On the evening of November 15th, Bard LLI honored its producers and presenters plus guests, at a tribute reception at Blithewood mansion, the 19th century landmark on the Hudson that now houses the Levy Economics Institute. As Curriculum Chair Anne Sunners explained, “We’re here to honor the producers and presenters who make LLI so satisfying and so successful.”
Wine, hors d’oeuvres, and delicious dishes set the tone for warm friendships and making new friends in an atmosphere not unlike a continuous classical musical concert. Irene Esposito, who loves to work behind the scenes but often doesn’t want credit for her herculean efforts, headed up the team responsible for the quality of the event. Food, as always, was provided by LLI’s long-time partner, Chartwells. Wines were orchestrated by Paul McLaughlin, who teaches our wine classes. Compliments about the quality of food and drinks were often overheard in conversation, and authenticated by smiles on faces.
Veteran LLI producer Margaret Shuhala described the event from her perspective. “It’s a chance to sit down and relax with the presenter in a casual atmosphere. We chatted about what worked, what didn’t work, how can we make it better, what do you want to do next.”
Producer Emily Michael graciously posed for our camera on the elegant staircase of Blithewood. Formerly head of the Philosophy Department at Brooklyn College, Emily thoroughly enjoys the process of creating courses for LLI, and tracking down appropriate presenters. Several of her courses have necessitated recruiting a number of presenters.
Michael Simpler, presenter of seven LLI courses, shared his feelings with presenter Gary Miller. “It’s an incredible privilege to be invited as a presenter.” He then went on to point out, “And the producer facilitates the process and makes it happen. We couldn’t do it without them. It’s a great testimony to the quality of LLI and its members.”
Alan Lipper, presenter of numerous classes about voice and acting, said “I’m happy to be here, to be honored as a presenter. It’s a lovely feeling. I’m so proud of what I do in class and this celebration is a gratifying reflection of that experience.”
“It’s about connecting with producers in a much more casual way,” says Lauren Piperno, presenter of creative photography courses. “It also makes you think of the relationships with your colleagues and what makes it all work. The class is not aware that the producer had to organize not only my class, but others as well. The producer is what you might call the hidden magician.”
a collaborative process
Dorothy Baran, who has produced more classes than she cares to admit, summed it up by saying, “When members sit down for the first class, producers anxiously await the reaction they so hope for. By the seventh class, we all relax, smile, and applaud the results of this collaborative process. It’s what makes LLI great.”
it's a team
The party underscored the fact that, as the cliche goes, there’s no “I” in “TEAM.” The heart and soul of the courses belong to the presenter, naturally, who have brought a lifetime of experiences on which to build their presentations. The presenters and producers then sit down and work together to massage, edit, and fit into the schedule the courses we have grown to love and cherish.
hugs and laughter
Hugs, laughter, and discussions provided proof that LLI’s members, surrounded by 19th century architecture, were enjoying the 21st century good life on the Bard campus.