All posts filed under: Articles

The music of the Ciompi Quartet

On a recent bright winter day, the members of the Ciompi Quartet gathered at Duke University to play. Inside the airy concert hall space of Baldwin Auditorium, the quartet started, stopped, and tweaked the way they played. An audio technician sat to the side with a laptop and recording equipment for the session. Negotiations abounded. Because of coronavirus restrictions, the group played with their masks on. And then there were the discussions with the composers, both in person and over Zoom, on how to best approach their pieces. The four pieces were by students in Duke’s Music Department. The music was challenging, abstract, moody, with discordant melodies, full of feelings of disconnection and isolation. The music uncomfortably heightened what was going on in the world. One of the pieces was even called, “Disconnected.” After one successful “take,” viola player Jonathan Bagg asked, “How did that sound to you, James?” The composer, himself taken aback by the beauty of the quartet’s playing, had to snap back to reality before responding, “That was great. Thank you.” Despite …

Election Day 2020

On the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 3, this year, people quietly, wearily went about their business, too exhausted to be excited about the election. Later that night, voters would see the results of this contentious, overly partisan fight between President Donald Trump and the former Vice President Joe Biden for the White House, in this historic election that has been much referred to as a fight for the soul of this country. For more than a year, there have been protests, bumper stickers, yard signs, a screaming, shouting Democratic Party primary, followed by the fears, anxiety and exhaustion resulting from the lockdowns from the coronavirus. But in the end, many people still went about the voting process like normal, rushing to cast their votes before polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. At Hope Valley Baptist Church in Durham, toward the end of the day, voters were still rolling into the parking lot, bringing their kids with them after work. Erin Durkin, a volunteer with Democracy NC, a Morrisville-based nonprofit advocating for voter’s rights, had been …

Election 2020: Biden in Durham

By Karen Tam Former Vice President Joe Biden made a mysterious trip to Durham on Sunday where few people heard or saw him. Biden had a virtual meeting with African-American faith leaders and he spoke inside the Riverside High School campus to a selected few. As he spoke at Riverside, Redouane and Kim Hafidi of Durham wore their “VOTE” masks as they stood outside the fenced area. Redouane Hafidi, originally from Morocco, said he thought Biden would be a better president who will be more supportive of the immigrant population. Eight-year-old Owen Weinard of Durham, along with his mother, Ashley Weinard, also waited outside Riverside, hoping to get a glimpse of Biden. Owen said he is also counting the years till he can vote. Later in the afternoon, the Latino part of the Biden campaign, Todos con Biden, organized a car parade. Cars gathered at the Compare Foods shopping center on University Drive, lining up for what would become a horn-honking caravan to the South Regional Library for early voting. Biden did not make an appearance at the Todos …

Election 2020: Trump holds rally in Greenville; some supporters ready to hear more about policy

President Donald Trump made his seventh campaign visit to North Carolina this election year to Greenville on Thursday, where he told about 1,000 supporters at Pitt-Greenville Airport to get out and vote, boasted of the number of votes he got during the 2016 election, and touted Republican plans for the country. “For years, you had a president who apologized for America. Now, you have a president who is standing up for America and standing up for the great people of North Carolina,” Trump said toward the end of his speech. “So again, this is the most important election of our lives, maybe in the history of our country. So get your friends, get your family, get your neighbors, get out and vote! The red wave is coming. The red wave is coming,” Trump said to cheers.   Supporters from Greenville and around the state began filing into the event stage on the tarmac of the airport early Thursday morning, bringing their families and friends, donning MAGA hats and outfits made out of the American flag, …

Election 2020: Trump in Winston-Salem

President Donald Trump was in Winston-Salem on Tuesday for his fourth visit to North Carolina since July, where he drew thousands of supporters from around the state. The campaign rally was held at the Smith Reynolds Regional Airport. Supporters donning Trump T-shirts, Keep America Great hats and holding up signs waited for hours for Air Force One to arrive. Trump’s speech began shortly after 7 p.m. and focused on familiar themes of his campaign this election year: Bringing jobs back to America, tax cuts, and warning the crowd against mail-in ballots. Trump criticized Gov. Roy Cooper for North Carolina’s continued lockdown and gave Lt. Gov. Dan Forest a boost for his run for the state’s top office. Trump was also in Florida on Tuesday. “I just left Florida. We’re going to win Florida,” he said to the North Carolina crowd to cheers. Check out the photo gallery by Karen Tam.

