Lecturer Describes Origin of Burrell Telescope

Drawing of 36-inch refracting telescope at Lic...

Drawing of 36-inch refracting telescope at Lick Observatory. Objective lens made by Alvan Clark & Sons; mount by Warner & Swasey Company. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Award-winning author and historian Trudy E. Bell presented on “The Great Telescope Race and the Warner and Swasey Company” Friday, February 17 as part of a Burrell Memorial Observatory open house.

Bell is the former editor for Scientific American and IEEE Spectrum, and currently holds the position of senior writer for the University of California High-Performance AstroCom-puting Center.

She has published over 500 articles in national, regional, and specialized publications, and has authored, co-authored, or edited a dozen books. Bell holds a master’s degree in history of science from New York University and a bachelor’s in history, with a physics minor from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Her presentation focused on 19th-century American telescope manufacturers Alvan Clark and the duo of Worcester Warner and Ambrose Swasey, who pushed the United States ahead of Europe in a telescope build-off that Bell called the “Victorian Space Race.”

Warner and Swasey, builders of some of the largest refracting telescopes of their time, also affected the Cleveland area, especially the designs of telescopes at Case Western Reserve University and Baldwin-Wallace College.

Though they originally started their business in Chicago, Warner and Swasey realized they needed to move farther east, toward the location of their company. They moved to Cleveland, and at the high point of their business the company employed 6,200 people.

The buildings at East 55th Street and Carnegie Avenue are still standing, though empty now.

“They also believed in giving back to Cleveland,” Bell said.

The Warner and Swasey Observatory at Case started with the donation of a 9 1/2 inch refracting telescope that was originally Warner and Swasey’s private telescope that stood behind their adjacent Cleveland residences.

The Burrell Memorial Observatory on B-W’s North Quad was donated by the wife of Dr. Edward P. Burrell, a 37-year engineer at the Warner and Swasey Company. The telescope is a “typical Warner and Swasey,” as Bell calls it: a 13 3/8 inch refracting telescope with their signature tapered rectangular mount.

It is one of the biggest in the area, with the next telescope only coming in at 10 1/2 inches at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Ralph Mueller Observatory.

This was Bell’s second time at B-W, the first in 2001 with the Antique Telescope Society.

“I saw an article in Sky and Telescope magazine, then looked at the byline and saw she was from Cleveland. I thought it would be a great opportunity for an open house,” said Gary Kader, astronomy professor and the man in charge of the open house. A native of Washington State, Bell currently reside in Lakewood.

Upon her departure, Bell left these words of advice for students at Baldwin-Wallace College: “Think creatively about what you want to end up doing. Don’t slot yourself so narrowly. Don’t underestimate the value of having interesting ideas.” She speaks from personal experience. Bell began as a physics major in order to become an astronomer, but became more interested in history while working at the Lick Observatory in California, and now works not as an astronomer, but as a science writer.

Following the talk, the observatory was open to the public if only to see the famous telescope, since a layer of cloud cover had moved in, making the night sky difficult to see.

Published in the Feb. 24, 2012 edition of The Exponent student newspaper at Baldwin-Wallace College


Music Program Is One Of The Best Kept Secrets

When asked to write this article, I had a difficult time getting started. This year has been rather hectic on my part, with all the insanity of senior responsibilities, and the idyllic image I had of being a senior when I was a freshman has faded to reality– senior year really isn’t easy and all fun and games.

As a freshman, I had a fantastic beginning to my high school career. I came in through the band program, which automatically lends itself to fostering camaraderie through a week of living together at band camp. It also upped the school spirit, since there was such a vast amount of friendly competition for spirit points. Both of these concepts continued through the year. It was exactly how I pictured high school, and it was a blast. The same was true of sophomore year. There was so much positive energy throughout the building.

