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Fall officially began on September 23rd.  Two weeks later, we had a record high temperature of 98 degrees.  Things cooled off a bit this weekend, although we’ll likely make it back up close to 80 degrees today.  The region has also been suffering for the past month through a moderate drought, which shows little sign of ending soon.  But assuming real fall weather will kick in at some point, Tom checks in with our garden gurus to see what we need to think about as we finish our harvesting and planting, and prepare to put our outdoor gardens to bed for the winter...  

AP Photo by Jose Luis Magana

Midday host Tom Hall began the Friday Midday on Music show with this update on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump:

"A brief word on the latest revelations in the impeachment inquiry.  Last night, the House Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Intelligence  Committees released text messages between diplomats related to President Trump’s posture towards Ukraine.  The exchanges between Special Envoy Kurt Volker and several others were released after Volker testified for nearly 10 hours behind closed doors yesterday.  The messages, from late July, August and September, indicate that President Trump was unwilling to meet with President Zelensky of Ukraine unless Zelensky agreed, in writing, to investigate Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian oil company.  Democrats point to this as an illegal effort to leverage the office of the President for personal gain.  So far, Republican reaction is that the text messages exonerate the President...

Photo by Matt Dine

Today on Midday, we break from the news of the day, and focus on that which is great and good about the human condition.  It’s Midday on MusicA little later, we’ll be treated to some tunes by the guitar/harp duo, Robin Bullock and Sue Richards.  Their performance is posted separately here.

We begin today with Hanzhi Wang.  This virtuoso concert accordionist was born 29 years ago in China. She now lives and teaches in Copenhagen, Denmark. 

She is the first accordionist to win the prestigious Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York.  Ms. Wang is not your grandfather’s polka-playing accordionist, nor is she the organ-grinder busker in Little Italy with the dancing monkey.  As you will  hear, she is a virtuoso on an instrument that is not usually associated with art music.  We streamed our conversations today on the WYPR Facebook Page, so you can see that the instrument she is playing -- the button accordion -- doesn’t even look like most accordions you’ve seen before.   

During her live performance on Midday, Hanzhi Wang plays three pieces, in this order:

“My Story” by Hanzhi Wang;  “Etincelles” by Moritz Moszkowski; and “La Muerte del Angel”  by Astor Piazzolla.   

Hanzhi Wang performs Saturday night (October 5) at a concert at the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College in Columbia.  It’s part of the Candlelight Concert Society series.  She'll play music of Bach, Rameau, Scarlatti, Grieg and Schnittke.  The concert starts at 7:30.  Wang's latest CD is called On the Path to H.C. Anderson on the Naxos label.  It includes music by contemporary Danish composers.  Hanzhi Wang is on the faculty of the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen.   She posts on Instagram.  

Photo by Don Baker

Today's edition of Midday on Music continues now with two great musician friends of Midday joining Tom once again in Studio A: They are Robin Bullock, who has appeared as a solo artist and as part of Helicon; and Sue Richards, who has played here previously as a member of Ensemble Galilei.  Now, they have teamed up as a duo and released a terrific CD of traditional Celtic music called Highland Ramble. Robin plays  guitar, mandolin and cittern, among other traditional string instruments.  Sue is a four time National Scottish Harp Champion. 

We streamed their performance today on WYPR's Facebook Page, and you can watch the video here, beginning at 36:00 into the feed.

The duo plays two tunes from the Highland Ramble CD: "Loftus Jones" by Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan, and "Farmors Brudpolska," a traditional 19th century Swedish wedding polska.

Robin Bullock and Sue Richards play at 7:30pm tonight (Friday, October 4)at the Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore, as part of the Common Ground on the Hill Concert Series.

If you miss them tonight, they’ll be back in Baltimore on December 6th at Govans Presbyterian Church; Robin will be playing a solo all-Bach concert at An Die Musik in Baltimore on November 1st. 

photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

It’s the October edition of Midday at the Movies, our monthly look at films and filmmaking.  Tom  begins the show by noting that the Maryland Film Festival has named interim executive director Sandra L. Gibson as its new permanent director.

Then, MdFF founder and retired director Jed Dietz joins Tom to discuss the crop of new fall films showing this weekend on local screens, including Joker, Judy, Ad Astra, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, and Monos, among others.  

After the break, Tom and Jed are joined by Phil Davis, a Baltimore filmmaker, TowsonU. professor of film and animation, and the founding director of the Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Festival, a newly expanded 3-day event running Oct. 4-6 at the Parkway. We also speak by phone with Portland-based animator Joanna Priestley, the Festival's visiting guest artist and director-producer of 30 award-winning animated films.  She shares her perspectives on the weekend festival and trends in the artform.

