A! Magazine for the Arts

The Big Read celebrates "Earthsea' in Washington County

September 26, 2017

The Washington County Public Library celebrates the magical by exploring Ursula K. Le Guin's "A Wizard of Earthsea" during The Big Read. The events range from a symphonic tribute to "Fantasia" by the Symphony of the Mountains, to a keynote address by Charles Vess, writing, art, video game character design and world-building workshops, art exhibits, fantasy movie series, special events for children and more.

The celebration kicks off Oct. 7 from 3-5 p.m., on the campus commons at Virginia Highlands Community College. In case of inclement weather, the celebration moves into the lobby of the Keyser-Aday Theatre. During the kick-off celebration, attendees pick up a free copy of "A Wizard of Earthsea" and free comics from Mountain Empire Comics. A roving juggler, Celtic harpist, poets and cosplayers entertain during the event. A book fair is also held. Other offerings include crafts and activities for children, door prizes and refreshments.

The following day, Oct. 8 at 3 p.m., Charles Vess speaks at the library in Abingdon, Virginia. Vess, an internationally-acclaimed fantasy artist, is creating new illustrations for the 50th anniversary re-issue of Ursula K. Le Guin's "Earthsea" series. He discusses his journey through Earthsea with Le Guin and the challenges of translating her vision into an illustrated world.

The Symphony of the Mountains performs "Fantasia" Oct. 29 at the McGlothlin Center for the Arts on the Emory & Henry campus at 3 p.m. Many adults remember the sense of wonder when they first experienced "Fantasia" as children. The symphony recreates that magical feeling for a new generation as they bring a live symphony together with movie clips from the Disney classic films "Fantasia" and "Fantasia 2000." There is also an instrument petting zoo and music and book displays. The following day free concerts for school children are held.

New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Estep speaks about building a world for your characters to inhabit at the Washington County Public Library in Abingdon, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. She is theauthor of the"Elemental Assassin"urban fantasy series,the"Black Blade"young adult urban fantasy, the"Mythos Academy"young adult urban fantasy series and the"Bigtime"paranormal romance series.

Marie and Brian Bridgeforth lead a video game character design workshop at the Glade Spring branch library, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 7.

William King Museum of Art hosts two workshops during the celebration: Fairy House Workshop and Clay Dragons Workshop. Participants gather materials from the museum grounds and use them to create a house for a fairy, Oct. 14 from 1-4 p.m. Participants use different sculpting techniques to create a dragon out of clay, Oct. 21 from 1-3 p.m.

A fantasy movie series is held Mondays at 7:30 p.m., at the Abingdon Cinemall, beginning Oct. 2 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Other movies in the series include "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Stardust," "Maleficent" and "Cinderella." Free to WCPL cardholders and the students and staffs of Virginia Highlands Community College, Emory & Henry College, King University and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. Tickets are $7.75 if you don't meet one of these criteria. Movies are also shown at all library locations throughout The Big Read.

Other programs include Tai Chi at the Glade Spring branch library, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. Art exhibits are held at the Glade Spring and Damascus branch libraries. Craft programs are held at all library locations. Create crafts inspired by the world of fantasy. Special fantasy story times are held for children. Book discussions are held at all library locations and the Boys and Girls Club of Abingdon. Other programs are also held throughout the community.

The wizard school in "A Wizard of Earthsea" is considered to be the precursor for Harry Potter's Hogwarts. It also deals with themes of coming of age, Eastern philosophies, the temptations of power and pride and maintaining a natural balance.

The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The Bristol Herald Courier and the Washington County News are media sponsors.

Events are free with the exception of the Symphony of the Mountains Oct. 29 concert, which is free for students and $20 for the public.

For more information, visit www.wcpl.net for a complete schedule.