Arts Around Town

Arts Around Town: Tales from around the world feature Lehigh Valley storyteller Kristin Pedemonti

There's story time and storytelling, something that former children's librarian Kristin Pedemonti of Allentown knows much about. Her life crises beginning at birth provided many roadblocks for her to overcome, including a 20-year struggle with anorexia. But somehow, she was able to seek out the little things that made her smile, among them, storytelling and literacy outreach. And that has made all the difference not only for her but for those she has met through her travels around the world.

Pedemonti shares stories from her travels to Ireland on Friday at 8 p.m., as part of a "Story Cabaret" for adults at the Touchstone Theatre Café , 321 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem. The event, themed "Blarney," is being held in collaboration with the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild and Touchstone Theatre. Also sharing the stage will be valley storyteller Charles Kiernan. An open mic segment will give audience members an opportunity to share their own stories.

For children ages 4-10, it's a "Storybook Breakfast" themed "Sail the Seas!" on Saturday from 9 to 11:30 a.m., at the Kasych Family Pavilion of Lehigh Valley Health Network, Cedar Crest Boulevard, Salisbury Twp., Lehigh Co.  Doors open at 8:30 a.m. Sponsored by The Literacy Center of the Lehigh Valley, the event will feature activities plus the Interactive Folktale Theatre of Pedemonti with animal tales from Kenya and Ghana. The ticketed event benefits The Literacy Center and its programs.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., Pedemonti's Interactive Folktale Theatre continues with the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild's children's series at Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem. Free books will be available through the Cops ‘n' Kids children's literacy program.

Pedemonti, a graduate of Parkland High School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has found her niche as an award-winning cause-focused storyteller, speaker, author and TED Talks talent search finalist. Through regional, national and worldwide performances, she connects culture and builds bridges between people through the power of story.

"Our stories matter and we all have the potential to make a positive impact," she said.

She's been a full-time storyteller since 2005, when she "took a leap" and sold her home and possessions to create and facilitate the volunteer project, Literacy Outreach Belize, which went global in 2013. She's donated programs for 33,000 youth and trained 800 teachers on how to use their own cultural stories in the classroom. Her book, "Building Bridges Between: Connecting Culture, Classrooms & Communities," is slated for publication this year. Locally, she's working on a new program involving storytelling in the corporate setting.

Pedemonti attributes her previous work in clinics for under-served women and as lead interviewer for the SHARE ovarian cancer study at the University of Pennsylvania as the impetus for the Power of Story. As lead facilitator for Clinton Global Initiative member Artfully AWARE's community created book project, she's traveled to Kenya, Ghana and Haiti to collect the life stories of local artisans, educators entrepreneurs and innovators which reveal resilience, persistence and overcoming adversity. For that, she produced the book, "Perseverance and Possibility in Kenya."

Pedemonti also has another passion besides storytelling, she said, "sharing FREE HUGS, blowing bubbles on subways and helping others release their Inner Superheroes."

Some tips she shares in being a storyteller: "Be a good listener; be empathetic; share from the heart."

Pedemonti will be sharing Muslim stories at Lower Macungie Library as part of its "Let's Talk About It: Muslim Journeys" reading and discussion series, on March 29 at 11 a.m., at 3450 Brookside Road, Macungie, Lehigh Co.

For further info:  (610-435-0680, ext. 119)



Pottstown artist Raun Kercher's acrylic and pastel painting, "All-Star Trio," captured first place in the 10th annual Frank Scott Memorial Art Show's "The Art of Jazz" juried exhibition sponsored by the Berks Arts Council. Kercher also captured first prize in the 2012 show.

Other winning entries included: Liam Harkins of Morgantown, second place, "Creature Cantina" photograph; Laurie Lamont-Murray of West Chester, third place, "Smokin'" acrylic painting. Honorable mentions went to Audrey Bordanaro, Miles DeCoster, Lynn Millar, Amy Schade, Birdie Zoltan and Reading High School student Cesar Jose Gonzalez. There was no student category, according to the Berks Arts Council; all artists were reviewed based on the caliber of work entered.