Photography by Britt Olsen-Ecker

It's time for another of theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck's weekly reviews of the Maryland stage.   Today, she spotlights Mr. Wolf, a new production by Single Carrot Theatre being staged at the Rectory of St. John's Church in Waverly.

Co-directed for Single Carrot by Ensemble Members Genevieve deMahy and Lauren Erica Jackson, the play by Rajiv Joseph explores the complex issues surrounding missing and abused children, and our definitions of family.  Ensemble Member Paul Diem (as Michael) teams up with  Zara Cojocaru (as Theresa), Phil Gallagher (as Mr. Wolf),  Ama Brown (as Julie) and Elizabeth Darby (as Hana).

Mr. Wolf  by Single Carrot Theatre continues at the St. John's Church Rectory, at 3009 Greenmount Ave., Baltimore, Maryland 21218, through Sunday, October 13.  For ticket information, click here.

Photo Credit AP/ Evan Vucci

Today on Midday, a conversation about where we are, and where we’re headed, as the U.S. Congress moves to impeach President Donald J. Trump. 

This week, for the first time, polling shows close to half of all Americans support the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Polls are also showing a 10-percentage-point spike in the president's approval rating among Republicans since Nancy Pelosi announced last week the start of formal impeachment proceedings. 

Will the political polarity that has accompanied the Trump presidency continue, or will some Republicans join the independents who are slowly beginning to peel away from the President, amidst revelations about self-dealing with foreign leaders?

Photo Courtesy / Dr. Sheri Parks

On, the latest installment of  Midday Culture Connections, Tom and Dr. Sheri Parks explore the phenomenon known as “cancel culture.”   

Shane Gillis almost hit it big.  He was hired to be on SNL, but after videos of the comedian using racial slurs surfaced on the internet, he was fired before he even started.  Many have lobbed criticism at the media, citing an obsession with “call out culture” and political correctness that has gone too far.  And maybe, in a way, Shane Gillis has hit it big anyway.

So, is “cancel culture” the apex of political correctness gone mad, or are we witnessing the long overdue societal shunning of behaviors and ideas that are steeped in generations of racial and gender inequity? 

Dr. Sheri Parks joins Tom in Studio A to talk about backlash abounding to everything from the New York Times to The Joker Movie.    

By Heidi Ross

Tom’s guest today is the acclaimed writer Ann Patchett. She is the winner of the Pen Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize for fiction, and her work has been translated into more than 30 languages.

Patchett is the author of eight novels, the latest of which, The Dutch House, was just published last week.  As with some of her other immensely popular books -- novels such as Commonwealth, State of Wonder and Bel Canto -- in The Dutch House, Patchett writes with grace, authority and limitless compassion. Her characters navigate a complicated world with humility and fortitude, and she reveals their stories with a masterful touch, peppered with brilliant and straight-forward observations that elucidate that which is poignant and important about the human condition.

Ann Patchett joins Tom on the line from the studios of Spotland Productions in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Their conversation was recorded September 20, 2019, so we couldn't take any calls, emails or tweets. 

AP photo by Seth Wenig.

The eastern European nation (and former Soviet republic) of Ukraine has been thrust into the news this week with the revelations about the phone call this past summer between President Trump and Ukraine's newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  

What do we know about this young new leader of Ukraine or, for that matter, any of the other figures who are mentioned in the Whistleblower complaint made public yesterday, or referenced by Presidents Trump and Zelenskyy in their infamous phone call on July 25th?  Tom's first guest today knows Ukraine well...  

The Baltimore Museum of Art: Purchased as the gift of Anonymous Donors, BMA 2017.37.

On Sunday, September 29, the Baltimore Museum of Art will open a huge new exhibition of works by contemporary African American artists.  It’s called “Generations: A History of Black Abstract Art.”  It includes nearly 80 works, many of which are part of the single most important and extensive collection of Black artists in the world.  That collection belongs to Pamela J. Joyner and Alfred J. Giuffrida, and just yesterday, the BMA announced that Ms. Joyner and Mr. Giuffrida were donating some of their collection to the museum permanently.  

You can see a few examples of works from the "Generations" exhibition in the slide show above. (All images used with permission.)

Pamela Joyner and Christopher Bedford, the BMA’s Director and a co-curator of the exhibition,  join Tom in Studio A to discuss the genesis and extraordinary scope of the new show, which continues at the Baltimore Museum of Art through January 19, 2020.

photo by Gerry Szymansk.

