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July 14th: An Afternoon of Art & Music at Heartstrings Academy by Susanna Robinson-Kenga

Some of my favorite people in the musical community of our lovely ‘Burg are putting on a little show, An Afternoon of Art and Music at HeartStrings Academy on Sunday, July 14, featuring just about the sweetest guy around, none-other than Thomas Ball, amazing classical/jazz guitarist, who will perform works for solo guitar by Francisco Tarrega, Scott Joplin, Claude Debussy, J.S. Bach and other composers from the Baroque Era to the 20th Century. Sponsored by my under-renovation home-away-from-home, The Casasanta Foundation, presenting the second in a series of concerts and art openings. (The Casasanta Foundation is a non-profit corporation based in Lewisburg, WV, which supports, and is supported by, local artists and musicians. Your contributions are deductible under sec 501-c-3 of the IRC. Check them out at The event will also feature sculptures Environmental Sculptor, Jessica Levine, whose work is inspired by and accompanied by objects found in the natural world.

Thomas Ball, (whose father is a fine guitarist I played music with a thousand years ago in college), has been making a bit of a name for himself in the area. A Lewisburg native who has found his way home to us, Ball teaches classical guitar, mandolin, and music theory at his private studio in Lewisburg, and at Heartstrings Academy. He once made a memorable appearance at Carnegie Hall’s Speakeasy (backing up the ever-misguided and flamboyant ZeeZee Chenille under his alias Rutherford B. Nestlerod, along with the amazing burlesque queen Ivana Schpanken), a performance that was not to be missed! He has also performed at The Greenbrier Sporting Club, WVSOM, and Trillium Arts Collective, as well as private events throughout southeastern West Virginia.

Jessica Levine, a well-known area contemporary sculptor in our area and beyond, is equally well-known for her commitment to environmental art, local contemporabry artist Jessica Levine has been outstanding in her field for decades. As lovely as person as she is a creative force, as a studio artist, Levine researches growth, decay, transformation, and contradiction, in a variety of media. You have ALL seen her mosaic work present from Dorie Miller Park to Charleston’s Empty Glass stage backdrop, to Carnegie Hall’s hallway, to many schools, businesses and gardens. Levine defines much of her public artistry by initiating remedial land projects, including park areas, and outdoor classrooms, where harvested and living plant materials are combined with masonry sculptures to create art garden installations. In her social practice, she has led numerous collaborations that resulted in large-scale outcomes, including murals, installations, performances, publications and festivals. What has always amazed me is her ability to bring surprisingly diverse members of various communities together, everyone getting along and getting organized, to produce really remarkably noteworthy projects, which will remain for generations, hopefully. That’s a talent in itself.

The doors open at 1 pm on Sunday, July 14; the concert begins at 2 pm. This event is FREE! HeartStrings Academy is located at 151 Feamster Rd in Lewisburg, in the log cabin behind the large brick house. Light refreshments will be served.

Equally worth discussing in my little commentary is the presence of Bill DePaulo, king of CasaSanta (who supports the Arts in our community, despite obstructions, at times), Russell Fallstad (founder of HeartStrings), and the lovely and talented Amy McIntire, a musical force in her own right!

Heartstrings Academy opened in October 2012 under the direction of Russell Fallstad, a distinguished concert violinist, college professor, specialist in early childhood music education, and founder of the Fry Street Quartet, and the sweet half of The Dueling Fiddlers. Seeing almost an immediate need for a music school in Lewisburg, a small town wildly supportive of the arts, the plan was in motion. HeartStrings Academy is that new kind of learning: combining arts, movement and body work, culinary arts, and other disciplines with the goal of supporting and inspiring human expression. Says Fallstad, “HeartStrings Academy is about tapping into our innate expressiveness and developing it. It’s about removing physical and emotional barriers that block our expressiveness. It’s about creating healthy habits and developing skills that enhance our expressiveness. It’s about learning how to ‘put it out there,’ and it’s ultimately about expressing exactly who we are, in all our awesomeness!” For more info, see See their website for inspiration!
The contact person for the event is the divine Amy McIntire, who can be contacted at, or call 804-366-3078 . She is your go-to gal when it some to so many musical events. There is nobody I’d rather sing with, improvise with, or experiment musically with. A tiny dynamo, she is a joy to see, hear, and know. Just freshly back from a recording session in Nashville with Brent Fernandez and our own sweetly hoarse-voiced Anna Osborne, we are happy to see our girl back, steadfastly practicing the pedal steel and every other instrument she can get ahold of.

So let me say this: every person I have mentioned here in my Sunday afternoon journalistic musings, every single one, is someone who is dear to my heart, and who has added happiness to my musical and artistic self. Let me close with a quote by Kojiro Tomita, on this exquisitely beautiful day: “It has been said that art {and music] is a tryst, for in the joy of it maker and beholder meet.” And we have met, and we have pledged our hearts to it all…

-Susanna Robinson-Kenga (LBSPY 36, July 1-15)

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Publisher/Editor in Chief at HashtagWV | + posts

HASHTAGWV ART & ENTERTAINMENT Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Christina Entenmann-Edwards has been a WV resident since September 2008. She was born and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is no stranger to hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2006, she graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut), Cum Laude, with a B.A. in History. In 2010, she graduated with an M.B.A. from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia). In February 2012, Christina launched HashtagWV as the area’s first full-color, free arts and entertainment tabloid + online platform. Christina completed the Leadership West Virginia class of 2021, which is an innovative program that grows, engages, and mobilizes leaders to ignite a life passion to move West Virginia forward.