REVIEW POTPOURRI – Composer: Dmitri Shostakovich

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)

Peter Catesby Peter Cates


Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar”

Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975) based his 13th Symphony on the poem, ‘Babi Yar,’ by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017). Babi Yar is the ravine near Kiev, Ukraine, where over 34,000 Jewish men, women and children were murdered by Nazi Einsatzgruppen death squads during late September 1941. However, poet Yevtushenko used the massacre as a jumping off point in his denunciation of the anti-Semitism that had continued to exist in Russia.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Meanwhile, Shostakovich had read Babi Yar and other poems by the author and used it and four others – Humour, In the Store, Fears and Career – as sub-titles for each of the four movements in this Symphony, which he completed in the summer of 1962; movements 2 – 5 were finished in six weeks. It lasts just over an hour and is scored for bass male singer, chorus of basses, three flutes, piccolo, three oboes, English horn, three clarinets, E flat clarinet, bass clarinet, three bassoons, contra bassoon, four French horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, tympani, triangle, castanets, whip, woodblocks, tambourine, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, bells, tam tam, glockenspiel, xylophone, two harps, celesta, piano and full string contingent of violins, violas, cellos and double basses.

When Shostakovich finished the work, he sang the entire Symphony for Yevtushenko in a private meeting, accompanying himself on the piano. The poet later wrote, “If I were able to write music, I would have written it the way Shostakovich did. His music made the poem greater, more meaningful, and powerful….In a word, it became a better poem.”

Shostakovich commented most tellingly about the anti-Semitism that continued to exist in Russia that was alluded to in an earlier paragraph:

“People knew about Babi Yar before Yevtushenko’s poem, but they were silent. And when they read the poem, the silence was broken. Art destroys silence.”

The composer also shared his feelings about Yevtushenko’s writing and its underlying themes:

“Morality is a sister of conscience. And perhaps God is with Yevtushenko when he speaks of conscience. Every morning in place of prayers, I re-read or repeat by memory two poems by Yevtushenko – Career and Boots.” (Time and space do not allow room to print them here.)

Needless to say, the fact that this Symphony was in preparation caused a firestorm among the Soviet leadership, with Nikita Kruschchev going ballistic (and the October ’62 Cuban missile crisis just a few short months later). But the concert took place and caused an absolute sensation. Three or four more followed and then it was suppressed. One of Shostakovich’s greatest interpreters, and close friend, Yevgeny Mravinsky, bowed out for unknown reasons so the great conductor, Kirill Kondrashin, stepped to the podium and his performances were released on LPs. There were several years of waiting but the score was eventually smuggled to the west where it received its American premier and first recording in January 1970, from bass soloist Tom Krause and Eugene Ormandy conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The Symphony has received a number of distinguished recordings during the last 50 years and some of them can be heard on YouTube, including those of Kondrashin, Ormandy, Haitink, and Barshai, which I recommend highly.

The February 1 Met Opera Porgy and Bess of George Gershwin has been postponed by the Waterville Opera House until February 15 due to another event held there. I heard the broadcast on the radio, via the WQXR radio station computer link, and plan to see it then!

First Presidential Primary in Maine in two decades to be held March 3

Explanation of the process

by Regina Coppens
League of Women Voters of Maine, Capital Area Chapter

The Maine Legislature enacted a Presidential Primary law in 2019, changing the way Maine voters select party candidates for the presidential election from a caucus to a primary. Instead of the political parties meeting in each municipality to select their presidential candidate, candidates will be selected by secret ballot. This change was supported by many who felt that it would boost voter participation in the selection process. In the past, some of the caucus locations were not large enough to accommodate all the party members who wanted to participate, and other party members were unable to spend the hours required at caucuses to cast a vote.

Who can vote in the March 3 election? In addition to the presidential candidates, there will be one referendum question on the ballot. Any registered voter can vote on the referendum question. Voters do not need to be enrolled in a political party to vote on the ballot question.

However, in order to vote in the primaries, you have to register with a party. Unenrolled, or independent voters may enroll in the party of their choice up to and including on Election Day. If, after the election, you want to unenroll from the party, you must wait three months. Voters who are already enrolled and want to change their party affiliation in order to vote a primary ballot must do so 15 days before the election.

