Wednesday, July 1, 2015

FROM THE WINGS, BY ELEANOR LONG

I'm into photojournalism this issue!

After harpist/cannoneer Heidi Soons requested that our aged electronic keyboard be retired from service this summer, clever Technical Director Colin Fletcher built this alternative. Pressing the red button triggers a (free) cannon sound harvested from the internet. Close your eyes during the 1812 Overture and you will swear Heidi muzzle-loaded a 24-pounder!
Speaking of retiring things...my mom and I made this lap harp carton travel-worthy for Rebecca Kopycinski's last few Musical Petting Zoo school visits this spring, but duct tape has its limits! Would some generous harp-lover (and/or SymphonyKids fan) want to buy us a new case for next season? It's only $140 for a custom-designed, padded case that will keep this plucky member of the Zoo safe and sound for another generation of schoolkids!  
   
Still speaking of retirement...Joy Worland, Jason Whitcomb, and Lori Salimando, a.k.a. our wonderful Fanfare Brass Trio, are all (for various reasons) leaving the group. This photo was taken at their last school show, in Londonderry, in March. Replacement musicians are in the works, and they will no doubt also rely on coffee for the long haul to early morning gigs. 
    
Surprise! Still on the topic of retirement! David Brubaker, long time principal trumpet of the VSO, came back to Vermont for a visit in May and posed with our Bruckner trumpet section.
And finally...a classic photo of Alan Jordan, an Executive Director who wasn't afraid to have fun in his job. Let's hope his successor has as good a sense of humor, for starters!
 
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Segue

It has been a busy time in the administrative offices.  Besides preparing for the annual eight-concert Summer Festival Tour, a transition in leadership is underway. Alan Jordan, who held the position of Executive Director for sixteen years, has stepped down to pursue other orchestra management opportunities. Charles Smith of Burlington has been named as Interim Executive Director. 
During his Jordan's tenure, the VSO achieved significant artistic and administrative growth. Through its first-ever endowment campaign, the Orchestra raised more than $3.5 million, at the same time the country was going through the Great Recession. Since 1999, the VSO's endowment has grown, currently standing near $4.5 million. Jordan directed efforts to acquire significant new equipment, including a new Steinway concert grand piano, a concert hall sound shell, musician chairs and stands, timpani, and two vehicles.

New media initiatives were effected, including local weekly radio broadcasts, a concert DVD, national radio broadcasts ("Performance Today"), two commercial CD projects, and an internet e-boutique. In addition, new music activities were greatly expanded, including the creation of a New Music Advisor position and the commissioning or co-commissioning of more than 30 new works.
As Interim Executive Director, Smith will guide the Vermont Symphony Orchestra as it continues its mission of fostering and encouraging the appreciation of music in all its various forms, with emphasis on orchestral, choral and chamber music, and providing high quality performances for a broad and diverse public throughout the state of Vermont.
Most recently Smith has worked with Vermont PBS in team building, strategic planning and managing the company's transition to a new permanent president and CEO. He owns and operates Charles P. Smith Management and Strategic Consulting, which specializes in business, finance and government matters, primarily in Vermont. Recent areas of project focus have included bank markets, health care reform, alternative energy, and the state 911 system. 
The Governing Board of Directors and a search committee plan to explore a full range of options as they consider Jordan's successor. Meanwhile, we all look forward to the continuation of the exceptional musical programs that the Vermont Symphony Orchestra is known to provide.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

VSO Honors Robert De Cormier as Conductor Emeritus

Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO), Vermont’s only statewide symphony orchestra, announced this week during a choral concert in Burlington, Vermont that Robert De Cormier has been honored as Conductor Emeritus, Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus. De Cormier held the position of choral conductor for twenty years having retired in 2014. 


 
Robert De Cormier and José Daniel Flores-Caraballo

Robert De Cormier has dedicated his life to music and social justice.  Following a career as an educator, composer, arranger, and director—and that included affiliations with Harry Belafonte, Peter, Paul, and Mary, the Eastman School of Music, and the New York Choral Society, among others—Robert founded the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus in 1993.  This auditioned volunteer ensemble of more than 100 comprises vocalists from across the state who shares Robert’s love of choral music.

