Wednesday, December 29, 2010

VSO Ensembles for your wedding or special event

The VSO's professional classical musicians are available to play for your wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, grand opening, memorial service -- any special event where classical music can add to the ambiance. From solo violinists to harpists to string quartets, we have a variety of ensembles to suit your occasion. Check out our website for more information. Keep reading for a video interview with Rebecca Kopycinski, Ensemble Coordinator. Or e-mail Rebecca for more information.

Keep reading!

Monday, December 20, 2010

"One GREEN Earth" to air on RETN

The VSO presents an orchestral youth concert every year as part of its SymphonyKids Educational Outreach programs and in conjunction with the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts Student Matinee Series. This year's program was all about conveying a message through music about sustainability and being "green." The Regional Educational Television Network (RETN) was on location and filmed the program. It will air on RETN North on Comcast and Burlington Telecom channel 16 (Burlington, Charlotte, Essex, Essex Junction, South Burlington, Winooski and Williston) plus RETN South on Comcast channel 16 (Charlotte, Ferrisbugh, Hinesburg, Saint George, Shelburne and Vergennes).

Here are the airtimes:

Friday, December 24 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, December 25 at 8 a.m.
Sunday, December 26 at 8 a.m.

We will announce more airings as we learn of them. Keep reading for detailed information about "One GREEN Earth."

"One GREEN Earth"
You probably know that Green Up Day is May 1, and you may know that Green Up Vermont is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2010, but did you know that the Vermont Symphony Orchestra is joining the campaign to protect our precious environment? On December 2, “One GREEN Earth” will premiere at the Flynn Center in Burlington!

Bill Shontz, CEO of the Children’s Music Hall of Fame and a veteran entertainer and educator, emcees the presentation. A video of photos taken on Green Up Day accompanies Shontz’s rendition of “Green Up.” For “One Earth,” powerful slides from EARTHWATCH have the lyrics super-imposed for an audience singalong. The orchestra plays works by Verdi, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Strauss, and John Williams.

Copland’s Shaker tune “’Tis a Gift to Be Simple” reflects a reverence for the natural world, while Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” inspires us all! Other ingredients of the program are: a song about solar and wind power written and performed by students; a contest for schools to create instruments out of recycled materials; and musicians volunteering their eco-friendly resolutions for 2011.
Keep reading!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tickets still available for our Brass Quintet and Counterpoint Chorus Holiday Concerts

There are still tickets available for our VSO Brass Quintet and Counterpoint Chorus Holiday Concerts in Manchester on Sunday, December 19, and Brandon on Monday, December 20. Get in the spirit! Visit the event pages for information on how to purchase tickets or keep reading.

Adults $18
Seniors 65+ and students $15
Free under age 18 with adult purchase

Sunday, December 19, 4:00 p.m.
First Congregational Church, Manchester

Tickets available at Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, (802) 362-3565.

Monday, December 20, 7:00 p.m.
Congregational Church, Brandon

Tickets available at Briggs Carriage Bookstore, Brandon, (802) 247-0050; Lake Sunapee Bank, Brandon, (802) 247-5771; and the Boys and Girls Club of Brandon, (802) 465-4131.
Keep reading!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

End of Endowment Campaign In Sight

We have raised 97% of the endowment goal of $3.5 million. To date, we have raised $3,393,130. Make a donation to our endowment campaign to ensure the longevity of your Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Help us end this campaign soon. E-mail Mike Peluse or call (800) 876-9293 x25 for more information or to donate. You can also make a donation online. Keep reading for more information about ways of giving and naming opportunities.

There are many ways to give to the VSO during this endowment campaign. Please consider these methods and find the one that best suits your current situation. In many cases you may find there are tax benefits with certain ways of giving; please discuss these with your financial advisor, and call us if you have specific questions. We ask you to remember that annual giving remains a crucial part of our operations, and we hope you will maintain your support for today, while participating in this campaign for the future.

