AT THE ACADEMY: A ROUNDUP OF FREE EVENTS

Harmony, chocolate and desert critters

2013-05-02T00:00:00Z Harmony, chocolate and desert critters Arizona Daily Star
May 02, 2013 12:00 am

Tuesday

Desert Harmony Chorus sets show

The award-winning Tucson Desert Harmony Chorus will bring its barbershop-style, four-part harmony to the Arizona Senior Academy at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The all-woman group is a local chapter of Sweet Adelines International, which holds annual regional and international competitions.

At the recent four-state competition in Pasadena, Calif., the chorus placed first in the midsized (55 singers) and quartet divisions and second overall, under the direction of Karen Meade, who earned a master director certification.

The chorus has been entertaining audiences in Tucson with familiar tunes as well as contemporary music since 1986, when it began as the Good Time Singers. The name was changed in 2005 to reflect the musicians' love of harmony and connection to the region.

The large chorus draws women from the entire Tucson area, but it also forms smaller groups to suit the needs of the venue for local performances. About 20 singers will be singing at Academy Village.

Wednesday

Effect of chocolate focus of expert's talk

The Aztecs called chocolate the food of the gods. Today, mere mortals claim it as a feel-good food they can't live without.

What is it about chocolate that creates pleasurable sensations and makes some people crave it? Can eating a chocolate a day keep the blues away?

To answer those questions, Douglas L. Taren, professor of public health and associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Arizona, will discuss the complex properties of dark chocolate and its effects on brain metabolism Wednesday at the Arizona Senior Academy.

The talk, which begins at 3:30 p.m., will be sweetened by a tasting of dark varietal chocolates with a cacao content of 68 percent and higher. Like wines, Taren says, varietal chocolates have distinctive flavor profiles and terroirs.

Taren's field is international health with a focus on maternal and child nutrition. His interest in chocolate was sparked by Kristen Morris, a former graduate student of his, who discovered that chocolate cravings are more common in women than men. Although Morris didn't care for chocolate herself, she was intrigued by how foods affect mood and decided to research the chemistry of chocolate for her master's thesis, "Chocolate: Food or Drug?"

The short answer is, it's both. The urge to eat chocolate has similarities to alcohol or nicotine addiction.

Could chocolate help a smoker quit the habit? A new study under way at the UA College of Public Health is exploring the possibility. People who call the ASHLine will be advised of the study by a "quit coach" and given the option to participate.

May 9

Desert creatures coming to Village

Wildlife of the Sonora Desert will be featured at Academy Village next Thursday in a program called "Meet the Neighbors."

At 2:15 and again at 3:30, staff educator Jesus Manuel Garcia will introduce desert dwellers from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. A ringtail, a barn owl, a desert tortoise and a tarantula will be among the animals Garcia will bring. Seating is limited for both shows, and advance registration is required (see About Academy Village).

Garcia, a native of Sonora, Mexico, has a degree in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Arizona. He has been associated with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum since 1991, first as a volunteer, then as an education specialist.

About Academy Village

• Events are in the Great Room of the Arizona Senior Academy Building adjacent to the Academy Village Community Center, 13715 E. Langtry Lane.

• Nonresidents who want to ensure priority seating can make reservations by emailing info@arizonasenioracademy.org or calling 647-0980.

• To learn more about the academy, go to www.asa-tucson.org online.

• Visitors can buy lunch at the Academy Cafe across the courtyard from the Arizona Senior Academy Building. The cafe is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. Prices range from $4.50 to $9.50. For more information, call the cafe at 647-0903.

• Academy Village is an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East. Its residents support the Arizona Senior Academy, a nonprofit charitable organization whose mission includes offering free concerts and lectures to the public.

- Betty Feinberg - Caroline Bates - Beverly Robertson

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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