Monday, September 25, 2017

Petersham Unitarian Returns to the 1940s on Sunday, October 1st

 Petersham Unitarian Returns to the 1940s Sunday, October 1st

On Sunday, October 1st at 11:00 a.m., the “minister” and congregation at the First Congregational Parish, Unitarian Petersham will set the calendar back to the late 1940s as Mark Whiting Davis delivers a sermon entitled “The Thirst for a Living God.” The sermon was written and delivered by his grandfather, Reverend Earl Clement Davis, during his time as minister of the church between 1933 and 1953. The public is invited to wear items reminiscent of the time, if they wish.

Prior to the service, at 10:00 a.m., archival materials and memorabilia from the parish’s 280- year history will be on display in the Ladies Parlor, in back of the church sanctuary, including visitor and attendance logs and various birth, marriage and death notices and records of ministerial service dating back to the 1700s. The First Congregational Parish Unitarian, Petersham is located in the historic district’s Petersham Town Common.

Reverend Davis was born in Poland ME on June 3, 1876. He received his AB from Bowdoin College in 1897. He was the principal of Howe School in Billerica MA between 1897-1902. He then went to Harvard Divinity School where he received his STP (Sacrae Theologiae Baccalaureus or Bachelor of Sacred Theology) in 1904.

Earl was the Minister of Unitarian Universalists of Pittsfield MA between 1905-1919, of Unitarian Universalists of Lancaster PA between 1919 – 1924, of Unitarian Universalists of Concord NH between 1924 – 1933, and then came to the First Congregational Parish, Unitarian Petersham in 1933 where he served as Minister until his death on May 20, 1953.
Mark was born in 1948 (the 4th of 7 children), and came, with his family, to Sunday services in Petersham for the 1st 5 years of his life. He has very fond memories of his grandfather’s sermons, of getting together for Sunday meals with grandfather and grandmother, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and cousins. Thanksgiving was always an extra special occasion. Mark attended UMass Amherst, the University of Freiburg, Germany and the Maharishi University of Management in Iowa.

The 1938 “Services of Religion for use in the Churches of the Free Spirit” hymnal will be used for the day. Marc Erwin will be the organist. Following the service, refreshments will be served downstairs in the church dining room.

For further information, call (978) 544-1872 or visit the parish website at or Facebook page at…

PHOTO CAPTION: Rev. Earl Davis through the years.
PHOTO CREDIT: Submitted by Mark Davis.
PHOTO CAPTION: Mark Whiting Davis stands beside the plaque dedicated to his grandfather, Rev. Earl Davis who served the First Congregational Parish Unitarian Petersham from 1933 - 1953. The Davis Memorial Hall is dedicated to his memory.
PHOTO CREDIT: Genevieve Fraser

Monday, September 11, 2017

Classical Pianist Adam Bergeron at Village Lyceum Sunday, September 17 in Petersham MA

Classical Pianist Adam Bergeron at Village Lyceum Sunday, September 17 in Petersham MA

The Village Lyceum will present pianist Adam Bergeron in the fourth of his 5-Part Concert Series, "What’s in a Name?," with Three-Step Dances in the Petersham Unitarian sanctuary, One Common Street in Petersham.  The program showcases pieces considered to be three-step dances (such as minuets and waltzes), as an illustration of how this style of pieces have evolved and progressed since the early 1700's.  Composers on this program include Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Grieg, and Satie.

The Adam Bergeron five-part, classical piano performance series is funded through a generous grant by the Petersham Cultural Council. Refreshments will be served. The cost is $10 general admission, $5 seniors and students. Children 10 years old and younger are free of charge.  For further information, contact Genevieve Fraser at Tel.# (978) 544-1872 or email:

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Finnish Folk Duo, Vellamo Returns to the Village Lyceum in Petersham on Sunday, September 10

Finnish Folk Duo, Vellamo Returns to the Village Lyceum in Petersham on Sunday, September 10

The Finnish performance and songwriting team of Pia Leinonen and Joni Tiala, also known as Vellamo, will be at the Village Lyceum at the Unitarian Church, on the historic Petersham Town Common on Sunday,September 10 at 2:00 p.m.e, followed by a wine and cheese reception. The Lyceum engagement will be a stop on their European, New Zealand and American tour.

Vellamo’s music, which is characterized by haunting melodies, features Pia's ethereal lead vocals and Joni's virtuosic guitar stylings. Known for establishing a rapport with any audience, they perform original songs in English as well as their native Finnish as well as traditional ballads from the Finnish, Celtic and Scandinavian folk traditions. 
Pia and Joni take questions at the concert in 2015.

Joni Tiala, originally from the Finnish port of Kokkola, began playing guitar at the age of 11. He is now a master of several stringed instruments. His eclectic musical background includes writing and performing for theater, progressive and alternative rock and Finnish and western folk. In addition to his work in Vellamo, Joni is an accomplished theater and session musician, and is founding member of the renowned Finnish progressive rock band, Moonwagon.