Absentee ballots may be requested up to three months before an election and until the third business day prior to the election. For the presidential primaries on March 3, the latest date to request a ballot is February 27, 2020. (Under certain special circumstances, a voter may request an absentee ballot after this deadline.)

Absentee ballots are available 30 days before elections and must be turned into the city or town office by 8 p.m. on the day of the election, March 3.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 Election

The following candidates will be on the ballot in the Maine’s presidential primary according to the Maine Secretary of State’s office:

Democrats: Joseph Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Cory Booker, Peter Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Patrick Deval, Bernard Sanders, Thomas Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.

Republicans: Donald J. Trump

Any registered voter can vote on the referendum question.

Question 1: People’s Veto

Do you want to reject the new law that removes religious and philosophical exemptions to requiring immunization against certain communicable diseases for students to attend schools and colleges and for employees of nursery schools and health care facilities?

What does this People’s Veto mean?

A “Yes” vote means veto the law and reinstate the religious and philosophical exemptions. A “No” vote means keep the law and close those non-medical exemptions.

In May 2019, LD 798 was signed into law. It eliminates non-medical exemptions to school-required immunizations. The law retains the currently defined medical exemptions, but removes “philosophical reasons” and “religious belief” from the exemption language.

The law allows physicians and nurse practitioners to write medical exemptions using their professional judgment.

Regina Coppens is a volunteer with the League of Women Voters, Capital Area Chapter. The league is a non-partisan organization and does not support any candidates. Its goal is to inform voters about elections. Regina Coppens can be contacted at 376 West Rd., Belgrade, ME 04917, 207-877-4282.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: LD594 easy pathway for retirement savings

To the editor:

Saving for retirement is one of the most important things you can do for your future.

As a college student about to enter the workforce, it is hard for me to even think of what all retirement involves. There is one thing I know for certain, retirement is expensive. More expensive than one can imagine. I’ve always been told by my grandparents, “Start saving for retirement early, you’ll be happy you did.” When talking with my grandparents about retirement, they said the easiest way to save is by having a plan. It becomes second nature you don’t even think about as time goes on.

When researching different plan options, I found proposed legislation LD594, A Retirement Savings Program for Maine. LD594 provides an easy pathway to start saving for retirement out of my regular paycheck, regardless if my employer offers a program or not. This program would give employees the option to put a percentage of their paycheck into a retirement savings account. This program would be portable, meaning I can take it from job to job with me.

It makes sense that people are more likely to save when they can do so through their employer. Imagine what putting away just $20 a paycheck will amount to in 10 years, let alone 40+ years.

I’m hoping Maine will pass LD 594. I don’t think a lot of people my age realize how expensive retirement is. This bill will help Mainers of all ages get on the right track.

Harrison Quidort

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Humidity linked to spreading of flu

To the editor:

Cases of the flu are at an all-time high, and two schools in Maine have closed for cleaning and disinfecting. Is this all that needs to be done so that the children can go back to a “healthy” school? While it is good practice to teach children proper handwashing, to use sanitizer, and cough into your sleeve, there is one crucial health piece that schools should be doing to help protect students and their teachers.

Did you know that if a room is at the right humidity, which is 30 to 60 percent, that respiratory viruses and others aren’t easily spread? It’s true. However, if the humidity level of the school is too low, then the virus can run rampant. A Minnesota company, DriSteem, has been helping schools and other buildings across America stop this at its core and has even conducted a study with the Mayo Clinic, which showed with proper moisture in the air, viruses do not spread as easily.

Michelle Thompson
VEW Media

THE MONEY MINUTE: Own a retirement account? Get a load of this…

by Jac M. Arbour CFP®, ChFC®
President, J.M. Arbour Wealth Management

Do you own an IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 457, Thrift Savings Plan, or some other qualified or pre-tax retirement account? If so, read on.