A cash contribution is the easiest way to give, and can be spread over several years.

Gifts of stock, mutual funds, or bonds are a popular way to give and most donors find this a more advantageous way to make a generous gift.

Paid insurance policies are welcomed as a contribution to the campaign.

You may have property or tangible goods you would like to donate. Please be aware that tax law requires you to obtain an appraisal of any tangible goods valued at $5,000 or more, prior to your donation, and that immediate sale of the gift may affect the limits of its tax deductibility. In the case of a gift of real estate, you may need to have an environmental appraisal.

Planned gifts are an increasingly popular way to make a long-term impact with your contribution. This could include trusts, retirement funds, charitable gift annuities and other estate planning methods. As a tax exempt organization, we can benefit from a variety of trust arrangements which carry substantial benefits for the donor.

Bequests are the ultimate gift to the VSO. Although a bequest cannot be counted in our campaign goal until it is realized, we would like to recognize your plans by including you among our Legacy Society, which is acknowledged annually. Please let us know if you have made provision for a gift to the VSO in your will.

Your contribution to the VSO will make a significant difference in the future. We are deeply grateful for your participation in this campaign. E-mail Mike Peluse, Development Director, or call (800) VSO-9293 x 25 if you would like to discuss any aspect of your giving plans.

A gift of any size may be made to the general endowment or to an already established endowment fund. Listed below are special opportunities in the current campaign to name a specific fund in perpetuity.*

Music Director Chair $1,500,000
Chorus Director Chair $500,000
Guest Artist Chair $500,000
Principal Guest Conductor Chair $400,000

Concertmaster Chair $400,000
Assistant Concertmaster Chair $250,000
Principal Chair $200,000
Section Chair $150,000

Masterworks Series $1,250,000
Made in Vermont Tour $500,000
Summer Festival Tour $1,250,000
Holiday Pops Series $375,000

SymphonyKids Education Programs $1,000,000
SymphonyKids Components:
Musicians-in-the-Schools $500,000
Musical Petting Zoo $150,000
Orchestral Youth Concert Tour $250,000

* Other naming opportunities are available, as well as five- or ten-year options. Honorary or memorial gifts are also welcome. Please feel free to discuss your ideas with Alan Jordan, VSO Executive Director, or Mike Peluse, Development Director.
Keep reading!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Special ticket deal for the Burlington Holiday Pops concert this Saturday

Special e-deal for groups of friends and families!! Purchase a group of three or more tickets for the VSO's Holiday Pops concert on Saturday, December 11 at the Flynn Center in Burlington and pay only $15 for each ticket. This deal must be redeemed at the Flynn Box Office in person on Main Street in Burlington or by calling (802) 86-FLYNN. You must use the following code: "FAMILYRUSH." Gather your family and friends for this festive holiday concert!!

Visit the event page.

Keep reading for complete program information.

Robert De Cormier, conductor
VSO Chorus
Susanne Peck, soprano
Amy Frostman, alto

GERMAN King Henry VIII: Three Dances
ANDERSON, arr. Brymer Sleigh Ride
DE CORMIER, arr. Joy to the World
DE CORMIER, arr. Hayo Haya
DE CORMIER, arr. Light One Candle
BASS Gloria
DE CORMIER, arr. O Come All Ye Faithful
MENOTTI Introduction, March, and Shepherd’s Dance from Amahl and the Night Visitors
DE CORMIER, arr. Mary Had a Baby
DE CORMIER, arr. Jehovah Hallelujah
DE CORMIER, arr. Shout for Joy
HANDEL Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah
Keep reading!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Pops: Glory Hallelujah this weekend

This weekend, join the VSO under Robert De Cormier, soprano Susanne Peck, alto Amy Frostman, and the VSO Chorus for our annual festive favorite: Holiday Pops. The theater will ring with two Glorias, two Hallelujahs, three spirituals, music from the court of King Henry VIII, excerpts from “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” and (of course!) an audience singalong. We will be visiting the Barre Opera House on Friday, the Flynn Center in Burlington on Saturday, and the Paramount Theatre in Rutland for a matinee on Sunday. Tickets are going fast, so visit the event pages for information on ticket outlets.