Vellamo combines the rich tradition of Finnish folksong with an appealing “retro” sensibility (recalling the likes of Judy Collins or Richard and Mimi Fariña), creating an exotic and magical acoustic experience. Pia and Joni have even been known to sneak in a “Vellamo-ized” Jethro Tull song now and then just to shake things up! A visit to the world of Vellamo is an enchanting, educational and unforgettable musical journey.

Vellamo’s first album, which was recorded in Vermont, was released in 2014 and features 7 original songs, written in both Finnish and English, as well as traditional songs from the Finnish, Swedish and English folk song traditions. Vellamo's second album, Trad was recorded with a full band and released in 2014. A third album, “Koskenkylä” (Whitewater Village) was released in November 2015.
Pia enjoyed meeting members of the local Finnish community at the 2015 Village Lyceum.
However, you needn't be Finnish to enjoy this remarkable duo.

The Village Lyceum serves as a fundraiser to maintain historic preservation and energy upgrades for the six pillar Unitarian Church that is central to maintaining the beauty of the Petersham Common Historic District. Ticket price is on a sliding scale, $8 - $15, children 6 years and under are free of charge. For further information, contact Genevieve Fraser or telephone (978) 544-1872, or or Rini Kilcoyne at Tel. (508) 735- 1411.


Finnish performance and songwriting team, Pia Leinonen and Joni Tiala, also known as Vellamo, stand next to their touring van in 2015. They return to the sanctuary of the First Congregational Parish Unitarian, Petersham on Sunday, September 10 at 2:00 p.m.  For further information, contact Genevieve Fraser at or telephone(978) 544-1872, or or Rini Kilcoyne at Tel. (508) 735- 1411.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Classical Pianist Adam Bergeron at Village Lyceum Sunday, August 6 in Petersham MA

Adam Bergeron
Classical Pianist Adam Bergeron at Village Lyceum Sunday, August 6 in Petersham MA

The Village Lyceum will present pianist Adam Bergeron in the third of his 5-Part Concert Series with Two-Step Dances featuring composers: Beethoven, Schubert and Grieg at 3:00 p.m. in the Davis Memorial, 3 West Street, in back of Unitarian Church in Petersham. Adam Bergeron's 5-Part Concert Series is funded, in part, by a grant from the Petersham Cultural Council.  

All Lyceum proceeds will benefit the parish building fund and are used to maintain their historic buildings on the Town Common.  Refreshments will be available.  For further information, including Village Lyceum ticket prices, contact Genevieve Fraser at email: or call telephone 978.544.1872.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Village Lyceum presents John Sheldon July 29 in a performance inspired by Standing Rock

The Village Lyceum presents John Sheldon July 29 - in a performance inspired by Standing Rock –
“The Same Water, Music for a Deep Ecology”

John Sheldon and his famous red electric guitar – the one James Taylor sold him in the 1960s for $100 - return to the Village Lyceum on Saturday, July 29 at 7:00 pm to present “The Same Water, Music for a Deep Ecology.” The program, which will be held in the sanctuary of the First Congregational Parish, Unitarian on the Petersham Town Common, is inspired by Sheldon’s 5-day stay at Standing Rock Indian Reservation during a gathering of native tribes from across the nation to protest a proposed oil pipeline that threatens reservation water and ancient burial grounds.

Now, in his 51st year of writing songs and composing music, the former lead guitarist for Van Morrison and songwriter for James Taylor admits that in the past few years, the way in which he writes music, his music process itself has been changing. Today, his inspiration, his muse comes more directly from nature.

“Water, essential to all of life on earth, is the unifying element. I have put together a cycle of songs and improvisations to celebrate water in all its forms, including rivers, plants, animals, and of course, us,” Sheldon explained.

“A trip to North Dakota to help the effort at Standing Rock has made me realize how others on this planet have been listening to the spirits in nature for a long time. I dedicate this music to all of them, whether they be activists, gardeners, water protectors, or simply people who have at one time simply felt awe and wonder in the presence of the natural world,” he said. 

“Some of the spirits that appear in the music are: the wolf, the bee, the cricket, the redwood, the crust of the earth, and the light from the stars. So, prepare to take a journey through sound into the heart of nature itself,” Sheldon advised.

Sheldon has written hundreds of songs and instrumentals, and released 15 CDs of his own music. In the past few years, he has also been busy in theater, including composing music for and performing in "Milosevic at the Hague", "Ambush on T Street", "What She Knows", "Blind Dreamers”, "Skyscraper" and his own musical monologue, “The Red Guitar," which traces his musical journey and recalls the tumultuous era when it began. Last year, Sheldon performed "The Red Guitar" during a two-week run at the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

Tickets for “The Same Water, Music for a Deep Ecology” are on a sliding scale from $8 to $15, children 10 and under are free of charge. All proceeds for the Village Lyceum are used to maintain the First Congregational Parish Unitarian Petersham Church and the Davis Memorial Center.  For further information, please contact Genevieve at (978) 544-1872.