On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the SECURE Act into law. This stands for Setting Every Community up for Retirement Enhancement Act. What follows are some of the changes that will impact many retirement account holders. Some people say there are pros and cons to the Act; like most things, it can easily be viewed that way. More important, however, is to understand the changes in order to plan appropriately around each.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) have been pushed back from age 70.5 to age 72. The age limit for IRA contributions has been removed, automatic enrollments in 401(k) plans have more support, annuities within qualified employer sponsored plans are now more of a focus in order to create guaranteed income for participants, and what has been known as the “stretch IRA” for non-spousal beneficiaries has been eliminated. It is this last change upon which I would like to expand and share a few thoughts for this month’s column.

Before the Act was passed, you could leave your IRA or qualified plan to a child or non-spouse beneficiary and he or she had the right to take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) over the course of his or her own lifetime, based on their life expectancy. That is no longer the rule. Now, it is required that the non-spouse beneficiary removes the funds from the account over a period of ten years or less. Why is this potentially so important to know? It could greatly affect your retirement spending policy, your estate plans, and you guessed it, your (and your beneficiaries’) taxes.

Imagine leaving your retirement account to a working, non-spouse beneficiary. Imagine this person has an income of their own, and now, they need to take additional income from the inherited account. Will this RMD place them into a higher tax bracket? Due to the fact that the account must be taken over the course of ten years, it means they may need to take a significant amount each year, which could affect their tax bracket.

If you have sizeable accounts and estimate that you will leave some money at death, part of the planning process is to now consider, even more than before, what this could mean for tax purposes for your beneficiaries.

For some people, this means converting to Roth over the next “X” number of years while relatively speaking, we are still in a favorable tax environment. There are a number of strategies to consider and I suggest you speak with your tax professional, estate planning professional, and/or advisor sooner than later.

Here is what I promise: Proper prior planning will allow you to improve your realized results.

See you all next month.

Jac Arbour CFP®, ChFC®

Jac Arbour is the President of J.M. Arbour Wealth Management and can be reached at 207-248-6767.

Investment advisory services are offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

New Dimension FCU welcomes new vice president of lending

Darla Frost

New Dimensions Federal Credit Union, in Waterville, announces its new Vice President of Lending, Darla Frost, who comes to them with over 20 years of mortgage lending experience. Frost is also an active charter member and treasurer of the Waterville Lion Club as well as an affiliate member of the Kennebec Valley Board of Realtors.

Directors and staff are excited to have Frost join their team as her experience and wealth of knowledge will be valuable as she settles into her position. She will spearhead the future path of lending by navigating innovative lending programs, compliance, member satisfaction, and more. She states, “I am amazed and excited that New Dimensions is the type of financial institution that truly cares about their members and it shows by the customer service and special care they take with each member. They walk the talk and I look forward to becoming a part of this team. I am especially looking forward to helping the other lenders succeed by coaching and assisting each of them in a manner that works for their individual needs.” Frost enjoys camping and kayaking and spends most of her summer at a local campground in Winthrop. She resides in Augusta with her fiancé Peter

Ryan Poulin, CEO, states, “I am so pleased that Darla has joined our team here at New Dimensions. She will be an instrumental part of our management team because of her years of experience, knowledge and dedication to our communities. She will focus on member experience, ease of process, and saving members money. We welcome her and I look forward to working closely with her in the years to come.”

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Learning a lesson from an Apple Store


The new Apple Store at the Maine Mall.

by Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

The world has changed. “Amazon is taking over and killing retail stores.” Isn’t this what we hear and read about just about every day? When people want to buy something from a toothbrush, to a TV, to a book, they simply go to and buy it. Amazon, with its enormous warehouses all over the country can provide just about anything, at anytime, and send it overnight anywhere! How can you beat that? How can a small business even try to compete against that kind of availability and capability? Why don’t we just all give up and go home, some people think.

But wait, I’m here to tell you that you can compete with Amazon and the secret way to do it will surprise you. All you have to do is learn from another giant competitor, APPLE. Have you been in an APPLE store lately? Have you seen the way those folks handle customer service? Do you realize that APPLE stores are the most successful retail stores in the world? Did you know that APPLE stores make more in dollars per square foot than any other retail store in the world?

Every time I have been to the APPLE store at the Maine Mall, it’s been mobbed. In fact, the last time my wife and I went they had moved to a store space twice as large to accommodate all of their customers. When was the last time you saw a retail store do that?

