You’re never too old…

Ellen Futterman, Editor

You’re never too old…

In making good on her promise to create the first area-wide arts festival dedicated to the St. Louis region’s older adult population, Lynn Friedman Hamilton has gone above and beyond. The result is Celebrating Art for Senior Engagement, which will take place at more than 60 area venues and feature 80-plus events, April 28 to May 7. 

“There is just so much out there for seniors in our community,” says Hamilton. Her nonprofit organization, Maturity and its Muse, which is dedicated to improving the life of seniors through the arts, is spearheading the festival. 

“It was really wonderful the number of organizations that wanted to be a part of this festival,” Hamilton says. “They would say to me, ‘We want people you know to come to our places and enjoy what we do.’ I was really thrilled by the resounding support.”

While the events are far too numerous to mention all, highlights include:

• A lecture at Washington University to explore the benefits of participation in the arts for improving health and well-being among older adults with keynote speaker Linda Noelker. She will be joined by a panel of professionals who connect older adults with various visual and performing arts in the St. Louis Metro Region.

• A performance at the City Museum by Elizabeth ‘Bunny’ Herring, octogenarian aerialist, to showcase her aerial and magic acts. 

• Fifteen banjo players strummin’ away playing the old, familiar Tin Pan Alley songs from the early 1900s while the audience sings along.

• Creating accessible gardens using repurposed materials, including the best plants to grow and how to keep them thriving, at Laumeier Sculpture Park.

• Watching Music Director David Robertson rehearse the St. Louis Symphony at Powell Hall as it prepares for weekend performances. 

• “Exploring Dance through Poetry” with live and recorded music, and live poetry readings at Crown Center. 

• The St. Louis Storytelling Festival at the Jewish Community Center.

• A dessert reception at Temple Israel, followed by a concert from TI’s choir, Chavurat Shira, featuring a wide selection of music, including musical theater, opera, liturgy and more. 

More than 95 percent of the festival events are free; some have a nominal charge while others may require pre-registration. And the events aren’t just for seniors – Hamilton points out that many were designed to appeal to people of all ages, including children.

She explains the goal of the festival is two-fold: to harness the power of the arts to energize and transform the quality of life for the region’s older adults and to attract and help build audiences for the venues involved. Her biggest concern at this point is making sure seniors can secure transportation to the events. 

“Hopefully, enough of the events are multigenerational so that families can go together,” she says. St. Louis NORC, which provides support services to senior adults living in their own homes, is hosting the storytelling event at the JCC, and Rabbi Amy Feder is offering free transportation for those in need to the event at Temple Israel.

Hamilton has been working on this festival since July 2014, talking with organizations and encouraging them to participate. Given the number that are, apparently her encouragement was successful.

“I love people and I love having people have a great time,” says Hamilton, explaining why creating this festival was so important. “I like people to share things and get inspired. You’re never too old to try something new. 

“Just because something may keep someone from singing or dancing on the outside, it’s still possible to have a song in one’s heart and dance on the inside. It’s really all about that feeling of a good, happy quality of life and having fun.”

For a full list of Celebrating Art for Senior Engagement events, with dates, times and details, go to

Opera for dummies, who like to eat

If like me, you don’t know much (or anything) when it comes to opera, here’s a way to make learning about it much more palatable. From Thursday, March 31 through Monday, April 4, Opera Theatre of St. Louis is featuring a series of 70-minute “culinary concerts” for opera newcomers to learn about the art form.

At each venue, live music from across the history of opera will be performed, with each musical selection paired with wine, beer, spirits, small bites or desserts. Four acclaimed young singers who started their careers at Opera Theatre — Katherine Jolly, Stephanie Sanchez, Geoffrey Agpalo, and Robert Mellon — will perform arias, duets and trios at each venue, ranging from Mozart and Puccini to Wagner. In addition to five evening musical tastings, the series offers an alcohol-free Saturday matinee event with family-friendly food and beverages. The six events are as follows:

• Thursday, March 31, 7 p.m. at The Dark Room, 615 N. Grand Blvd. in Grand Center.

Menu highlights: Wine and savory bites. 

• Friday, April 1, 7 p.m. at Moulin,

2017 Chouteau Ave. in Lafayette Square. Menu highlights: Wines, beer and small plates. 

• Saturday, April 2, 1 p.m. at The Alpha Beta Club

, 2624 North 14th St.

Menu highlights: Chocolates from Kakao Chocolates and family-friendly drinks from Larder and Cupboard, plus print making opportunities for all ages from Central Print and the Firecracker Press. 

• Saturday, April 2, 7 p.m. at Balaban’s, 1772 Clarkson Road in Chesterfield.

Menu highlights: Wine and continental dining. 

• Sunday, April 3, 7 p.m. at Fleur de Lilies

, 1031 Lynch St. in Soulard.

Menu highlights: Cocktails and Creole-Asian fusion. 

• Monday, April 4, 7 p.m. at SqWires Annex, 1415 South 18th St. in Lafayette Square. Menu highlights: Locally sourced cuisine.

Tickets to each culinary concert are $20 for adults, $10 for those 18 and under. All attendees will receive a credit toward the purchase of tickets to any opera during the 2016. OTSL’s season, which runs May 21 to June 26. Season events include four main stage productions — Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Verdi’s “Macbeth,” Strauss’ “Ariadne on Naxos” and the world premiere of Jack Pela and Rajiv Joseph’s “Shalimar the Clown,” adapted from the novel by Salman Rushdie. 

To purchase tickets to the opera tastings, visit or call 314-961-0644. 

Speak now

Former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, will open the 2016-2017 St. Louis Speakers Series, presented by Maryville University, on Oct. 18. 

Barak was Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001. He entered politics following a 35-year career as a highly decorated officer in the Israel Defense Forces. He served as leader of the Labor Party until 2011, including posts as Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government from 2009 to 2013.

Longtime “Nightline” anchor and broadcast journalist Ted Koppel, who was born to German-Jewish  refugees, will speak March 28, 2017. Other speakers include Academy-award winning actress Rita Moreno (Nov. 22); Monty Python co-founder John Cleese (Jan. 24, 2017); former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey (Feb. 28, 2017); and Presidential historian Jon Meacham (April 18, 2017).

The St. Louis Speakers Series is sold by series subscription only. Prices range from $295 to $435. (Prices are for tickets to all seven lectures.) For tickets and a complete list of speakers, go to or call 314-534-1700. 

Superheroes’ Jewish roots

My colleague and Light Editor Emeritus Bob Cohn is a comic book junkie. So I’m passing on this tidbit from him regarding the new movie, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”: The co-creators of both characters were Jewish.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two Jewish teens from Cleveland, created Superman. Less well known is the fact that Batman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, who was born Bob Kahn.

So there you have it. If you’d like to read more about this, check out Bob’s 2013 article, “Superman at 75: Reflections on comic book hero’s Jewish roots,” online at