Beacon Hill - West End neighborhood notes

Staff Writer
Link Boston Homes

Organ performance

The Old West Organ Society will perform “Hell and Reason” at the Old West Church, 131 Cambridge St., from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 21.

Biographer Laura Sewell Matter and organist Christa Rakich will present a program on Charles Fisk, the renowned builder of pipe organs. He also worked as a technician on the Manhattan Project, unknowingly helping to create the first nuclear weapons. Matter will read an essay that examines his early work building bombs and his transition to organ building. Rakich will play works by J.S. Bach and Nicolas de Grigny on Fisk Op. 55, one of the builder’s favorite instruments.

A freewill donation would be welcome. Visit for more information.

Walking tour of Jewish Boston

The Downtown Social Club and Boston By Foot will offer a walking tour of Jewish Boston from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 21, meeting at the Vilna Shul, 18 Phillips St.

Drinks and appetizers outside on the Vilna’s front plaza will follow this fascinating tour of the Jewish West End.

Tickets are $30.

Visit or call 617-523-2324 to purchase tickets and for more information.

Science for kids

Dr. Can-Do Science will be the guest of the West End Branch Library, 151 Cambridge St., from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Monday, May 22.

Dr. Can-Do Science will help kids see what lives in dirt as they dissect different types of soil. Children can bring Ziploc bags of dirt or use the library’s soil. Tools to aid in their dissections will be provided. The workshop is ideal for children of all ages. Groups and individuals are welcome.

E-mail to pre-register or call 617-523-3957.

Lunchtime concert

A lunchtime concert will be held at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23 at King’s Chapel, corner of School and Tremont streets.

Organist Ondrej Hornas will play selections by Bach, Buxtehude, Cernohorsky and Kuchar.

A donation of $3 is requested; all contributions are given directly to the musicians. Visit or call 617-227-2155 for more information.

Honoring service members

Each year, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund plants a Garden of Flags in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Boston Common to commemorate each of the 37,000 Massachusetts service members who gave his or her life to defend the United States and freedom since the Revolutionary War.

Flags will be put in place at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24, and remain through sundown on Monday, May 29.

The community is also invited to a ceremony to honor Massachusetts fallen service members of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle being held in front of the flag display on the Common at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 25.

Visit for more details.

Bach’s organ works

The Old West Organ Society will present a free organ recital at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24 at the Old West Church, 131 Cambridge St.

Sam Nelson of Boston University will perform Bach’s “Sonata in G Major” and Franck’s “Choral in A minor.”

A freewill donation is requested. For more details, call 617-739-1340 or visit

Local author to visit

Author Joanna Weiss will be the guest speaker from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24 at the Nichols House Museum, 55 Mount Vernon St.

Weiss’s debut novel is the social satire “Milkshake,” the story of new mother Lauren who tries to feed her baby in an art museum and inadvertently becomes the poster child for the nursing wars when a local politician enlists her to help win the women’s vote.

A book signing will follow the free program, and books will be available for purchase. Light refreshments will be served.

Admission is $10 for members and $15 for non-members.

Call 617-227-6993 or visit for more information and to register.

New opera

The Boston Athenaeum, 10 ½ Beacon St., will present “Multiple Choice: Exploring Religious Plurality Through Rev. 23, a New Opera” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24.

The new opera “Rev. 23” is an imagining of the hypothetical 23rd chapter of the Book of Revelation by librettist Cerise Lim Jacobs and composer Julian Wachner set to premiere in Boston in September. Panelists including Buddhists, humanists and Muslim chaplains will respond to arias from this new opera to spark conversation on the theme of tension between light and dark and the human experience. Arias from “Rev. 23” will be performed.

Admission is $20 for members and $30 for non-members.

Call 617-720-7600 or visit for further details.

Neo-classical ceramics

The China Students’ Club of Boston, America’s oldest ceramics study group, will host a free lecture and tea at 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 25 at the King’s Chapel Parish House, 64 Beacon St.

Amanda Lange, department director and curator of historic interiors at Historic Deerfield, will explore “From Pompeii to Your Parlor: Neo-Classical Ceramics for the American Home.”

For more information, visit

Movie musicals

The West End Branch Library, 151 Cambridge St., is screening movie musicals from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, May 24 and 31.

The library will screen Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” starring Meryl Streep on May 24 and “Billy Elliot” with Jamie Bell the following week.

Call 617-523-3957 for more information.

Swan boats

The famous swan boats have returned to the Public Gardens. Spring hours of operation (now to June 20) are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week, weather permitting.

Established in 1877, the swan boats are a family-owned and -operated business with a unique tradition and place in the history and beauty of the city. A ride on a swan boat lasts about 15 minutes and provides a picturesque voyage on the waters of the lagoon.

Tickets are $3 or $2 for seniors and $1.50 for children. For more information, call 617-522-1966 or visit

Contemporary art in Boston

A new exhibition that sheds light on contemporary art in Boston is on display at the Boston Athenaeum, 10½ Beacon St., now to Sept. 3.

This exciting exhibition will showcase contemporary prints, drawings, and photographs by New England artists. The works on display, drawings, watercolors, linocuts, lithographs, hand-toned silver gelatin prints, digital photographs, and more, reflect artistic interpretations of New England’s built and natural environment.

Further information can be found at or by calling 617-227-0270.

Photographs of the West End

The West End Museum, 150 Staniford St., is displaying a new exhibition “Under the Wrecking Ball: A West End Landlord” now to Aug. 31.

The exhibit features photographs from a collection donated by Ira Tarlin that depicts the West End at the time of demolition. Eli Tarlin, Ira’s father, was an original resident who came to own numerous properties in the neighborhood. The demise of the community, says the family, was also Eli’s demise.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Call 617-416-0781 or go online to

Picturing Douglas

The Museum of African American History is presenting a new public exhibition “Picturing Frederick Douglass” at the African Meeting House, 46 Joy St., now through July 31.

Douglass was the most photographed American of the 19th century, more frequently photographed than Abraham Lincoln, and was immediately recognizable to millions in his own lifetime. Douglass used photography as a tool of reform and to elevate the image of the African-American in contradiction to the demeaning depictions of black life often seen in the 19th century.

Based on the book of the same name by Drs. John Stauffer and Zoe Trodd, co-curators of the exhibit, it features more than 90 objects, including historic photos, books, newspapers articles and original letters by Douglass.

Further information can be found by calling 617-725-0022, ext. 222 or online at