John Sheldon will perform “The Same Water, Music for a Deep Ecology” at the Village Lyceum on Saturday, July 29 in the sanctuary at the Unitarian Church in Petersham, starting at 7:00 p.m. The program is inspired by Sheldon’s stay at Standing Rock Indian Reservation during the 2016 protest of a proposed oil pipeline. Ticket prices are on a sliding scale from $8 - $15, children 10 and under are free of charge. Proceeds are used for the parish building and maintenance fund. For further information, contact Genevieve Fraser at (978) 544-1872 or email:

Monday, July 3, 2017

INTRODUCING The Drama Circle @ The Village Lyceum in Petersham (MA)

INTRODUCING The Drama Circle @ The Village Lyceum in Petersham (MA)

The Drama Circle, which was started in the 1990s at Mount Wachusett Community College, has a new home at The Village Lyceum in Petersham. We invite writers to submit their scripts for possible readings and will occasionally have readings of classical works, Shakespeare and more modern authors such as Horton Foote. One play we hope to "read" and possible produce is The Traveling Lady which in many ways can also be filed under the Petersham Unitarian's dedication to social justice issues.

"Foote’s play tells the story of dreamy Georgette Thomas, who has traveled with her daughter to meet her husband, Henry, an alcoholic who has served time in jail but who’s currently newly employed and on the wagon. It all takes place on a porch where various townspeople come and go and comment on the troubles of this young couple."…/horton-footes-maligned-cham…/

Genevieve Fraser​
Artistic Director, The Drama Circle
For further information: (978) 544-1872

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

“Digging Deep to Find Your Voice” Writing Class offered at New Salem Academy Summer Arts Intensive 2017

Genevieve Fraser

“Digging Deep to Find Your Voice” Writing Class offered at New Salem Academy Summer Arts Intensive 2017

Creative writing course offered by Genevieve Fraser


When I was a freshman at UNH, my English professor gave a talk on the Great American Novel literary genre.  I determined to someday write such a novel, but first I had to find a story with a theme worthy of the subject.  Though I dropped out of college before graduating, through the years I toyed at writing with stream of consciousness poetry and fits and starts of short stories and plays. Later, with child in tow, I returned to UNH and got serious. I graduated with degrees in Communications and Theater and a minor in English, which was followed by an MFA in Theater/Writing at Brandeis. 

Since then, I’ve used my writing background as an exhibits developer, journalist, environmental technical writer, in public relations, as an aide to a state senator, a planner for the Private Industry Council and community college, and as a commissioned playwright.  Finally, while working as an aide to the senator on a veteran’s project, I happened upon a subject worthy of the designation - a Great American Novel - and spent 10 years researching, interviewing and writing the story.  The result was a creative, non-fiction novel, “In the Claw of the Tiger,” a true story based on the life of a World War II survivor of the Bataan Death March and POW camps in the Philippines and Japan. 

Course Description

The three-day, creative writing course, “Digging Deep to Find Your Voice,” will encourage participants to explore creative writing for two hours per day through journaling, observation techniques, theatrical role playing, poetry, narrative essay development and story-telling.  The exercises are meant to enhance each author’s observation of an environment, whether it’s a room full of people, sidewalk, café, beach or any other place they find themselves.  Immediacy as well as memory will be explored. Each of the five senses will be engaged in terms of the potency of observation and how this might become transposed onto the written page.
The course is meant to be a 24-hour a day journey, where even dreams play a role in creating a narrative. But along with developing an awareness of self, personal attitudes and reactions, authors are expected to spend non-class time observing others and sharing what they observed verbally and in brief role play. The awareness of their inner and outer life should help participants explore character and narration as well as a sense of place and time. But for plot, the class may draw from personal history or observation of comings and goings or from historic characters and events.

In-class writing will consist of stream of consciousness writing where brief exercises will encourage unedited rapid writing.  One of the purposes of stream of consciousness writing is to break down barriers we often build that block creativity.  Even apparent nonsense, at times, can reflect hidden truths. Poetry will also be used to explore word juxtaposition and meaning rarely used in everyday language.  Physical objects, art and photos as well as subjects such as fear, shopping and jewelry might be used as writing prompts. Along with shared prompts, a basket filled with written prompts where authors can grab a prompt at random will be on hand.  By mid-week, the class will focus on an original story, play or poem to complete by the end of the week.Course MaterialsNotebook, pen and pencis and/or laptopLocationNew Salem AcademyLecture“Digging Deep to Find Your Voice”Exploring the world around you, as well as yourself, to create art.

The course will run on Monday - Wednesday, July 17-19 from 9:00 - 11:30 am. For further information on available courses, check out

Courses are still open. Call today to reserve your space. Electronic Registration can be paid online via PayPal, or by phone with credit card. Please submit the electronic form to Amy Fagin: or mobile 978-799-5332. Mail in registration to: Amy Fagin 236 Neilson Rd. New Salem, MA, 01355. Contact us for information on scholarships. Please make checks payable to Friends of Historic New Salem Look for us on Facebook at New Salem Arts Intensive.