It seemed like things started to decline, however. Junior year was a little frustrating. There were so many new students, and not just freshman. Students from other schools– Euclid, Cleveland, Warrensville– started to filter into the school. While the quality of the education was still wonderful, the quality of the students themselves started dropping. There was less respect towards other students who were simply trying to help, and towards teachers and administrators. Apathy began to take over, and it really started to affect the positive atmosphere that was established.

Rewards and benefits began to disappear due to the behavior issues and academic problems. They affected not only the students causing the problems, but also the students who were doing all the right things. Classes started to get frustrating because the majority of students, even in honors classes and elite groups, really didn’t care.

This mentality has only seemed to intensify this year. Disrespect abounds, and work ethic appears to be nonexistent. And while Mr. Vawters is attempting to bring back that culture of excellence, students are resisting the change. It’s certainly disheartening. That’s why I hit a wall when I started this.

After some thought, though (much of which probably wasn’t very positive), I had an epiphany. And I had to beat myself up for not pulling the string on the light bulb earlier.

From my perspective, one of the best things about Bedford High School is the music department. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized this earlier, since I spend at least half my day in this branch of the school. With a variety of music groups, music classes, and venues throughout the year, there’s something for everyone, and all the ensembles, classes, and performances are fantastic. But our music program is also one of the best kept secrets in the district.

The music program, unlike most of the departments and organizations in the school, doesn’t shut down during certain seasons. Sports rotate seasons, but there isn’t a single sport that plays all year round. Sure, other departments might give homework over breaks and vacations, but there aren’t any organized classes. In contrast, the music department, particularly the band, has only a short break between the end of school and the beginning of their next season. Marching season begins about half way through the summer with band camp, and rehearsals and performances continue through the rest of the summer and on to the end of football season. But it doesn’t end here. Concert season starts, as well as jazz and blues, and mid-season, the pit orchestra for the musical begins. These overlap with the vocal music department, which incorporates many instrumentalists as well. Most of the students in the music program are involved in multiple ensembles, which means an overlap of rehearsals in a single day or week. There are very few instances where these situations happen in other organizations.

It’s strange that the caliber of the music groups is such a secret. Not only are these students some of the hardest and longest working students in the school, but they are also the most visible in the community. From the football field to the stage to the streets and communities of the Bedford City School District and beyond, ensembles in the music program have performed all over the area. Wherever they go, the bands, the orchestra, and the choirs create beautiful music and leave smiles on the faces of the audiences. They provide entertainment for half-time shows. They keep the beat in parades. They sing carols in multiple venues during Christmas. And the musical incorporates dozens of students to put on an extraordinary show every spring.

Yet these ensembles and events fall into the background, overshadowed by sports, testing, and dress codes, and are truly suffering from a lack of funding. Audiences are generally small, and there is very little support from the community. Instruments and other equipment are old and falling apart, and replacements are usually expensive. This is an unfortunate fate for such a fantastic program. Perhaps a little more publicity and more donations could help. These programs foster such a sense of responsibility, companionship, and culture, it would be a shame to see them disappear.

Music is an integral part of humanity, affecting everyday lives in a variety of ways. Music is used as communication and as art, even as a business and to make a living. It’s been proven to boost IQ and to affect mood. The process of creating music takes a certain type of person, and the students in Bedford High’s music program are just that type. They’ve become adept at bringing melodies to the masses, and I truly believe that this program is one of the brightest highlights of Bedford High School.

L.E.L. Choral Festival A Huge Success

Students from all over Northeast Ohio gathered at Bedford High School on Wednesday, February 16, for the annual Lake Erie League Choral Festival. Choirs from Euclid, Warrensville Heights, Shaw, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, Mentor, and Bedford each performed as a school. Later in the festival, all the choirs combined to form a mass choir of 350 students, singing 3 extraordinary pieces with largely diverse styles and backgrounds. It was a normal festival in respect to the actual performance. But the preparation this year was tremendously different.