Today, Live in Studio A, we welcome French guitar virtuoso Thomas Viloteau.  A musical prodigy who has lived, studied and performed all over the world, he’s won a guitar-case full of prestigious international guitar competitions.  In 2019, he joined the guitar faculty at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.

Today, he performs two pieces for us: Le Passage des Alpes by Napoleon Coste, and Tango En Skai by Roland Dyens. 

Mr. Viloteau is one of three guitarists who will be playing at the Monument City Brewing Company in Baltimore Saturday night (9/28)  to kick off the new Bach in the Brewery Concert Series, a project of the Baltimore School of Music. The BSM's owner and CEO James Lowe will host the event and also perform, along with Isaac Greene.  For directions and Eventbrite ticket info, click here.

This performance was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page;  watch the video here.

It’s been quite a week in the nation’s capital, even by standards of the chaotic Trump Administration.

On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress would begin an impeachment inquiry. On Wednesday, the White House released what they described as an “unclassified memorandum” that summarizes a call between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine on July 25, 2019. The memorandum was prepared by note takers who were listening to the call in the White House Situation room. And this morning, just before acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified in open session to the House Intelligence Committee, the Whistle Blower report that set an impeachment inquiry in motion was released. Admiral Maguire began his testimony shortly after 9:00 this morning. That testimony will continue in closed session later today.

Tom talks about all of this today with Congressman John Sarbanes, who represents Maryland’s 3rd District. He also serves on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is chaired by his fellow Maryland Congressman, Elijah Cummings. 

And then, Scott Shane of The New York Times joined Tom. In 2017 and again last year, he was a part of teams that won Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of Russian hacking and interference in US elections.

Photography by Bill Geenen

Midday theater J. Wynn Rousuck joins us now with another of her weekly reviews of the Maryland stage.  Today, she spotlights Miss You Like Hell, a timely 2016 musical about immigration now in production at Baltimore Center Stage.

With book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes and music and lyrics by composer Erin McKeown,  Miss You Like Hell takes us on the cross-country road trip of Beatriz, an undocumented immigrant (played by Lorraine Velez) and her troubled teenage daughter Olivia (played by Stephanie Gomérez), and introduces us to the constellation of characters they meet along the way.   Directed by Rebecca Martinez, with music direction by Tiffany Underwood Holmes, the musical explores themes of escaping and belonging, the power of the mother-daughter bond, and the wrenching challenge of the migrant experience.

Miss You Like Hell continues at Baltimore Center Stage through Sunday, October 13.  For directions and ticket info, click here.

AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster

We begin the program today with a conservative Republican congressman's reaction to the dramatic political developments of the past 24 hours.  

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D, CA) announced on Tuesday (24 Sept.) that congressional oversight hearings spread over six Democrat-led House committees would now constitute a formal inquiry into the impeachment of President Donald Trump.  And a couple of hours before our broadcast Wednesday, the White House released what it described as an “unclassified memorandum” that summarizes a controversial call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, 2019.  The memorandum was prepared by note-takers who were listening to the call in the White House Situation room. 

Congressman Andy Harris, a Republican lawmaker who represents Maryland’s 1st district in the U.S. House of Representatives, joins Tom on the phone from Capitol Hill to offer his perspectives.

Center for Mind-Body Medicine

Now, a conversation about techniques for recovering from trauma.   The Greek  word for "injury,"  trauma refers to the lingering psychological wounds that adversely impact a person's mental and physical health long after their traumatic experience, whether it's warfare, natural disaster, sexual assaults, gun violence, life-threatening illness or countless other wrenching life crises.   This summer, Tom spoke with Baltimore City Councilmen Zeke Cohen and Kristofer Burnett about a bill they have introduced to make Baltimore a “trauma responsive” city, recognizing that so many of our young people in particular are exposed to often unrelenting levels of violence that leads to trauma.   

Dr. James Gordon has spent the past 30 years helping trauma victims like these and thousands of others around the world to make their lives whole again, using a range of self-awareness and self-care techniques drawn from Eastern and Western medical traditions.  Dr. Gordon is a Harvard-trained professor of clinical psychiatry and family medicine at Georgetown Medical School, and the founder, in 1991, of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, DC.  His latest book is called The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma.

Dr. Gordon was scheduled to speak later this afternoon at the International Arts + Mind Lab at the Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  Now, he is with Tom in Studio A, and listeners are welcome to join the conversation as well…

Courtesy of MPT

Next week, Maryland Public Television turns 50.

Tom welcomed Rhea Feikin to Studio A today to reminisce about MPT's storied history.  Feikin has been an on-air presence at MPT for more than 40 years.

