Experience the world, close to home

Hinsdale Public Library offers ways to expand one's cultural horizons

The Hinsdale Public Library, 20 E. Maple St., invites patrons to check out its lineup of cultural arts programming over the next several weeks.

From music to cuisine to unique crafts, the library seeks to be "a gateway between Hinsdale and the wider world" through the events, said Karen Keefe, the library's executive director.

"One of our strategic goals is to be a welcoming gathering place in the community, with opportunities to learn, engage and discover," she said. "We know that our well-traveled community enjoys learning about other cultures, and we want to reflect a variety of interests and experiences."

Check out the following programs taking place in July and August. To register or for more information, visit http://www.hinsdalelibrary.org or call (630) 986-1976.

Sounds of the East

Kerry Leung found the joy of music as boy growing up in Guangzhou, China, by learning to play the bamboo flute at age 10 and proceeding to teach himself to play many other traditional Chinese instruments along the way.

Leung will demonstrate his mastery at the library in his Moon Concert from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 29.

Leung said he will perform traditional Chinese music for listeners on various instruments, including the erhu two-stringed fiddle, the lute-like pipa, the ruan moon guitar and several variations of flute.

"The music I will play is Chinese classical that dates back to the Tang Dynasty about 1,300 years ago," Leung said. "I will explain the instruments and tell people about the differences between Chinese instruments and other instruments."

He noted that traditional Chinese compositions followed the pentatonic scale and didn't employ semitones.

"It's like if a pianist was never taught to use the

black keys," Leung said.

The program is called a "moon" concert because so many of the pieces were inspired by the phases of the moon.

"The Chinese think the moon is so beautiful, especially in the evening," Leung said. "There's even a Mid-Autumn Festival every year to celebrate the moon."

He added that he'll also play songs more familiar to Western ears on the instruments.

"I hope the concert helps people understand a little more about Chinese culture," Leung said.

Cossacks come to town

Gennady Sergienko and his group, The Chicago Cossacks, are marking 30 years of entertaining audiences with performances of Ukrainian, klezmer and Romani music and dance.

For the first time, the group will bring their distinctive sound to the library in an HPL After Dark concert from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug., 6 on the Memorial Hall lawn. Visitors are invited to bring a picnic; drinks and treats will be provided.

Sergienko said five members of the troupe - a singer, two musicians and two dancers - will be on hand.

"We'll play mostly a selection of traditional Ukrainian songs, dances and instrumental tunes," he said. "Our program will include an explanation of the lyrics and an overview of the culture. We'll be playing traditional instruments, the accordion and the mandolin."

Sergienko said Russia's attack on Ukraine has had devastating effects. But the silver lining is that Americans know much more about the eastern European nation than ever before.

"Many people have learned that it's not part of Russia but an independent country, with its own musical and linguistic heritage," he asserted.

That, Sergienko noted, has helped grow audiences for the Cossacks' shows, both within the Polish and Czech communities that share some cultural touchpoints and beyond to those with no previous connection.

"After the war started, people come up to us and they give words of support and ask about our relatives there," he said.

In fact, the term "cossack" hearkens back to medieval times to refer to warriors who defended the independence of the Ukrainian state throughout the region's centuries of conflict.

"We invite people to come and learn more about Ukrainian culture," Sergienko said.

Spice up your cooking

UIC English professor Mary Anne Mohanraj, author of two Sri Lankan cookbooks, "A Feast of Serendib" and "Vegan Serendib," will demonstrate how to roast, grind and mix Sri Lankan curry powder in the Spice Mixing Class from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9. Learn about history of spices and cooking in Sri Lanka, an island near the tip of India whose cuisine has been influenced by three waves of colonization and thousands of years of cultural exchange, and discuss ways to adjust heat levels and flavors to individual preferences.

Two other internationally flavored library programs are accepting wait list registration:

• The Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project will teach participants to make a lotus flower lantern using colored paper and wire frames as part of the library's CrafterDark series from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15.

• Local chef Susan Maddox will lead the Mediterranean Cooking Class: Seasonal Cooking from Summer's Bounty from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21. After shopping at Hinsdale's farmer's market, learn how to prepare the fresh food Mediterranean-style outside on the library's patio.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean