Back Bay - Midtown neighborhood notes

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This statue in front of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square personifies science.

A virtual culinary tour through the Francophone world

During Le mois de la Francophonie, the French Cultural Center will welcome Emmanuelle Jary for a delicious conversation based on the most famous dishes from different French-speaking regions and countries.

In 2016, Jary started a series of short videos where she shares her favorite restaurants across the world: C’est meilleur quand c’est bon. During the pandemic she stopped her interviews and started to cook her favorite recipes.

A food and travel addict, Jary will share plenty of anecdotes and give precious cooking tips from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 13.

This virtual culinary travel, presented in French, will be followed by a live Q&A, so come ready with your questions.

Visit https://frenchculturalcenter.org for more information and registration (Member $7 | Non-member $12).

Saturday Salon: International influence on Boston architecture                        

Historical context and reference are a very important aspect in understanding architecture.

Presented by Boston by Foot guide Rob Anderson, this three-part series, slated from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on select Saturdays will focus on past international influences on Boston architecture, through visual comparisons and connections as follows:

March 13: Quincy Market

April 10: Boston Public Library

May 15: Boston City Hall

Visit https://bostonbyfoot.org/saturday-salon-international-influence-boston-architecture for more information and registration (Eventbrite - $0-$8).

Barre en français                                                                 

Exercise your body and your vocabulary at the French Cultural Center.                 

French instructor Chloé Mizuta will guide participants in a barre class that focuses on strength, core stability, flexibility, muscle control, posture and breathing from 9 to 10 a.m. on Monday, March 15 and March 29 and from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20 via Zoom.

All levels of French and barre are welcome.

Visit frenchculturalcenter.org for more information and reservations (Member - $8; Non-member - $12).

Women and wealth

True wealth is about more than just money. It's about quality of life, relationships, living your values, exploring interests - doing what you treasure most and what brings joy.

This seminar explores strategies for identifying and incorporating these vital elements into an overall wealth plan that helps support personal vision throughout your life and into retirement. Bring lunch and join Bradley Baskir, a financial planner with Morgan Stanley for this insightful program from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, March 15.

Go to bpl.org/events for more information and Zoom registration.

Hemingway - the Author                                        

Join GBH and the Kennedy Library for a preview and discussion of Hemingway, the new documentary series directed by award-winning filmmakers Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.

Writers Abraham Verghese and Tobias Wolff will join Burns and Novick in a conversation moderated by Kennedy Library Director Alan Price about Ernest Hemingway’s life, craft and legacy as one of America’s greatest writers from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday March 16.

The event will feature clips from the three-part, six-hour series premiering on GBH 2 on Monday, April 5.

Visit https://www.wgbh.org/events/hemingway-the-author-and-the-man-virtual for more information and Zoom registration.

‘The Wonderful World of Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles’

A virtual presentation, “The Wonderful World of Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles,” will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16, hosted by the NABB.

Conrad Armstrong, a Back Bay resident and wooden puzzle aficionado, will give a presentation on the history of wooden jigsaw puzzles and Boston’s important role in that history. He will discuss how these special puzzles are made and special techniques that are particular to hand-cut wooden puzzles.

During the presentation, Armstrong will display many examples of these special puzzles. 

There is no charge for this event, but you must register by the cutoff date of Monday, March 15. To attend, RSVP to specialevents@nabbonline.org. 

Zoom Story Time: Women's History Month                    

Join librarian Maija from 9:30 to 10 a.m. on Thursdays in March for Women’s History Month stories about amazing women from around the world. Geared towards children ages 2 to 5.

Visit bpl.org/events for more information and Zoom registration.

Researching urban ancestors in the 19th and 20th centuries

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, American cities seemingly sprang up overnight as new industries, new immigrant populations, and new opportunities blossomed. Finding your ancestor in a growing metropolis can be tricky. Luckily there are several resources, records, and research strategies available to assist you in your search.

Researcher Danielle Cournoyer will discuss some of these key sources and techniques for researching your urban ancestry from 3 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 18.

Visit https://www.americanancestors.org for more information and registration.

Records of trial from Thomas Shepard's church

The most exciting find in the records of puritan minister Thomas Shepard (Cambridge, 1638-1649) are the voices of the women who came to tell him their stories of spiritual seeking. Serving women, elderly widows, young wives and mothers, daughters of powerful men - all told stories of heroic seeking that feature their independent labor in reading, praying, listening, asking questions and making meaning in a world narrowed down to just the seeker and her God.

Heroic Souls, by Lori Rogers-Stokes, brings these women’s stories - their lives and passions, and the super-charged energy for change, discovery and meaning that they embrace – at an online discussion from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 18.