Marc Dreyfors’ Eco-Innovations

Behind a small, nondescript building in Efland, a gravel driveway reveals an old textiles manufacturing warehouse, biodiesel production tanks and rows of vegetables at the Orange County Eco-Innovations Park. A fleet of buses that run on biodiesel sit across from the warehouse. “This pink party bus runs green!” whimsical slogans on the front say. “We are a revolution in motion!” Because of the coronavirus, the buses have been out of commission, and the Eco-Innovations Park’s founder and General Manager Marc Dreyfors is busy working to to keep his nonprofits and businesses afloat. “That was a blow to us,” Dreyfors said of the buses. Walking across the sun-baked grounds toward potted hemp plants and rows of vegetables, Dreyfors stops to examine the squashes and help a worker fix a stand of tomatoes that have drooped over. Dreyfors’ main enterprise is the nonprofit, The Forest Foundation, which he founded in 2001. It’s the umbrella organization for Carolina Biofuels, Greenway Transit, Green Tracks, Forests of the World, and the newest business, CannDo CBD Oil. After a grant application …

The fight for the West Point on the Eno

Every year, thousands of Durham residents flock to the West Point on the Eno Park for the annual Eno River festival, to look at crafts, eat food, listen to music, and even take a dip in the river itself. But with a dense residential development planned for nearby, some neighbors are sounding the alarm that the project could ruin the park, and damage the health of the Eno River. Sun Forest Systems, a Chapel Hill-based custom design and building company, wants to build “Westpoint at Eno,” with 278 townhomes and 101 single-family homes. The 94-acre site runs along the south of the West Point on the Eno park, with an entrance on North Roxboro Road. The development would build over Black Meadow Ridge, an area that is a buffer between the West Point park and neighborhoods. Black Meadow Ridge has been under discussion for possible conservation over the years. “We had heard about this just through word of mouth,” said Chris Hodgson, who lives in one of the neighborhoods right behind Black Meadow Ridge. Hodgson …

Seafood in the summer

By Matt Goad A door slams shut behind a satisfied customer and another door opens with a new customer not far behind. This happens all day long, three days a week in the small, cinder-block shack that houses Tom Robinson’s Carolina Seafood of Carrboro. With a small staff, the business manages to get to the North Carolina coast every Wednesday to get fish and shellfish to sell in the Piedmont on the weekend. It brings in salmon from Nova Scotia, and some oysters from Virginia, depending on the season, but almost everything comes from North Carolina. Manager Salvador Bonilla generally travels to Morehead City, Swansboro and Beaufort to deal with the local anglers there. Tom Robinson started the business in Chapel Hill in 1975, selling from the back of a truck parked at Pantana Bob’s bar on Rosemary Street. Bonilla has managed the business for the last 16 years. He didn’t know much about the fish business at the time. He worked as a chef at Vespa, the defunct Italian restaurant on Franklin Street, and …

Photo gallery: Scenes in downtown Chapel Hill

UNC students working on Franklin Street. The margaritas at Bandido’s. Murals in hidden places. The photos covering the walls of Sutton’s Drug Store. Some things have not changed in downtown Chapel Hill. Long-time photographer Karen Tam, who has worked for The News & Observer and The Raleigh Times, and freelanced for The Associated Press, spent a recent Friday afternoon capturing the goings-on. See the photos here.   Click on the thumbnails for larger images.