Juror was Dennis Danko; exhibit coordinator and curator is Fran Parzanese. All work by the 47 participating artists is on display through March 27 at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts, 201 Washington St., Reading, leading up to the Berks Jazz Fest, March 28-April 6.

For further info:


The fourth annual Parade of Shamrocks kicks off in downtown Bethlehem on Saturday at 1 p.m., beginning at 13th Avenue and Broad Street. It will continue east on Broad to Main Street and go south on Main, ending under the Hill-to-Hill Bridge.

Activities will be held throughout the day in the area, including the annual best legs in a kilt contest at 11 a.m., at Donegal Square. There will be plenty of Celtic music, both indoors and outdoors, including performers on the Sun Inn courtyard stage. Among the musicians will be Craig Thatcher and Nyk VanWyk at 5 p.m.

For further info:


Six high school bands will be competing in the finals of the 2014 SteelStacks High School Jazz Band Showcase on Sunday at 4 p.m., at the ArtsQuest Center's Musikfest Café in Bethlehem for the chance to open for Cherry Poppin' Daddies on May 22, during RiverJazz. Runners-up will share the stage with Preservation Hall Jazz Band on May 8, during RiverJazz.

The bands are: Easton Area High School, director Carole Lutte; Fleetwood Area High School, director Charles Ebersole; Kutztown Area High School, director Doug Matz; Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, director Mike Lorenz; North Penn High School, director John Josten, and Quakertown Community High School, director Frank Parker.

Each band will perform a 20-minute set before a live audience and a panel of judges. The event also will include performances by the Moravian College Jazz Faculty Band and SteelStacks Jazz All-Star Big Band.

The finals will be featured on 69-WFMZ-TV during a one-hour TV special on March 29 at 8 p.m.

For further info:


Speaking of RiverJazz: A gallery exhibit showcasing art created at RiverJazz 2013, "RiverJazz Artists Exhibition," is on display through April 20, in the Alvin H. Butz Gallery at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks.

Artists include: Joseph Bruno of Allentown; Liz Magno of Walnutport; Ann Elizabeth Schlegel of Allentown and David Sommers of Bethlehem.

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Country Gate Players at Country Gate Playhouse, 114 Greenwich St., Belvidere, N.J., opens with the award-winning musical comedy, "Nunsense," beginning Saturday at 8 p.m., and running through March 23.

The cast includes Kelly Foley of Stroudsburg as Mother Superior, Coleen Van Natta of Easton as Sister Mary Hubert, Melissa Bigelli of Easton as Sister Robert Anne, Kelcie Kosberg of Washington, N.J., as Sister Mary Leo, and Rosemary Kumma of Phillipsburg, N.J., as Sister Mary Amnesia. Director is Gina Scurato of Harmony, N.J.; music director is Tierney Jory of Bangor, Northampton Co.

For further info:


"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," based on the story by L. Frank Baum and adapted by Tim Kelly, will be presented by Act 1 DeSales senior theater majors beginning Tuesday and running through May 1, at the Schubert Theatre in the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts at DeSales University, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley.

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Lehigh Valley artists Annie Giancarlo and Julie Miller are exhibiting vintage photographic works and mixed media, respectively, in the exhibit, "The Valley Girls: A Room With Two Views," through March 31, at the J.B. Kline & Son Gallery, 25 Bridge St., Lambertville, N.J.

Miller's piece, "Prudence Fenwick and Friends," won the purchase prize in 2012, by the James A. Michener Museum at the InVision Photography Festival at ArtsQuest in Bethlehem. Giancarlo, recognized for wearable art, studied at Cedar Crest College and The Baum School of Art in Allentown.

For further info:


Mock Turtle Marionettes will present "Shadow Stories" with Balinese music at the Charles A. Brown IceHouse, 56 River St., on Sand Island, Bethlehem, on Saturday at 10 a.m. Three shadow puppet plays will be performed with live Indonesian music by the Gamelan Mekar Sari ensemble.

The shadow plays are "The Grumpy Gecko," "Travels to Tondo," and "Legend of Sung Low." A free workshop/demonstration of gamelan instruments and shadow puppet theater will follow the performance.

For further info:


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