of the imagination. As some have said, "What James Joyce did for Dublin and Saul Bellow did for Chicago, William has done for Albany." 

The celebration of Pinkster Day was outlawed by the Albany Common Council on April 28, 1811, with a resolution that read, "No person shall erect any tent, booth or stall within the limits of this city, for the purpose of vending any spirituous liquors, beer, mead or cider, or any kind of meat, fish cakes or fruit, on the days commonly called Pinxter; nor to collect in numbers for the purpose of gambling or dancing, or any other amusements, in any part of the city, or to march or parade, with or without any music under a penalty of ten dollars or confinement in jail." Club members petitioned the Common Council to repeal the ban, and the prohibition was lifted on May 16, 2011. The Club's inaugural Pinkster Day Celebration was held on Monday, June 13.

The University Club revived the Pinkster Day tradition in 2011 to commemorate the listing of the Clubhouse on the National Register of Historic Places. The Pinkster Day Celebration honored Albany's rich history by with readings from four centuries of scholarly and popular publications documenting the people and places of New York's capital city. Readers included Justin DiVirgilio, Paul Stewart, Jennifer Lemak, University Club President Warren Abriel, Paul Grondahl and Ed Dague.

Tickets for the 2012 Pinkster Day Celebration are $50 per person. Invitations will be mailed by May 1 - please call the U. Club at 518-463-1151 for more information or to receive an invitation. 

The event will feature a cocktail reception with light fare and open bar from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m., followed by a talk and book signing with William Kennedy. Books will be available for purchase from The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, and the University Club will keep 20% of the cover price. When the reception wraps up at 8:00 p.m., we invite all Pinkster Day revelers to head down to the Grille Room for live music from Julia Donnaruma and Friends as part of the University Club's ongoing support of 1st Friday. On the first Friday of each month, the University Club serves as a venue for 1st Friday, the downtown arts walk that showcases Albany's thriving and lively art scene!

This promises to be a historic evening! By joining us for the Pinkster Day Celebration, you will honor the legacy of University Club members past and present as we strive to preserve our historic traditions for the future. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Big Night" Dinner - Friday, April 27

Building on the success of our Robert Burns Supper celebrating the food, music and culture of Scotland, the U. Club Foundation will host a "Big Night Dinner" on Friday, April 27, celebrating the music, culture and food (yes, there will be Timpano!) of Italy.

Arrive at 5:30 for cocktails, appetizers and music inspired by the movie (prosecco, chianti, martinis, antipasto, poached salmon, crostini).

Enjoy the swingin' sounds of the late 1950s, and feel free to dress as you would have to go out to a nice dinner in NYC in the era of The Rat Pack. Gloves and costume jewelry for the ladies, skinny ties and slick hair for the gents... Dressing the part is optional but encouraged!

Dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. and our Italian chef Kevin Pagano will recreate some of the traditional dishes featured in the movie - baked chicken, fish, risotto, roasted vegetables, and - of course - Timpano.

Tickets are $40 per person, $75 for two, and include appetizers, dinner, desserts and coffee/tea. A portion of the proceeds benefit the University Club Foundation, so tickets may be purchased with cash or check (drinks may be charged to member accounts.)

Non-member guests are welcome - the more the merrier! This event is sponsored by the University Club of Albany Foundation.The Foundation is a 501c3 corporation formed to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the National Register-listed University Club building, its historic neighborhood and the city of Albany, where it has been located since its inception in 1901.

Monday, April 9, 2012

And ... ACTION - Act I - Tuesday 4/10

Bringing the Past to Life
"American General: Benedict Arnold"
with Filmmaker Tom Mercer

6:00 - 7:00 p.m. - Networking Reception
7:00 - 8:00 p.m. - Presentation and Discussion

American General: Benedict Arnold is a documentary film about one of the most controversial and influential men in American history. Few Americans truly understand the complexity behind his story and the immense sacrifices Arnold made for the cause of American Independence.  Some of the most compelling parts of his story are set right in our region of Upstate New York.  The program uses noted historians, state-of-the-art visual effects, dramatic recreations, exciting battle sequences, and startling realism to immerse viewers in the American Revolution. 

In his presentation at the University Club, Tom will show some clips from the film and talk about the journey he and his partners have embarked upon as they strive to bring history to to life.

Throughout the Spring Filmmakers Forum, actors, screenwriters, producers, and independent filmmakers will share their insights, their experiences, and their thoughts on what makes a great film at the University Club of Albany, 141 Washington Avenue at Dove Street.

The Spring Filmmakers Forum is presented by the University Club of Albany Foundation, and all sessions will be open to the public. The series is co-sponsored by the Lark Street BID and the Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau/Albany Film Commission.

Each session in the series will be held from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m., with a networking reception from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. (cash bar) and the presentation commencing at 7:00 p.m.

The cost is $10 per session, a subscription to all 3 is available for $25, and light fare will be provided at each event. Reservations are suggested and may be made by calling the University Club at 518-463-1151.

The University Club Foundation, a 501c3 corporation, was formed to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the University Club building and property, its historic neighborhood and the city of Albany, where it has been located since its inception in 1901.

Save the dates! 

ACT II - Tuesday, April 24
Filmmaking as an Economic Engine
With Mike Camoin and Larry Jackson

Tuesday, May 1
A Sense of Place: Challenges, Opportunities in a Small Market
With Rich Lounello

Thomas Mercer holds a Masters Degree from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and he studied film at Ithaca College while pursuing a degree in Politics. Tom has garnered substantial experience as a producer director and writer.  His recent works include:
  • American General: Benedict Arnold.  Co-producer and Writer.   This two hour cinematic documentary is currently in post-production and intended for national television broadcast.
  • The Peacemaker's Journey.  Director and Co-writer.  This feature length documentary film, currently in pre-production, uses the oral traditions of the great Peacemaker who founded the Iroquois Confederacy over on thousand years ago to teach peace in our time.
  • UnCivil Liberties.  Writer and Director of independent narrative feature film with national distribution by Ariztical Entertainment (2007).
  • Face of the Enemy. Writer and Producer of independent digital short film. Shown at the Claremont - Ferrand Film Festival in France (2004) and currently in European distribution by BritShorts of London.
  • 225th Anniversary of the Battles of Saratoga.  Co-producer and co-writer of the official commemorative video of the large scale re-enactment of the Battle of Saratoga. (2003)
  • Saratoga National Historic Park Visitor Center Orientation Film.  Associate Producer for Piranha Films.  (2002)