Click to visit the Barre Opera House event on Friday, December 10.

Click to visit the Flynn Center event on Saturday, December 11.

Click to visit the Paramount Theatre event on Sunday, December 12.

Keep reading for the complete program information.

Robert De Cormier, conductor
VSO Chorus
Susanne Peck, soprano
Amy Frostman, alto

GERMAN King Henry VIII: Three Dances
ANDERSON, arr. Brymer Sleigh Ride
DE CORMIER, arr. Joy to the World
DE CORMIER, arr. Hayo Haya
DE CORMIER, arr. Light One Candle
BASS Gloria
DE CORMIER, arr. O Come All Ye Faithful
MENOTTI Introduction, March, and Shepherd’s Dance from Amahl and the Night Visitors
DE CORMIER, arr. Mary Had a Baby
DE CORMIER, arr. Jehovah Hallelujah
DE CORMIER, arr. Shout for Joy
HANDEL Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah
Keep reading!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

VSO viola auditionee featured in "Hackie"

Check it out! Click this link to read!

Keep reading!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Special ticket deal for the December 4 Masterworks concert

With fewer than 30 tickets left for the December 4 Masterworks concert this Saturday, we have decided to sell the remaining tickets for only $25. You could save up to $38 off face value. Act quickly, though, as this concert will sell out. The discount must be redeemed through the Flynn Regional Box Office in person on Main Street in Burlington or by calling (802) 86-FLYNN. Use the following code: RUSHDEAL. Keep reading for program information about this concert or click here to read the program notes on this blog.

2010/2011 Masterworks Series 2
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Flynn Center, Burlington

The cutting edge ensemble eighth blackbird performs "On a Wire," for sextet and orchestra, the latest work from 2010 Pulitzer prize-winner Jennifer Higdon, during this co-presentation by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and Flynn Center. The VSO's second Masterworks series program, led by Principal Guest Conductor Anthony Princiotti, opens with Weber's popular Euryanthe Overture and closes with the epitome of Finnish nationalism, Sibelius' Symphony No. 2.

Anthony Princiotti, conductor
eighth blackbird

WEBER Overture to Euryanthe
JENNIFER HIGDON On a Wire, Concerto for Sextet and Orchestra
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2
Keep reading!

Tickets for VSO Brass Quintet and Counterpoint Holiday Concerts available today

Tickets for all five of the VSO's Brass Quintet and Counterpoint Holiday Concerts are available today! From Thursday, December 16, through Monday, December 20, Robert De Cormier the VSO's brass quintet and the twelve-person Counterpoint chorus, criss-cross the state bringing a festive mix of brass and voices to intimate venues. Keep in mind the concerts on December 16 in Warren and December 18 in Grafton are free to the public and tickets go quickly, so keep reading for ticket information regarding these and our other concerts in Jay, Manchester, and Brandon.

Thursday, December 16, 7:30 p.m.
Warren United Church, Warren
Free admission; ticket required; limit four tickets per person. Tickets available beginning December 1 at the Bradley House in Warren, (802) 496-9714.
Sponsored by the Warren Arts Committee and Mary Jane Burry, in memory of Marion Hogue and Colonel Frank Burry

Friday, December 17, 7:30 p.m.
International Room at Jay Peak Resort, Jay
Free wine tasting 6 - 7:15 p.m.
Adults $15 or $10 with a food drive donation; Adult dinner and concert $30 or $25 with food drive donation; Children $5; Children dinner and concert $20; Food donations go to the Jay Food Shelf.
Tickets are available at the Woodknot Bookshop and Turner's Cafe in Newport by calling (802) 334-6720; Jay Peak Resort by calling (802) 327-2500; and the VSO by calling (800) 876-9293 x 10.
Sponsored by: Jay Peak Resort & Louis Jadot Wines

Saturday, December 18, 5:00 p.m.
The White Church, Grafton
Free admission; ticket required; limit four tickets per person. Tickets available beginning December 1 beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the Grafton Grocery Market in Grafton.
As in the past, this concert has been underwritten as a gift to the town of Grafton.

