This fall season the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of North Carolina Asheville is offering senior adults a wealth of programs and events in addition to its popular College for Seniors, which is getting under way next week.

From a behind-the-scenes glimpse of upcoming productions of the North Carolina Stage to lunch hour lectures and musical performances, the calendar is filled with intriguing choices that include relevant learning opportunities.

“This is a lifeline for people,” says Catherine Frank, executive director of OLLI.

While there are many places to learn and find information on senior issues, OLLI offers a community connection, which is especially important for those who have relocated to Asheville, she remarks. 

“I think it’s a rich environment,” Franks says of the varied programs and classes at OLLI and the atmosphere at the Reuter Center where most take place.

“If you spend any time at the Reuter Center … you will meet many people who see retirement as a time to ‘follow their passion,’ although passion in retirement may look a little different than it does in earlier stages in our lives,” Frank observes.

One upcoming program that Frank is especially excited about is Symphony Talks featuring the new conductor of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, Darko Butorac, who will discuss how the orchestra prepares for concerts and ways to listen to performances. On Friday, Sept. 14 at 1:30 p.m.

Butorac will focus on Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Prelude and "Liebestod,"  Liszt’s Piano Concert No. 1 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 with George Li, piano soloist. This presentation takes place at the Manheimer Room in the Reuter Center.

Beginning Friday, Sept. 7 at 1:30 p.m., seniors can enjoy another regular musical program, Midday Music with chamber music group Pan Harmonica, also at the Manheimer Room in the Reuter Center.

On Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m., the Fab Fridays Lunch and Learn Lecture series begins with “The Hitler Years through the Eyes of a Child,” a presentation by the daughter of a member of the resistance movement in World War II. 

The weekly lunch and learn series continues throughout the fall with other programs focusing on health, international politics and other topics of interest. On Oct. 26, geriatrician David Mouw will discuss issues of aging in his presentation, “Medicine for Old Age; Staying Healthy While Preparing to Die.”

A noted Cherokee storyteller, Lloyd Arneach, will present humorous and informative stories that he has collected at the conclusion of the fall lunch and learn series on Nov. 2.

Both OLLI members and guests are invited to the lunch and learn presentations, which include question-and-answer sessions. This lecture series also takes place in the Reuter Center’s Manheimer Room. 

Among other special events that OLLI offers is an Advance Care Planning Workshop featuring an experienced panel that will address end-of-life issues, an art bazaar showcasing members’ talents and reader’s theater performances by the Autumn Players.

There are also many associated programs open to seniors including meetings of the Astronomy Club and Audubon Society and World Affairs Council lectures. OLLI members receive a discount on WAC annual membership fee. For non-members, there is a $10 fee at the door. For more details about programs, consult the WAC website, www.main.nc.us/wac/.

While most of the special events and programs are open to non-members, a $25 membership fee to join OLLI does ensure access to all and also permits people to register for classes offered at the College for Seniors. Registration for winter classes begins in early November. For OLLI members, there is an additional parking fee of $125.

For more information, visit the website at www.olliasheville.com or call 828-251-6140.

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