Visit https://masshist.org for more information and registration.

Camerata's online spring series

As the days lengthen and hope augments, Camerata will offer a mini-series of online programs with good talk and wonderful music to help get across this next stretch as follows:

To the Distant Beloved will stream at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 19 through Sunday, March 21.

How music and poetry, across the centuries, expresses feelings of separation and reunion.

Words and music from Artistic Director Anne Azéma. The Boston Camerata’s offering for International Early Music Day.

Bridges to Spring: Sacred Music of the Three Abrahamic Religions will stream at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 26 through April 15.

Music of renewal and hope from Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions as the planet emerges from trying months. A performance plus a conversation with Anne Azéma and Joel Cohen.

Songs to the Lute will stream at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 15 through May 31.

A summit meeting in Renaissance and early Baroque song as Anne Azéma (voice) and Nigel North (lutes) explore intimate and sensual French repertoires.

Visit https://bostoncamerata.org for more information and registration (price per event varies).

The X-tet: A concert documentary film                                                    

A concert documentary film introducing the X-tet, Boston Baroque’s new period string chamber ensemble, filmed and produced by Emmy-nominated filmmaker Nathaniel Hansen will premiere at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 19 with an encore presentation at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 20.

The virtual special will provide viewers with a look behind the scenes of a week-long residency, giving an up-close view of the group’s artistic process in preparing the inaugural performance of the X-tet, and featuring exclusive interviews with the musicians about their time working and growing together as an ensemble.

Go to https://baroque.boston for more information and tickets ($10).

‘Small Bear, Large Telescope’                                                        

The Juventes New Music Ensemble will present Small Bear, Large Telescope at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 20. The music is inspired by the cosmos. The concert will be live streamed on YouTube – no registration necessary.

A complimentary pre-concert "Composer Conversation," moderated by Professor Karen Ruymann of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee will be held at 7 p.m. via Zoom – registration required.

Visit https://www.juventasmusic.org/small-bear-large-telescope.html for the links.

Family Book Group: ‘The Vast Wonder of the World’                                                   

The librarian-moderated Family Book Group will meet from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 21 to discuss the March Community Read – The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just by Melina Mangal. 

Go to bpl.org/events for more information and Zoom registration.

Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them Book Group

The Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them Book Group at the Central Library in Copley Square, geared toward young adults in their 20s and 30s, will meet on line from 6 to 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month.

The March 23 read will be Afterlife by Julia Alvarez.

Visit bpl.org/events for more information and registration.

BB@YOURHOME 2020-2021 Season Series

Enjoy a night at the ballet with BB@YOURHOME, a new virtual series featuring fresh creations, signature works and classical ballet gems captured live in-studio and streamed as follows:

March 25-April 4: The Art of Classical Ballet 

Open a treasure chest of pas de deux from classical ballet including a rarely-performed gems. Experience a curated look at the foundations of the artform and the leaps ballet has made since then.

April 15-April 25: Process & Progress

Enjoy innovative, never-before-seen dance by new, international choreographic voices Nanine Linning and Ken Ossola, plus a preview of ChoreograpHER.

Go to bostonballet.org/Home/Tickets-Performances/Performances/BB-at-your-home for more information and tickets. With each subscription ($180/series), you support their dancers, fuel new art-making, and invest in Boston Ballet's future. 

GBH Beyond the Page Book Club                                                                         

These days, everyone could use a little joy and a heartfelt story. Join the GBH Beyond the Page Book Club in reading The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali. Then join the group from 7 to 8 p.m. on Monday, March 29 for a live discussion with author Marjan Kamali, where people can ask questions about the book, her journey and more.

Join GBH Facebook group for reading goals to help keep on track and for additional discussion.

Visit www.wgbh.org/events/the-stationery-shop for more information and registration.

‘Unstill Life’ exhibition

The exhibition, Unstill Life by Samuel Bak will be on view at the Pucker Gallery, 240 Newbury St. through Sunday, April 18.

A survivor of the Holocaust, Bak’s paintings are kaleidoscopic in its daring, with surprising pairings of objects, landscapes, and architectural features; ambiguous, intriguing, and full of contradictions, a soul-searing canvas filled with embers of memories smoldering under the weight of history.

Visit www.puckergallery.com to view the Exhibition Catalogue and for a list of virtual gatherings and events accompanying Unstill Life.

Gallery hours: Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. | Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday Mettā                      

Join Rev. Kim at the Arlington Street Church at noon on Mondays for a half hour of loving kindness meditation. She will give brief instructions, and the group will join in sending loving kindness to ourselves and to the world. No meditation experience necessary.