Mr. De Cormier retired as Director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus at the end of the 2013/2014 season, and his tenure was celebrated in January 2014 in Burlington and Rutland with two remarkable and memorable performances of Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms, under his baton.
  De Cormier has been a Vermont resident for over forty years; however, his reputation is known beyond the state.  During his tenure with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the chorus has won unqualified praise.  Vermont concert goers have been treated to many significant choral works including the Requiems of Verdi, Faure, and Mozart. Many performances featured De Cormier’s personal arrangements and favorites.

“It is fitting to honor Robert De Cormier with the Orchestra’s first-ever emeritus recognition.  He has established a legacy through his forming and development of our wonderful and dedicated VSO Chorus,” remarks Alan Jordan, Executive Director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.   This honor has been heartily endorsed by Music Director Jaime Laredo, the new Director of the VSO Chorus, José Daniel Flores-Caraballo, and the staff.



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Friday, April 3, 2015

Masters in Springtime

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus will present a spring concert at 7:30 pm on Saturday, April 18, at the College Street Congregational Church, located at 265 College Street in Burlington.

“Masters in Springtime” will be conducted by José Daniel Flores- Caraballo, director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus, as his inaugural stand-alone concert.  Melissa Dickerson will accompany on piano.  Newly-appointed chorus director Flores-Caraballo comments, “The legacy of Maestro Robert De Cormier is alive, and it will be witnessed this night.”


The program features a selection of favorite master choruses of all time, including works by Bach, Handel, Brahms and Vaughan Williams.  Flores-Caraballo remarks, “The audience will enjoy a feast of the best of the best; favorite movements from all-time favorite masterworks.  It is like shopping on iTunes and making your own CD with the music you love!”


The Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus is a full chorus representing premier voices from around the state.  The Chorus performs a variety of literature both with the orchestra and with smaller instrumental complements.  “It has been a great pleasure working with these dedicated singers this season!” notes Flores-Caraballo.


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Monday, March 30, 2015

Get Ready to Bid!

We hope you will listen to one of Radio Vermont Group's eight stations around the state on April 30, 2015, so that you don't miss the 17th annual radio auction to benefit the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.

Auction items will be published in local newspapers statewide and on our website.  Past items included ski passes, travel, dinners, wine and spirits, and, of course, VSO concert tickets.  This year's items are starting to come in and, among them is a 2-night stay in Iceland!

The radio auction provides $15,000-$20,000 in support to the Vermont Symphony Orchestra each year, which is why your participation is so important and appreciated.

For the most up to date details, please visit our website.  And, don't forget to tune in on April 30th!

Radio auction volunteer, Jim Leyton, takes bids


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Friday, March 20, 2015

From the Wings; by Eleanor Long

From the Wings 
by Eleanor Long

If someone were playing a word association game with you (and you were a classical music enthusiast, which of course you are if you’re reading this!) and that someone said “Symphony No. 5,” what are the chances you would say “Beethoven”?  “Symphony No. 9”:  same answer?  Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Mahler, Schubert, and Bruckner MIGHT have hurt feelings, though, not to mention Mendelssohn and Vaughan Williams…  But while we’re playing this game, let’s go ahead and mention them!  

I’m cribbing the contents of this article from an exchange I saw on Facebook a couple months ago.  I won’t use the real names involved, in case anyone is sensitive about that stuff, but “a guy” posted the following puzzle/challenge:

If you had to pick nine symphonies by different composers to include as part of a proverbial desert island survival kit, which would they be? (Nine because nine has been kind of a magical number for symphonists ever since Beethoven stopped there.)  Here are the rules:

You can choose only one symphony per composer. 
You must choose numbered symphonies (no Symphonie fantastique, in other words). 
You cannot choose two symphonies of the same number by different composers. 