To mark its 50th anniversary, MPT is airing a documentary called Made Possible By Viewers Like You: 50 Years of Maryland Public Television on Saturday, October 5th at 8:00 pm.

Also, check out the traveling exhibition that tells the story of MPT at the Carroll County Library in Eldersburg this month, and at the Central Branch of the Howard County Library in Columbia next month.

Courtesy of Baltimore Sun

Today on Midday, a conversation about a labor dispute that affects the future of local journalism; in particular, the Baltimore Sun.

Let’s keep in mind just how important the Sun is to our community.  In terms of this radio show, it’s the first place we check every morning to keep up to date with what’s going on in and around Baltimore, and throughout the state of Maryland.  Midday, like many other radio and TV broadcast outlets relies on reporters at the Sun for breaking stories, and for providing context to issues that Sun reporters know better than anyone else.  

Last night, the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, which represents reporters, photographers and others at the paper, voted to approve an offer for a contract extension from Tribune Publishing, the parent company of the Sun.  

We are joined today by three Sun reporters who have been part of the Guild's negotiating team during the recent bargaining sessions, and can speak to the issues at stake in the negotiations:

AP photo by Patrick Semansky

Today, a conversation about what Baltimore’s Inner Harbor used to be, and what it could be.   

Since it was built in 1980, Harborplace has been one of our city’s signature tourist attractions, a centerpiece of Baltimore's downtown redevelopment.  Now, after years of neglect and declining profits, the "festival marketplace" has been placed in receivership. It’s losing money, it’s losing stores, and it’s losing patrons.  Compared to the glitzier Harbor East, is Harborplace a loser?

There are some who think we should convince new stores and restaurants to occupy the currently vacant storefronts, and others who think this is the moment to tear down much or all of it and re-purpose Harborplace as green space and non-retail space.  In a recent competition, entrants were asked to let their imaginations soar when it comes to what Baltimore’s waterfront could look like.  Today on Midday, a survey of some of the proposals to modernize the waterfront property, and what the redevelopment of Harborplace could mean for tourists, locals and local entrepreneurs. 

Photo Courtesy AP / Oded Balilty

Today on the Midday News Wrap, Israel's Knesset remains deadlocked after Tuesday’s election.   

A Whistle Blower in the Intelligence Community raises concerns, but the Justice Department tells Congress it can’t know what those concern are.

And, is a drone attack on a Saudi oil facility last Saturday the latest in a series of Iranian responses to the US campaign of sanctions and maximum pressure?

Tom's guests today are:

David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute and director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations.  His latest book is called Be Strong and Of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped It’s Destiny, which he wrote with Ambassador Dennis Ross.

Julian Borger is the world affairs editor at The Guardian.

Both men join us from NPR studios in Washington.

Photo Courtesy Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo

Tom speaks with Valeria Howard Cunningham, the CEO and president of the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, about the importance of the African American western heritage and the rodeo tradition.

The Bill Pickett Invitational—the only touring African American rodeo in the United States—will be at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro on Saturday, September 21st.   

For more information about the tour, including ticket information and showtimes, visit the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo webpage. 

Photo Courtesy MICA

Tuesday was Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of America’s founding document in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787.  For the last several years, the MD Institute College of Art here in Baltimore has held a Constitution Day Symposium to discuss various issues of the day related to the Constitution. 

This year’s panel will include Courtland Cox, a civil rights activist who was with the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, when he was a student at Howard University.  In the 1970s, he served as the Secretary General of the Sixth Pan-African Congress and international meeting of African people in Tanzania.  He also served in the Clinton Administration as the Director of the Minority Business Development Agency.  He is currently a consultant with the school system in Washington, DC.  He joins us on the line from Washington.

Still from the film "Squeegee"

Today on Midday: a topic that has run hot and cold in the news for more than 30 years.  Squeegee Kids.  Tom's guest is Tisha Edwards, the executive director of Baltimore Mayor Jack Young’s new Office of Children and Family Success.  Tisha Edwards’ office released a “Squeegee Alternative Plan” intended to eradicate the practice of “squeegeeing.”  

Tisha Edwards served as Chief of Staff under Mayor Catherine Pugh at the beginning of the Pugh Administration, and in 2013, she served as the interim CEO of the Baltimore City Public School System.  

Our conversation was streamed live on the WYPR Facebook page.  

