THE BROOKLYN MUSIC SCHOOL PLAYHOUSE presents The Siege of Syracuse, the world premiere of a two-act chamber opera by resident composer MARTIN HALPERN.

A through and through New Yorker, Halpern was born in the Bronx and attended school at the University of Rochester before serving for two years in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He later enrolled in the doctoral program at Harvard University and still later, joined the Theater Arts faculty at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, where he taught playwriting and dramatic literature for 29 years and chaired the department for seven. On his retirement from Brandeis in 1994, Halpern’s longtime interest in literature, drama and music became full-time pursuits as he “embarked on a second career” as a composer in New York.
Halpern has won 11 “Meet the Composer” grants and 10 ASCAP awards, and since 1997 has been concerts director of the Long Island Composers’ Alliance.
The Brooklyn Music School Playhouse writes about Siege of Syracuse: “Set in Athens, Greece, in 413 B.C., the opera dramatizes the tragic fall of the once glorious Athenian empire as a result of disastrous policies which may call to mind American policies in Vietnam and Iraq. The cast includes actual historical figures like the hawkish Cleophon, head of the Athenian council, and his antagonist, the philosopher Socrates, as well as fictional characters including a four-person chorus representing the city’s populace.”
Stage direction is by SONYA BAEHR, director of Poly Prep’s Performing Arts Camp. Costume design is by JENNIFER PAAR, who has worked closely with Brooklyn’s Poly Prep and elsewhere. Halpern’s son, ROBERT UNDERWOOD-HALPERN, plays the character Alexis.
Shows will be Oct. 31 at 8 p.m., Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 2 at 4 p.m.
Tickets are $20; student tickets are $10. Make reservations by calling (718) 638-5660, ext. 10 or visit
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FOURTEEN INTERNATIONAL Arts Business High School students from Crown Heights traveled to New Orleans’ Ninth Ward for a week in April, accompanied by their U.S. History teacher and Young Audiences New York teaching artists, to volunteer in Katrina recovery efforts and document the experience. On Nov. 6, Young Audiences will provide these students with the opportunity to publicly screen their film and photography from the trip.

The presentation will be held in Sony HD Theater at the Sony Wonder Technology Lab at 56th and Madison Avenue (entrance on 56th Street). Reservations are required and space is limited. Reserve your seat early by contacting CARRIE FORD by phone at (646) 871-3501 or by e-mail at cford@ There is a suggested donation of $5 for students and $10 for adults, and all funds raised during this event will support the 2009 Student Katrina Relief Trip.

FORMER BROOKLYN BOROUGH HISTORIAN JOHN B. MANBECK uses his prodigious knowledge of Brooklyn “now and then” to write a weekly history column for The Brooklyn Eagle. His new book, Brooklyn: Historically Speaking, is a compilation of the best of those columns written over the past five years about Brooklyn neighborhoods, historical events, individuals and places. The well-published author has said this book was one of the “most fun” to compile.

On Nov. 5, in a free event open to the public, Manbeck will read from Historically Speaking at the Brooklyn Historical Society. The reading, sponsored by the Eagle, begins at 7 p.m. and will include refreshments. A Brooklyn Heights resident, Manbeck taught English and Journalism for 32 years at Kingsborough Community College and is now professor emeritus.