Here are what sixteen FB friends replied:

1) Brahms
2) Sibelius
3) Mahler
4) Nielsen
5) Prokofiev
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Shostakovich
8) Bruckner
9) Schubert

1) Elgar
2) Rachmaninov
3) Brahms
4) Nielsen
5) Sibelius
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Bruckner
8) Mahler
9) Schubert

1)Fisher Tull
2) Mahler
3) Copland
4) Nielsen
5) Shostakovich
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Beethoven
8) Bruckner
9) Schubert

1)  Howard Hanson
2) Mahler
3) Brahms
4) Nielsen (love the lyricism)
5) Mendelssohn
6) Beethoven (ditto)
7) Vaughan Williams
8) Bruckner
9) Shostakovich

1) Mahler
2) Brahms
3) Copland
4) Nielsen
5) Prokofiev
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Shostakovich
8) Bruckner
9) Beethoven

1) Kalinnikov
2) Sibelius
3) Prokofiev
4) Nielsen
5) Mahler
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Bruckner
8) Shostakovich
9) Beethoven

1) Brahms
2) Mahler
3) Copland
4) Ives
5) Sibelius
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Shostakovich
8) Dvorak
9) Beethoven

1) Barber (wonderful, compact piece)
2) Sibelius (the last movement is the most uplifting thing I’ve ever heard)
3) Copland
4) Nielsen
5) Prokofiev
6) Dvorak
7) Beethoven (even though no trombones)
8) Schubert
9) Bruckner (awesome scherzo)

1) Elgar
2) Brahms
3) Saint-Saëns
4) Vaughan Williams
5) Mahler
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Bruckner
8) Dvorak
9) Schubert

1) Mahler
2) Brahms
3) Saint-Saëns
4) Shostakovich
5) Beethoven
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Sibelius
8) Dvorak
9) Schubert

1) Elgar
2) Sibelius
3) Copland
4) Shostakovich
5) Beethoven
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Vaughan Williams
8) Dvorak
9) Mahler

1) Sibelius (not the best first, just my favorite)
2) Rachmaninov
3) Beethoven (the best)
4) Nielsen
5) Shostakovich
6) Mahler (larger than life)
7) Bruckner
8) Schubert
9) Everybody!!!!



1) Bruckner
2) Elgar
3) Beethoven
4) Franz Schmidt
5) Vaughan Williams
6) Mahler
7) Sibelius
8) Shostakovich
9) Schubert

1) Sibelius
2) Brahms
3) Mahler
4) Beethoven
5) Prokofiev
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Shostakovich
8) Dvorak
9) Schubert

1) Brahms
2) Sibelius
3) Mahler
4) Vaughan Williams
5) Prokofiev
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Shostakovich
8) Bruckner
9) Beethoven

1) Corigliano
2) Sibelius (I’m a sucker for the mood changes)
3) Mahler (the biggest, baddest symphony in the standard repertoire!)
4) Shostakovich (quirky in all the right ways)
5) Prokofiev (one hell of a fun ride)
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Bruckner
8) Haydn (thrilled to find a spot for the guy who basically invented symphonies)
9) Beethoven (have to have something triumphant and life-affirming to play on my island!)

Okay, without looking back, can you guess “winners” for each number in this opinion poll?  Here they are:

1) Brahms
2) Sibelius
3) Copland
4) Nielsen
5) Prokofiev
6) Tchaikovsky
7) Shostakovich
8) tie between Dvorak and Bruckner
9) Schubert

Roll over, Beethoven!  So sorry, Ludwig—you got a lot of votes, though.  The runaway winner was Tchaikovsky’s Sixth, with 12 votes out of 16.  And…good news!  We are playing it next season!  Along with three other high-ranking contestants:  Beethoven’s Fifth, Dvorak’s Eighth, and Brahms’ First. 


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Monday, March 9, 2015

VSO's New Music Advisor David Ludwig Scores Major Motion Picture


Classical music composer David Ludwig has written the original score to director Michael Almereyda's new feature film Cymbeline, an explosive modern-day drama based on Shakespeare's play by the same name. Academy Award nominees Ethan Hawke (Best Supporting Actor, Training Day, 2001) and Ed Harris (Best Actor, Pollock, 2000) lead a powerhouse cast including Milla Jovovich, John Leguizamo, Penn Badgley, Dakota Johnson and Anton Yelchin, with Bill Pullman and Delroy Lindo in a gritty story of a take-no-prisoners war between dirty cops and an outlaw biker gang. Oscar-winning Anthony Katagas (12 Years a Slave, Killing Them Softly) is producing the film for Keep Your Head Productions alongside Michael Benaroya (Margin Call, Lawless, The Words) for Benaroya Pictures. Although Ludwig has composed for documentaries and animated shorts, Cymbeline marks the feature-length film-scoring debut for the composer.This project represented a musical transition from concert stage to big screen for Ludwig, who is on the composition faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and has written for numerous major orchestras and some of the top performers in classical music today. 