Courtesy of University of Maryland

The acclaimed poet Stanley Plumly passed away in April of this year, succumbing to cancer at the age of 79.  Mr. Plumly was a distinguished professor of English at the University of Maryland.  He was the author of 11 volumes of poetry; many of his poems were also published in the New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and in 40 anthologies. He was a finalist for the National Book Award, he was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and he won the prestigious Pushcart Prize for Poetry eight times.    

Today on Midday, a tribute to Maryland’s former Poet Laureate (2009-2018) from three other poets who are also acclaimed in their own right and published widely. Grace Cavalieri is Mr. Plumly's successor as the current Poet Laureate of Maryland. She has also been host for four decades of the  "The Poet and the Poem" radio series, distributed nationally on the Pacifica Radio Network, and now available as podcasts from the Library of Congress. Michael Collier also served as Maryland Poet Laureate from 2001-2004. He leads the Creative Writing program at the University of Maryland, College Park, and served as director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences from 1994 to 2017. Elizabeth Spires is the author of seven collections of poetry and six children’s books. She is a Professor of English at Goucher College where she holds the Chair for Distinguished Achievement.

The University of Maryland in College Park will host a memorial service for Stanley Plumly at Memorial Chapel, on Saturday, September 21, at 7:30pm.   Click here for details.

photo by Joan Marcus

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio today with another of her weekly reviews of the Maryland stage. Today, she spotlights playwright Heidi Schreck's What the Constitution Means to Me, a timely and provocative reflection on the personal impact of America's foundational document.  

Ms. Schreck, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee and three-time Obie Award winner, has brought the Broadway production to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. for a 15-performance run.  Oliver Butler directs the playwright in her starring role, along with original Broadway cast members Mike Iveson and New York City high school student Rosdely Ciprian.

What the Constitution Means to Me  continues at the Kennedy Center through Sunday, September 22.  

U.S. Government/Digital Globe via AP

Last Saturday's drone attack at one of the world's largest oil refineries in Saudi Arabia destroyed about 5% of the world’s oil supply.  The Trump Administration and a lot of independent reporting has indicated that Iran is behind the attack, although Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility.   

Senator Ben Cardin (D., MD) a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, joins Tom on the line from Capitol Hill to discuss the details of the attack, how it is fueling tensions in the Middle East, and how the U.S. ought to respond.

Courtesy of Baltimore Teachers Union

Today, a conversation with Diamonté Brown, the new president of the Baltimore Teachers Union.  She was first elected last spring in a close and contentious race to lead the 7,000-member union of teachers and school para-professionals.  Her victory, which was officially certified in July after an investigation by the American Federation of Teachers, ended the long tenure of Marietta English, who was seeking her seventh 3-year term as BTU president.

Ms. Brown ran at the top of a coalition called The Union We Deserve.  She has pledged to improve accountability, engagement among union members, and to promote social justice.

A former teacher at Booker T. Washington Middle School, Ms. Brown now leads a union of teachers and school para-professionals who are working with a shrinking population of students, in the context of a deep political divide among lawmakers over funding for schools throughout the state. She joins us in studio A to discuss the present state of the union, and the school system improvements its members are striving for.

This program was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page; you can watch the video here.

Towson University

Today, it's another episode of Midday on Higher Education, our occasional series of conversations with the presidents of colleges and universities in our region and across Maryland.

Tom’s guest for the hour is the president of Towson University, Dr. Kim Schatzel.

Towson University has seen a record increase in the number of minority students and first-generation college students in recent years. This month, for the first time, US News and World Report included Towson in its list of nationally ranked schools. We talk about this and more with Dr. Schatzel in Studio A. 

We livestreamed the conversation on WYPR's Facebook Page.  Due to technical difficulties, the video is available in two parts: Click the links to watch Part 1 & Part 2.

Photo Courtesy WYPR/ Emily Sullivan

On today's News Wrap: the president of the United States does a drive-by in Baltimore.  The president of the Baltimore City Council joins the race for mayor. And Democratic 2020 presidential wannabes vie for position at an HBCU in Houston. 

Tom and Charles Robinsonpolitics and business reporter with Maryland Public Television News, run down the latest political news. 

Their conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here, from 00:00 to 18:22 in the feed.

Phtoto Courtesy Bobby Marvin Holmes

Tom is joined i9n the studio by filmmakers  Bobby Marvin Holmes and Ras Tre Subira, the co-founders of Reflection of Kingsa new media program teaching young Baltimoreans how to harness the power of the media to tell their stories.  The endeavor is a joint partnership between Son of a Dream LLC, and Afrikan Youth Alchemy, an African-centered youth development organization.

This conversation was livestreamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can watch the video here, from 19:17 to 33:00 in the feed.