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Concert, Historic House and Garden Tour to Benefit Bedford Hills Free Library

Tickets are still available for the June 3 event.

Use of the is at an all-time high and services are more critical than ever—but funds are needed to keep them at current levels, says Heide Shilstone, president of the library board of trustees.

"People depend on the library," she said. "To take out books, DVDs and look for jobs and use a computer. The services we provide are vital and we're trying not to make any cuts."

All three of the town's libraries encountered a from the town in 2010 and since then, programs have been maintained at BHFL but some staff hours and benefits have been cut and less money has been spent on new acquisitions, according to Shilstone.

"That's why we're really excited about this benefit because it's a terrific event that takes place in Bedford Corners, which is part of our service district," she said.

Two local musical luminaries will perform at Copland House at Merestead’s series finale on Sunday at 3 p.m., part of an afternoon that includes a luncheon and tour of the Merestead historic mansion, a 1907 Georgian Revival home.

The performance, "Strings, Mallets, Hammers and Ivory," features Artistic and Executive Director of Copland House Michael Boriskin playing piano with Michael Barrett, chief executive and general director of

Merestead (a Scottish term for farmland) is the manor house of a 130-acre dairy farm, the country home of William Sloane, president of the W & J Sloane Furniture Company. The 26-room mansion has aged gracefully, and commands sweeping views of Westchester. Many artifacts from the family’s home remain and a two-story servants’ wing evokes shades of “Downton Abbey.”

The third floor houses an unusual collection of letters from U.S. presidents, from George Washington to George W. Bush, Sr., with the sole omission of Warren Harding. Beginning with Grover Cleveland, these letters are personally written to members of the Sloane family.

Sloane’s son-in-law and daughter, Dr. and Mrs. Robert L. Patterson, Jr., donated the property to Westchester County “so that present and future generations …will be able to use, see, and enjoy it.” In 2009 Copland House joined with Westchester County to establish a creative center at Merestead, an extension of the musical educational programs at the Cortlandt Manor home of Aaron Copland.

The June 3 performance of Strings, Mallets, Hammers, and Ivory will feature Jalbert, Wallace, and Bartok’s Sonata for two pianos and percussion.

Shilstone had the idea for the event after she and her husband selected a hike of the property from the book, Walkable Westchester, which she had given to him as a gift. Entranced with what she called "a wonderful local resource," she made one phone call and the event planning began.

"See?" she said. "It all goes back to a book."

Tickets are $100 tickets ($75 for seniors and students) includes a noon – 4:30 p.m. afternoon of luncheon in the Merestead dining room, a tour of the house and gardens, the concert in the barn and a reception with the musicians. For tickets, call (914) 666-6472 or go to www.bedfordhillsfreelibrary.org.

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