L.E.L. directors wanted to return it to its previous format. Decades ago, students had the privilege of attending a clinic taught by a prominent guest director prior to the performance. Not only did students rehearse the group pieces, but they also learned techniques and styles that could better them as singers. That’s just what happened this year.

Mr. Frank Bianchi– retired high school teacher and director of award winning high school choirs, professor at Baldwin-Wallace College, founder of the Baldwin-Wallace Men’s Chorus, in his sixth season as director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, and his second year as Assistant Director of the Cleveland Orchestra Choruses– took the podium after a warm welcome from Bedford High principal, Mr. Samuel Vawters. With a little humor and some crazy but effective vocal warm-ups, he captured the students’ attention and began an afternoon full of music and camaraderie.

From the time students arrived at Bedford High School at one o’clock until dinner time at five, the choirs ran through the mass pieces. The auditorium was filled with a plethora of sounds, from animal calls and native chants to soulful gospel chords to soaring poetic farewells. Silence fell when Mr. Bianchi spoke, and remained until the next note left the singers’ lips. Measure by measure, phrase by phrase, the separate songs practiced by multiple choirs merged into one body of multiple tones, much as the people behind the voices had intermingled to create the mass choir. Students from different schools stood side by side to create the same melodic masterpieces.

After a break to eat and change into concert attire, the choirs returned to the auditorium to take the stage as individual schools. The techniques learned in rehearsal were put into practice as each choir demonstrated its talent. Spirituals rang out from the risers; Latin prose haunted the corners; Hebrew and Mongolian were heard in the same venue. Not a word was spoken as the choirs performed, and a round of enthusiastic applause rose in each one’s wake, demonstrating the respect that had been fostered throughout the afternoon.

Bedford closed the first half, and then a brief intermission allowed students to meld back into the mass choir. Mr. Bianchi took over, and invited the audience to a journey through the rain forest with “Tres Cantos Nativos”, arranged by Marcos Leite, a piece inspired by the native tribes living along a river in Brazil. Utilizing a variety of different vocal sounds, instruments, and physical actions, the piece created the atmospheric effects of being in the jungle. “After the concert, I had so many people come up to me and tell me that the CD accompaniment really made this song enjoyable,” said Bedford director Gary Kaplan, “so you can imagine their faces when I told them it was the students making the sounds.” The wildlife faded into a tribute to the passing of people and events throughout one’s life. “Omnia Sol”, or “Everywhere Light”, by Z. Randall Stroope, combined Latin and English in an ode to the experiences and interactions that make being human memorable. The airy melody was a sharp contrast to the third song, “Praise His Holy Name” by Keith Hampton, a rousing, spirited gospel song. As Mr. Bianchi told the kids, “It should make you think of good old Sunday-mornin’ preachin’!” It certainly had the audience clapping along.

As is tradition for many choirs, the performance ended with the timeless “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”. However, there was nothing traditional about it as 350 members sang the final song in what was a very successful production. The motto of Bedford High School is “Working to build a culture of excellence.” According to Mr. Vawters, “If we’re talking about building a culture of excellence, this festival and all these choirs definitely demonstrated doing just that.” And in every minute of the festival, from rehearsal to departure, excellence certainly was displayed.

It was a wonderful show of talent and hard work from all the choirs, and certainly worthy of praise. “Great choral music is alive and well in Cleveland. The L.E.L. Choral Festival was living proof of what can happen when talented young adults from different schools and communities, different faiths, different political affiliations, different cultures, different economic backgrounds and different abilities come together for a common cause. The results were breathtaking and a good lesson for all of us to learn about commitment, dedication, hard work, sharing, discipline and respect. I’m proud of each of the 350 students who participated,” said the very impressed and exuberant guest director.

This event was the epitome of unity and multiculturalism, a peaceful collaboration of such a diverse group. It truly seemed to prove the idea that music really is a universally understood language and way of life that anyone can become a part of.


–Caelie Orlosky