Join with video at https://zoom.us/j/8958866876 or participate by phone by dialing 929-436-2866. For either option, the meeting ID is always 895 886 6876.

Gay Men's Coffee Connections

Gay Men's Coffee Connections will meet at 5 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month.

Feel free to listen or engage in discussion about experiences as gay men.

Visit ascboston.org for more information, including the week’s discussion prompt and the Zoom link.

ESL Singing Group                                                                                     

Do you love music or enjoy singing? Do you want to learn English and sing with new friends? The E.S.L. Singing Group meets from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. on (most) Tuesdays through May 4.

Associate Conductor Katherine Chan from the Back Bay Chorale will teach basic singing skills and songs in English.

At the end of each class, participants will have the opportunity to practice English conversation skills and develop friendships. No singing experience required.

Go to bbcboston.org/bridges/esl or bpl.org/events for more information and Zoom registration.

BPL’s New Parent Group                                                                           

The Boston Public Library’s New Parent group will meet from 1 to 2 p.m. on (most) Tuesdays for an informal – and informative – program for families with infants, birth to 12 months.

It’s a great way to meet other new parents and learn from guest speakers.

Visit bpl.org/events for more information, including a weekly speaker/topic and Zoom registration.

The Buddhist book discussions and meditations

Buddha's Belly and Arlington Street Meditation Center (feel free to come to one or both) will meet via Zoom on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

6 p.m. Buddha's Belly: a book discussion group that explores a variety of books from Buddhist teachings. All are welcome.

7 p.m. Arlington Street Meditation Center: these gatherings include seated meditation, a brief reading from Buddhist teachings, and conversation. Beginners and experienced meditators from all traditions (or none!) are warmly welcome.

Visit www.ascboston.org for more information and links to attend.

Kundalini yoga class

Experience fun exercises and poses, breathing techniques, chanting, meditation, and deep relaxation in this unique class at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Moving energy through your body brings positive change and growth. All welcome.

Visit www.ascboston.org for more information and Zoom registration ($10).

A safe space for people of all colors

If you identify as a person of color, Old South Church invites you to a time of connecting, a moment of breath, a reprieve from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. The group is open to people of all ages.

Visit www.oldsouth.org for more information and Zoom registration.

Tween Time                                                  

Tweens, ages 8-12, are invited to join librarians for games and activities from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on Thursdays over Zoom. There will be something different every week. It’s a great way to hang out with kids your age.

Visit bpl.org/events for more information and Zoom registration.

Emmanuel Music: Lindsey Chapel Series

Streamed live at noon on Thursdays through March 25 from Lindsey Chapel at Emmanuel Church, this 2021 series offers Bach’s six English Suites on harpsichord with soloists and friends of the Emmanuel Music ensemble. 

Each program in the series can be viewed (for a limited time) on Emmanuel Music’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/EmmanuelMusicBoston. 

Visit www.emmanuelmusic.org for more information, including the weekly program.

Virtual Jazz Coffee House                                                             

The Virtual Jazz Coffee House, featuring the Willie Sordillo Ensemble, will be livestreamed from the Old South Church in Boston from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays at livestream.com/oldsouth.

The Bach Cantata Series                 

The Orchestra and Chorus of Emmanuel Music, conducted by Artistic Director Ryan Turner, will present the 2020-2021 Bach Cantata Series through May 9.

As they were originally written for worship services, these cantatas are presented at the culmination of the 10 a.m. Sunday liturgy at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St.

Those aiming to hear just the cantatas are welcome to join at approximately 11 a.m., but both organizations encourage all to join at any time during the service with the motto that “the longer you are here, the more you will hear.”

The services are open to all with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.

The service including the Bach Cantata will also be streamed live on Emmanuel Music's and Emmanuel Church's Facebook pages.

For more information, visit www.emmanuelboston.org and/or www.emmanuelmusic.org.

LGBTQ Catholics Unite monthly meetings                                              

LGBTQ Catholics Unite meetings are held virtually at 1 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of the month. The meetings provide an opportunity for LGBTQ Catholics and friends to gather and openly discuss relevant topics, scripture, and current events and share faith experiences, thoughts, beliefs and feelings.

Hosted by the St. Cecilia Rainbow Ministry, they hope that all LGBTQ+ Catholics will know that “God loves you, God created you, God is on your side, Jesus cares about you, and the church is your home.” All, including allies, are welcome.

For more info on how to connect via Zoom, email stceciliarainbowministry@gmail.com.