Every customer was engaged with an APPLE “expert” asking questions, being instructed on how to get the best use of their products, advised on what the best APPLE model product they should buy to meet their needs. It was amazing and stunning to watch in an age deemed by the “experts” as the death of retail sales.

As a comparison, after we were done at the APPLE store, having spent $200 we did not plan on spending, we had to walk down the Mall hall to the other store that sells electronics among many other things including the office sized fridge we wanted to look at. And that store was virtually empty. We spent all the time we needed looking at the selection of models of the type of small fridge we were looking for. We spent a full 15 minutes in that store, and no one came up to ask if we needed any help. And we could see a number of blue-shirted associates in clusters talking and joking to one another, but none of them showing any interest in coming over to see what we wanted. None of them. And this is one of those chains that is consistently complaining that Amazon is driving them out of business. No, they I think they are driving themselves out of business.

Rather than driving my point home, dear reader, I’ll let you connect the dots. Picture my description on the APPLE store and then my description of that other store… and you’ll choose the right example on which to model on how to grow your own business.

Dan Beaulieu has owned his own business consulting firm since 1995, during that time he has helped hundreds of companies all over the world with their sales growth challenges and issues. Originally from Maine he returned a few years ago and is ready and willing to help his fellow Mainers start and grow their business. He can be reached at 07-649-0879 or at

FOR YOUR HEALTH: Cracking the Code to Society’s Most Feared Disease

Medical researchers may have come up with a way to treat such dreaded conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, MS and spinal cord injuries.

(NAPS)—Even more than cancer, there’s one disease most people fear. The thought of falling prey to Alzheimer’s disease and to the inevitable desecration of the mind is something that can make even the bravest shudder.

After all, if you’re robbed of your sense of who you really are, you’re doomed to live your last days without the dignity that defines you and that you hold dear. Perhaps the ultimate horror of Alzheimer’s disease is that it is as indiscriminate, merciless, and devastating as a wind-swept wildfire.

As a result, a disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s disease has become a Holy Grail of sorts in the biotech industry. The disease is so ubiquitous, it casts a shadow over just about everyone’s family. At the same time, it exacts a devastating financial toll on society—perhaps even greater than cancer—with Alzheimer’s disease patients needing 24-hour care for an average of eight years and sometimes as many as 20 years.

The estimated cost for caring for Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is well in excess of a quarter of a trillion dollars per annum. This doesn’t even include unpaid caregiving. Also, Alzheimer’s disease is ranked as the third leading cause of death of seniors in the United States, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer. Approximately 6 million Americans have become its victims, and this number rises each year as lifespans increase due to advancements in medical science.

Progress From Pharmaceuticals

Fortunately, a few pharmaceuti­cal companies, including Biogen, AC Immune SA and NervGen Pharma, have come up with ways to potentially treat the condition and perhaps slow it down. NervGen’s medical researchers are working on what may become an important breakthrough for Alzheimer’s and other afflictions that are defined by nerve damage.

Could This Be Modern Medicine’s Holy Grail?

Until recently, NervGen’s focus has mostly been on developing nerve regeneration for the treatment of spinal cord injuries. In fact, some remarkable results have been achieved in preclinical trials, including one where the treated rodents regained substantial functionality in their legs after sustaining severe spinal cord damage.

Assuming it also works in humans, the medical science world will be paying very close attention because there are no known therapies that can stimulate human nerve regeneration now.

In addition, NervGen intends to commence a Phase 2 clinical trial for treating multiple sclerosis. The company’s drug candidate is expected to treat many of such debilitating symptoms as numbness, loss of sensation, chronic and debilitating pain, partial loss of movement, paralysis, and even incontinence due to additional mechanisms of action called “remyelination” and “plasticity.”

The research team also believes that the same nerve-rejuvenating biotechnology can be adapted to treat Alzheimer’s disease, not just mitigate its symptoms due to its truly novel and innovate approach.

The essence of this technology is that it unlocks a damaged nervous system’s natural ability to repair itself. Proprietary molecules “unstick” nerves and prevent new ones from getting stuck by interfering with synaptic-like connections so the nerves can regrow in places that are normally highly inhibited by scar tissue.

