Kalia Enjoys Being ‘Foodie’

Music and food seem to go together harmoniously.

Here is a case in point: the first three finalists for the music director’s position who have appeared with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra this season are all self-confessed “foodies.”

During recent interviews, candidates Timothy Hankewich, Andres Franco and Roger Kalia all spoke of their love of food and wine and/or craft beer. It remains to be seen whether the remaining finalists, Silas Huff and John Devlin, share that passion.

Kalia is conducting the WSO’s Symphony on Ice performance at WesBanco Arena at 7 p.m. Thursday. He also led the orchestra’s July tour.

He and his wife Christine, a violinist and musicologist, live in California currently. “When I’m not conducting, we love trying out new restaurants. We’re total foodies,” he remarked.

Kalia, a longtime fan of college basketball, said he and his wife also are “huge jazz fans” and enjoy hiking.

“We love just getting out and enjoying a hike. California has wonderful hiking trails and these wonderful beaches. We enjoy taking time to walk and explore,” he related.

At other times, Kalia said, “Some nights, I turn off the radio, take a teacup and start to read something.”

He and his wife got married in March in New Orleans, her favorite city, which has “amazing food” and “an unbelievable music scene,” he commented.

“We had just this amazing jazz group for the reception. That was something really special,” he recalled.

Kalia, who grew up in Manhasset, New York, explained that his wife’s family is from New Orleans, but later moved to Houston, Texas.

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Music also figures into literary pursuits for some writers.

West Virginia author Natalie Sypolt, who spoke at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling on Tuesday, said her three main sources of inspiration are songs or song lyrics, family stories and “the creative work of others.” She observed, “All writers must be great readers.”

She appeared at Lunch With Books to talk about her first collection of stories, “The Sound of Holding Your Breath,” published by West Virginia University Press.

After describing her writing practice, Sypolt read a story, “Lettuce,” which was inspired by the image of a person covering a crop of lettuce to protect it from bad weather. The story,which was titled “Save the Lettuce” originally, was published initially in the Little Springs Review.

Sypolt is an assistant professor at Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont.

The author said she has been writing her whole life. Participating in a young writers’ contest provided an important experience and opportunity.

Sypolt said she was a psychology major in college, but added a major in English after taking a creative writing class. She said she finished both degrees.

Appalachian writers have inspired Sypolt. One of those influential writers — West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman — was in the audience for her Lunch With Books presentation.

Recently, Sypolt participated in a panel discussion on Appalachian writing for a national conference held in Houston and attended by thousands of English teachers. She was encouraged “to see the amazing energy of these teachers and what they’re doing for their students … It’s amazing, the kind of work they’re doing with their students,” she added.

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It was encouraging and inspiring to see the large number of local residents who attended the community interfaith Thanksgiving service held at Temple Shalom in Wheeling Wednesday evening.

A few weeks ago, during a community prayer service after the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Rabbi Joshua Lief of Temple Shalom invited and challenged those in attendance to return for a community interfaith Thanksgiving service. It was refreshing to see that many people acted on that invitation. While the crowd wasn’t overflowing as it had been for the earlier prayer service, the audience filled the temple’s sanctuary Wednesday night.

During the service, the rabbi and Christian clergy offered scriptural readings on the theme of gratitude and giving thanks. Lief also urged the audience to think of those who were not present and to help people who had nowhere to go on Thanksgiving and who had no family, had rejected their relatives or had been rejected by their family.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net

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