Film director Michael Almereyda commented: "Having listened to a number of his orchestral pieces, I knew David could write music with complexity, depth and emotional power. The question was, could he harness these qualities in a film score, following the fixed contours of given scenes? Could he write dramatic music that rides the wave of the film's dialogue and action? His score for Cymbeline demonstrates that he can do exactly that, very capably, often brilliantly."

 "Writing for film requires a very different sense of timing and pacing, great flexibility, a handle on technology, and strong communication skills," said Ludwig. "But it is equally rewarding in so many ways. There's nothing quite like seeing the finished picture with your music framing the richness of each scene."
Cymbeline was a recent feature at the Venice Film Festival in September 2014 and was nominated for the Venice Horizons Award. This is Almereyda's second modern-day adaption of Shakespeare. In 2000, he directed the highly acclaimed Hamlet, with Ethan Hawke in the title role.

Preserving the original language and plot lines of Shakespeare's "Cymbeline," the film is a fresh take on a universal story of love, betrayal and revenge. Cymbeline the movie opens on March 13, 2015 in theaters and on Video On Demand.

David Ludwig (b. 1972) is "a composer with something urgent to say" (Philadelphia Inquirer). An award winning and highly sought after composer, Ludwig's recent concert commissions include those from Carnegie Hall, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Ravinia Music Festival, among many others. His latest recording Two x Four on Cedille Records was released in April 2014 to great acclaim, and the CD was nominated for a Grammy Award in multiple categories. In 2013 his choral work, The New Colossus, was selected to open the private prayer service for President Obama and his cabinet at his second Inauguration. NPR Music named Ludwig as one of the "Top 100 Composers Under Forty in the World." More information at davidludwigmusic.com.


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Friday, March 6, 2015

How the music of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra has Moved Me


How the music of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra has Moved Me
By Karen Paquin 
(Development Director, VSO)

The 100-mile move from Montreal across an international border to South Burlington is not biggest way that the Vermont Symphony Orchestra moved me.  Since I joined the VSO team just over six months ago, the Orchestra’s music that has moved me in very different, entirely wonderful, and completely unexpected ways.

In July, just before I began working, my family and I attended the Summer Music Festival Tour concert at Shelburne Farms.  What fun it was to dance to the big band sound of Benny Goodman and Glen Miller with my daughter!

In the fall, I was swept up in the picturesque composition, Before the Snow, written by Vermont native Beth Wiemann, and premiered during our Made in Vermont tour.  I closed my eyes as the music played and could actually envision an artist painting the stormy scene depicted in her piece.  It was a very cool experience.  I almost stepped into the painting myself to walk among the blowing, swirling leaves.

December brought Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.  I had never heard this piece before, but I knew the story behind it and, once I heard the music, I could see how it had stirred up so much controversy.  Hearing it live was amazing, but listening to it in the VSO jeep with Eleanor while driving back from our Brass Quintet and Counterpoint concert in Warren was truly surreal.  The road seemed to twist and turn to the music, forcing me to keep pace with it, to slow down.  As we merged onto the interstate, it was like we had to reach this point in our journey to stay in touch with the music as it rolled out of the stereo increasing its pace.

I was unsure that I would ever hear anything as impressive at Stravinsky.  But, then January arrived and with it, Elena Urioste playing Elgar’s Violin Concerto.  My eyes watered; I was so moved by her abilities… and I wasn’t alone.  Several people admitted to being moved to tears by the exquisite talents of this young woman.

This journey is just beginning and I am sure it will continue to move me through the incredible music that this orchestra of very talented musicians plays at every turn.
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