The co-inventor of NervGen’s technology, Dr. Jerry Silver, is one of the world’s most foremost neuroscience researchers of spinal cord injury. Dr. Silver, who is also Professor of Neurosciences at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, has been working this unique approach to nerve rejuvenation biotechnology since the early ’90s by focusing on a protein called CSPG that inhibits the body’s natural ability to grow and regenerate.

Heretofore, no drugs have been approved anywhere in the world for nerve regeneration and remyelination, as well as improved plasticity in damaged nerves. Additionally, existing treatments are not considered very effective. So, the stakes are especially high for NervGen to create a blockbuster drug candidate that promises to even outshine any other Alzheimer’s disease drug. This is a wonderful opportunity to pioneer nerve repairing drug therapies that target some of the most devastating and pervasive diseases known to humankind.

Learn More

For further facts and figures about NervGen Pharma, go to

Meet the candidates session before special election for vacant China selectmen’s seat

Albert Church Brown Memorial Library in China Village.

A meet the candidates session is scheduled at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library, in China Village, in advance of China’s March 3 special election to fill a vacancy on the Selectboard. Candidates are Christopher Hahn, Janet Preston and Kevin Rhoades.

CHINA: Committee reviews budget recommendations

by Mary Grow

China Budget Committee members reviewed the town manager’s and selectmen’s recommendations for 2020-21 municipal expenditures at their Jan. 30 meeting. Their discussion again touched on the controversial stipends for volunteer firefighters, and in other areas suggested potential disagreement with the selectmen.

Another question raised Jan. 30 is how warrant articles will be written for the April 4 town meeting. There are two types of articles.

A “capped” article has the amount to be appropriated in the body of the article. In that case, voters cannot increase it; they can approve it or reduce it.

An “open” article begins with “To see what sum of money,” with recommended amounts from the selectmen and budget committee printed below the article. Voters can increase, approve or reduce the amount(s) printed.

Town Manager Dennis Heath said he intends to cap all appropriation articles. Budget Committee Chairman Robert Batteese predicted voters would not like the format and pointed out most articles have been open for years. Heath said he would write open articles if the selectmen direct him to do so.

The firefighters’ stipends are moved out of the fire department budget into the community support agencies budget, with $10,000 recommended for each fire department and for China Rescue.

During a brief review of the proposed fire and rescue appropriation, South China Fire Chief Richard Morse told committee members he believes the line item his department calls “recruitment and retention” rather than “stipends” should be left in the fire department budget. He added that he had asked for $12,000 for 2020-21 because last year he went over budget.

Morse left the meeting before discussion of the community support lines. Budget committee member Tim Basham’s motion to recommend $12,000 for the South China department’s recruitment and retention line was not seconded.

Heath has also moved requests from the China Lake Association and the China Region Lakes Alliance from Tax Increment Finance funding to community support. He said as of Jan. 1 the town no longer does bookkeeping and payroll for the two organizations; like other organizations, they will do their own paperwork and report to him how they spend taxpayers’ money.

A major issue for budget committee members was salaries for Town Clerk Becky Hapgood, Transfer Station Manager Tim Grotton and Public Works Manager Shawn Reed. Heath proposes promoting them from hourly workers to salaried managers, saying that in his administration they are functioning as managers, for example, preparing department budgets and hiring new employees.

When selectmen reviewed the draft budget Jan. 27 (see The Town Line, Jan. 30), they proposed equal dollar raises for all three that resulted in somewhat lower salaries than Heath recommended. Budget committee members thought since Hapgood is qualified – and designated, Heath said – to step in as town manager in an emergency, she should be paid more than the other two. They voted unanimously for 10 percent raises for all three, giving Hapgood the highest pay and Grotton, who has been with the town the shortest time, the lowest.

Heath opened the budget committee discussion with a brief review of expected revenues. Since many major items, like road maintenance and town office expenses, are covered by non-tax revenues like grants and fees, he does not expect the municipal budget will need much more from taxpayers next year than this year.

As the Jan. 30 meeting ended, Heath and Batteese recommended the following schedule: a Feb. 10 selectmen’s meeting and a Feb. 12 budget committee meeting for each group to review draft town meeting warrant articles and a Feb. 13 joint meeting to make final decisions. All meetings are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the town office.