ESU Syracuse Branch

A Message from the Syracuse Branch President

Established in 1948, The Syracuse Branch of the English-Speaking Union is a very active group. Our programs reflect our members who are spirited, thoughtful and concerned about intercultural and international communications. They share a genuine interest in people and community affairs. The Syracuse Branch meets the second Saturday of each month - September through May - at a private club.

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News And Events

April and May 2024

The Syracuse branch finished its 2023-2024 season with its April and May meetings. In May Natividad Torrence, accompanied by her son, spoke to the group about MercyWorks, Inc, where she serves as Program Director. MercyWorks' mission is to educate, encourage and empower young people in our underserved communities through a series of innovative classes and hands-on workshops. See a list of their current programs at their website here.

Pictured here are Natividad Torrence and her son, along with E-SU Syracuse Branch Co-President Ann Barker-Griffith.

The May meeting celebrated Mother's Day, spring, and our branch at the traditional "Wear Your Vintage Hat" day. Member Aileen Balitz spoke about her experience as a new member of the Shakespeare Committee and her attendance at the local Shakespeare workshop and competition. Co-President Ann Barker-Griffith gave a presentation on the many purposes and programs of the English-Speaking Union nationally and in various branches across the country. Pictured below are members in their millinery finery.


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Winter/Spring 2024 Meetings

March 11, 2024 Meeting

At our March 11 meeting, Elizabeth Balfour, the Education Coordinator of CNY Lyme & Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, gave her presentation, "Tick Talk."   Member Shirley Cruikshank introduced Ms. Balfour who informed our group about the prevention of tick-borne diseases and how to deal with ticks if we find them on our own, our children's, or our pets' bodies. Each member was presented with a tick kit to help with the removal of ticks. Ms. Balfour is pictured below.

February 10, 2024 Meeting

Our February 10 meeting featured Professor Thomas Miller of Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing art with an entertaining and informative talk entitled "Celebrating Shakespeare." He gave us a chance to test our Shakespearean knowledge with some interesting audience participation questions.

January 13, 2024 Meeting

Our speaker was Garth Johnson, the curator of The Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Ceramics Collection at the Everson Museum of Art. In this dynamic and interesting presentation, Mr. Johnson explained that Syracuse holds a prominent place in the world of ceramics, largely due to the influence of Syracusan Adelaide Robineau who was a prominent ceramicist of the 1800's. Ms. Robineau's scarab vase is a proud and valuable possession of the gallery. Johnson explained the thousand+ hours of work that went into the making of the vase, from carving to glazing to firing. The vase is only one of many pieces of Ms. Robineau's at the museum. Her work is also exhibited throughout the United States, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Syracuse Branch President Ann Barker Griffith and Garth Johnson

The ceramics exhibit changes frequently allowing different collections and pieces by various artists to be featured. Some of the pieces are whimsical, some functional, many elegant, but all are, as Johnson said, art. He encouraged us to visit if we have not done so recently and to bring Syracuse guests to the Everson, our I.M. Pei-designed treasure.

Johnson explaining some of the finer points of the Robineau scarab vase


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Syracuse Chapter ESU Fall 2023

The Syracuse Chapter is proud to announce that Anka Chiorini won its Shakespeare Competition for the third year in a row and competed against other chapter winners from across the country at the National Shakespeare Competition in New York City at the end of April.  In her 2nd year in New York City, Anka placed in the top ten finalists in the country.  Anka has now "retired" from the high school competition and is attending Oberlin College this year.  She is pictured below with Jamesville-Dewitt high school principal Greg Lawson on the left and Syracuse Chapter Shakespeare Competition Chairperson Barbara Weller on the right. 

The Syracuse Chapter has been busy with fall events at its monthly luncheons.

On October 14 Mike Intaglietta, Executive Director, spoke on The Landmark Theater, Yesterday and Today.  

November 11th brought us Robert Searing, the Curator of History at the Onondaga Historical Association, speaking on Syracuse's Gustav Stickley and the Arts and Crafts Legacy.

Pictured below are speaker Robert Searing and ESU member JoAnn Wallace.

Winter/Spring 2024 Luncheon Meeting Dates and Topics

January 13, 2024:  Ceramic Art, speaker Garth Johnson, The Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Ceramics Curator at the Everson Museum of Art.

February 10, 2024: Celebrating Shakespeare, speaker Prof. Thomas Miller, Associate Professor, College of Visual and Performing Art, Syracuse University Department of Drama.

March 9, 2024:  Tick Talk, speaker Elizabeth Balfour of the CNY Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease of Allliance

April 13, 2024:  Mercy Works: Empowering the Children and Youth of Syracuse, speaker Natividad Torrence, Program Director, Mercy Works:

May 11, 2024:  Annual Meeting.  Additional Programming TBA. 


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The ESU National Shakespeare Competition Starts Now!

News Photo

We are pleased to announce the kick-off of the ESU's National Shakespeare Competition! Schools in our region may enter now, giving students the opportunity to compete in the Syracuse Branch Competition.  The winner of the branch competition will travel to NYC to compete in the national finals at Lincoln Center!  


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ESU Spring Meetings 2023

May 13 Meeting

The May meeting was a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Syracuse Branch of the ESU, complete with a cake and champagne toasts to our 75 years, to the office of the President of the United States, and to King Charles III.  

Our speaker, introduced by member Judy Carpenter, was Christian Capocaccia, Artistic Director of the Syracuse Opera Company.  Maestro Capocaccia, born in Rome, studied at its Conservatorio Santa Cecelia and in the U.S. at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music.  He is renowned all over the US and Europe and has been recognized by the New York Times for his energy and musical expertise.  He explained the nuances of directing an opera versus directing a symphony orchestra, and he shared that his favorite opera is Tristan and Isolde.  We are glad that he and his family have made Syracuse his home.

April 8 Meeting

When our April speaker was unable to make the meeting, our inimitable and quick-thinking Dori Parker saved the day by introducing each member present and asking each one to say a few words.  We all contributed and ended up with an interesting, sometimes humorous, often informative, and thoroughly unique April meeting.  Pictured below are our "speaker" members preparing their extemporaneous remarks.


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The English-Speaking Union

Syracuse Branch

Welcome to the ESU

The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.

To find out more about our programs click here.