Members Show: New Beginnings

The Members Show: New Beginnings will be on view at the Copley Society of Art, 158 Newbury St. through Sunday, April 25.

In this thematic juried show, these artist members reflect on various new beginnings - from the annual transition from winter to spring, to new ways in which the global pandemic has altered how we approach and live our lives.

Temporary Gallery hours:  Tuesdays – Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.; Mondays by appointment.

Visit https://copleysociety.org/events/members-show-new-beginnings for more information.

Lyric Stage To-Go ‘The Walking Plays’                                                                           

The Walking Plays is a new free audio play series of six short plays by Boston-based playwrights which unfold on a continuous route around the Back Bay, Downtown and Theatre District neighborhoods.

The Walking Plays explore the private moments that we experience in public. Rediscover Boston through new eyes as you walk alongside intricate characters or experience these intimate stories in the comfort of your home.

The first two plays - On Paying Attention by David Valdes and Monster in the Sky - by Ginger Lazarus are now available with four more being released in the spring.

Visit www.lyricstage.com/to-go/walking-plays for more information and access to the plays.

The Bach Institute 2021 ‘Celebrating the Past; Engaging the Future’

The Bach Institute 2021 Celebrating the Past; Engaging the Future includes informative lectures, alumni interviews, cantata presentations and the alumni showcase concert.

View all of The Bach Institute events at The Bach Institute playlist on the Emmanuel Music YouTube channel anytime at

www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvW2Tj1BpOxIgOhG40O680mouCDFa9252.

Ghost Light Series

All previously recorded episodes of the Ghost Light Series, a live half-hour music program filmed to an empty Wang Theatre illuminated only by the Ghost Light, are available to enjoy, including the latest performance (Jan. 22) featuring Jay Psaros, Alice Howe and The Restless Age.

Visit bochcenter.org for more information.

BB Mom’s Group

The Mom’s Group is being revived for Moms in the Back Bay to meet and connect. Their goal is to offer support and be a resource for local Moms. When possible, outdoor events will be planned. 

For more information on joining, send an email to: info@nabbonline.org.

BPL Reading Challenge                                                      

As the pandemic drags on and Boston residents remain cooped up in their homes, the Boston Public Library invites readers throughout the city to participate in “Reading Together.”

In the challenge, each month has a distinct theme and participants are asked to read a book tied to the theme.

The library offers recommended book lists for the monthly themes for adults, teens and children at bpl.org/yearlong. Participant patrons can track their progress as well.

Visit bpl.org for more information.

BSRA                                                                                                                                                

The Boston Street Railway Association, Inc. (BSRA) will meet at 7:30 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month for a short business meeting followed by an entertainment program. Everyone is welcome to attend this online gathering.

April 3 - New York, Poland and Ukraine                                          

Eric Oszustowicz will present the scenes images of the New York City Subway system from 2015 to 2020. Recent images of the LIRR, Metro North and New Jersey Transit are also on the agenda in addition to a quick look at the newest NYCT buses. Then he will present photos of various tram and metro systems throughout Ukraine and Poland during 2017 and 2018. Commuter and intercity rail will also be included.

Check out the BSRA online store for a great selection of 2021 traction, transit and railroad calendars; books and magazines; DVDs; home décor and accessories; vintage items and more.

Rollsign, a bi-monthly publication on New England transit news and history, is also available.

Visit www.thebsra.org for more information and Zoom registration.

Future Readers Book Club and events

The Boston Public Library hosts the Future Readers Club for children, ages five years and younger, and their caregivers, with a goal of reading 1,000 books together before the child begins kindergarten.

Register at bpl.org to keep track of the books you read together and earn badges for your young milestones at bostonpl.beanstack.org.

In addition, the BPL offers an assortment of programs as part of the Future Readers Club to engage children in stories, songs, finger play and crafts.

Visit bpl.org/events for more information and registration to each event.

Genealogy for the next generation                                                 

Several free, easy-to-do fun activities that will keep kids entertained and get them thinking about their family history are available at www.americanancestors.org/education/learning-resources/read/youth.

These exercises are designed to teach critical skills while encouraging kids to explore their personal connection to the past. Studies show that young people who know facts about their heritage have a stronger sense of self, which can help them perform better in school and life.

Big Sister mentoring                                                                                    

Since 1951, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston continues to make and support one-to-one mentoring relationships between thousands of women and girls each year.

The Big Sister professional staff matches a girl between the ages of 7 and 15 with a woman who is at least 20 years old, based on shared preferences and interests and continues to provide (virtual) support and guidance to each Big Sister, Little Sister and Little Sister’s family.

