Wilton gets ‘jazzed’ for Wilton Reads 2020
WILTON — Almost everything this year, it seems, is turning up jazz in Wilton.
There is Wilton jazz legend Dave Brubeck’s centennial and last week’s news that his archives will come to reside at Wilton Library.
This year’s Scholarly Series, a collaboration between Wilton Library and the Wilton Historical Society, explores The History of Jazz in America.
And now, the library and Wilton School District are putting jazz under the lens of Wilton Reads 2020.
Library Executive Director Elaine Tai-Lauria and Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith announced at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting that the Wilton Reads book will be F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tales of the Jazz Age.” This compendium of short stories delves into American social life and customs during the 20th century using the backdrop of jazz. The Jazz Age world that Fitzgerald so aptly evokes appears in his later masterpiece, “The Great Gatsby.”
“With the great jazz musician, composer and educator Dave Brubeck’s centennial, and the fact that he lived right here in Wilton where we have the Brubeck Room named for the Brubeck family, and now the Brubeck Collection is coming to the library, it’s all about jazz this year — from its contribution to music, to American culture, to social issues and justice,” Tai-Lauria said in a statement.
At the board meeting she spoke of how the acquisition of the Dave Brubeck collection influenced the library’s choice to focus on Fitzgerald.
“It is one of the finest jazz collections in the world,” she said.
“Wilton Library’s mission is to inform, enrich, inspire and connect our community,” she said, noting this collection of short stories would be used as a springboard to do just that.
Board member Glenn Hemmerle said the acquisition of the Brubeck collection was “an incredible coup ... I think people will come from all over the world to research and explore it ... It really is a remarkable achievement. It’s incredible. He was a prince of a man.”
Smith also lauded the Wilton Reads choice.
“The rich conversations, discussions and programming for the entire community including all of our students made this an easy decision. We’ll be able to engage our students on so many levels — from relatable topics such as youthfulness, innocence, dreams and aspirations to the sheer joy of listening to music. We have been working with Miller/Driscoll, Cider Mill, Middlebrook and Wilton High School administrators and teachers to develop robust programming.”
As with all Wilton Reads events, free books will be given away this spring at the library courtesy of Fairfield County Bank, so that the community can become familiar with Fitzgerald’s short stories. Complementary activities include book talks, films, music appreciation and historical context programming.
Fran Kompar, the district’s director of digital learning, will lead the school initiative and said teachers will select age-appropriate materials for their classes. High school students will read “Tales of the Jazz Age.”
She said a task force had been established, including music teachers, to create events and activities around the book starting in March. “You might say we’re jazzed about the many opportunities,” she said.
Details of the library’s programming may be viewed at www.wiltonlibrary.org in February. The book giveaway date also will be posted shortly. The school district’s programming details may be found by visiting wiltonps.org.
This is the library’s 14th season of Wilton Reads. The program originated with a reading of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. A complete list of all the books read can be found at www.wiltonlibrary.org/past-wilton-reads-selections.