To learn more about how to become a Big Sister or to enroll a girl to become a Little Sister, visit www.bigsister.org.

Boston Ballet  videos                                     

Enjoy a variety of behind-the-scenes videos, virtual choreography, performance clips, and articles on www.bostonballet.org along with exclusive, ballet videos posted Mondays through Fridays at www.facebook.com/bostonballet and/or www.instagram.com/bostonballet.

Support Boston Ballet at www.bostonballet.org/Home/Support/Donate.

‘BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception’ digital exhibition

In a wide-ranging, year-long initiative comprising exhibitions, programs and educational activities, “BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception” at the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map & Education Center (Copley Square) offers a critical look at how to understand the world as it appears in geographic representations.

The digital show features historical and contemporary documents and interactive displays designed to show visitors the power of persuasive mapmaking and will be on view through May.

Visit leventhalmap.org/bending-lines for more information.

Free ‘grab-and-go’ meals/food resource information                              

Boston Eats provides free nutritious breakfast and lunch to city kids and youth – 18 years of age and under. No ID or registration required.

Visit www.boston.gov/departments/food-access/boston-eats or phone 1-800-645-8333 for a list of meal locations. A list of food pantries and soup kitchens, along with other information is also included.

Visit foodpantries.org for a list of current food pantries, food closets, food banks, soup kitchens, congregate meal locations, food boxes, vouchers, etc.

Contact Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 800-645-8333 if you need additional food resources.

Support Women’s Lunch Place                                         

Women’s Lunch Place, 67 Newbury St. continues to serve women while maintaining all three of their core services areas – healthy meals, direct care and advocacy.

WLP is open every day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and provides one take out package that contains a nutritious breakfast and lunch with extra snacks to sustain their guests.

Women’s Lunch Place needs donations – money, gift cards, toiletries, underwear and other basic necessities – to keep their mission going.

Visit www.womenslunchplace.org for more information.

Back Bay Mobile Soup Kitchen                                                      

The Back Bay Mobile Soup Kitchen BBMSK (“Bumsk”) is a group of young adults who minister to the homeless on the streets of Back Bay. They distribute sandwiches, fruit, socks and Rosaries and take time to listen to the stories of the men and women they encounter.

The group meets at 6 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on the front steps of the St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine, 1105 Boylston St.

They are always looking for donations (money/gift cards, toiletries, socks, and supplies) and volunteers to help prepare and package the food.

Contact Eli at 703-638-2019 or visit www.omvusa.org/about/groups for more information.

Common Cathedral and Boston Warm programs need help

Common Cathedral and Boston Warm programs under the umbrella of Ecclesia Ministries at Emmanuel Church (15 Newbury St.) needs partners to help them serve the increasing number of homeless and underserved during this critical time.

There are three specific ways that you can help make a difference:

1) Donate supplies listed on their Amazon account.

2) Donate individually wrapped homemade or purchased sandwiches, soft fruits and granola bars.

3) Donate your time, your treasures (donations) and your prayers – they are always welcomed and valued.

Visit www.commoncathedral.org for other information, including links to keep this mission alive.

Friday Night Supper Program emergency appeal

The Friday Night Supper program (FNSP) at the Arlington Street Church – the longest running program in Boston – has served more than 13,000 meals a year to more than 130 guests from all over Boston since 1984.

Your donations make a difference in the lives of people in need, whether through philanthropic dollars or individual gifts of money, clothing, toiletries and gift cards. Help fill the gap with their Emergency Appeal so they can continue their mission.

Visit www.Fridaynightsupper.org to make a donation.

Support the Esplanade Association                       

The Esplanade is the stretch of public green space that extends for three miles one way along the Boston shore of the Charles River from the Boston Museum of Science to the Boston University (BU) Bridge.

In addition to providing a beautiful natural landscape, the park is home to the iconic Hatch Memorial Shell, various historical monuments, recreational facilities and more than five miles of pathway for walking, running or biking.

Please consider making a donation to the Esplanade Association to help keep the green space thriving and the activities alive.

People’s support of Esplanade Association is more critical than ever before, especially since the annual Moonlight Gala was canceled and this event typically makes up 50 percent of their operating revenue. All donations are tax deductible and people can use any means to send their support, including Donor Advised Funds.

Visit esplanade.org for more information and links to donate.

Support the parks – give the gift of membership                                                  

Give the gift of membership to ensure that the beloved parks – the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall – remain icons of Boston and continue to receive the protection, care and management that they need.

Donations can be made at friendsofthepublicgarden.org.