Sunday, December 19, 4:00 p.m.
First Congregational Church, Manchester
Adults $18; Seniors 65+ and students $15; Free under age 18 with adult purchase
Tickets available beginning December 1 at Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, (802) 362-3565.
Sponsored by:
The Southwest Friends of the VSO
Equinox Resort

Monday, December 20, 7:00 p.m.
Congregational Church, Brandon
Adults $18; Seniors 65+ and students $15; Free under age 18 with adult purchase
Tickets available beginning December 1 at Briggs Carriage Bookstore, Brandon, (802) 247-0050; Lake Sunapee Bank, Brandon, (802) 247-5771; and the Boys and Girls Club of Brandon, (802) 465-4131.
This concert is a benefit for the Boys and Girls Club of Brandon.
Sponsored by: Lake Sunapee Bank and Natural Elegance

Keep reading!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stream or download live VSO recordings

The VSO's presence on Instant Encore offers a place where you can stream our concert recordings and/or download the tracks. We have several concert recordings available, including the sold out Masterworks Series Opening Night on October 23. Baste the turkey to Beethoven's Overture to Leonore, No. 3, chop veggies to Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1, or assemble a pie to Arriaga's Symphony in D. Visit our e-boutique now.
Keep reading!

Program notes: December 4 Masterworks Concert

On Saturday, December 4, the VSO and the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts will co-present the second Masterworks concert installment this season. Grammy-award winning sextet eighth blackbird and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon team up for a performance of Higdon's "On A Wire" for sextet and orchestra. eighth blackbird will perform an intimate concert at the FlynnSpace on Sunday, December 5. Contact FlynnTix for a 20% discount on tickets for both events. This package must be redeemed either in person at the Flynn Box Office or by calling (802) 86-FLYNN. No other discounts apply. Only valid on new ticket purchases, while tickets are available. Single tickets for the Masterworks Series concert on Saturday, December 4, can be purchased through FlynnTix online or by calling (802) 86-FLYNN. Keep reading for the program notes for this concert.

Overture to Euryanthe
Carl Maria von Weber (1726-1826)

“My reception when I appeared in the orchestra to conduct the premiere of Euryanthe was the most enthusiastic that one could imagine,” wrote Weber to his wife the day after the premiere on October 25, 1823. “There was no end to it. At last I gave the signal for beginning. Stillness of death. The Overture was applauded madly, and there was a demand for a repetition, but I went ahead so that the performance might not be too long or drawn out.” After the success of its first season, the opera was doomed, handicapped by its inane libretto. But the spontaneity and imaginativeness of the music have kept the overture in the standard repertoire. Schumann was enchanted by it: “It is a chain of sparkling jewels from beginning to end—all brilliant and flawless.”

With a grandiose flourish, Weber sets the mood of his tragic opera. The brass and woodwinds announce the theme by which the hero proclaims his reliance on God and his beloved Euryanthe. In the development section, the famous ghost music is orchestrated for eight muted solo violins, and this is later combined with the majestic opening melody. The poignant progression from the tragic to the triumphant concludes definitively in a grand coda.

Weber’s works, including Euryanthe, greatly influenced the development of the Romantic opera in Germany, and anticipated Wagner. Berlioz praised his gift for orchestration in his Treatise on Instrumentation, while Debussy remarked that the sound of the Weber orchestra was obtained through the scrutiny of the soul of each instrument.

On A Wire, Concerto for Sextet and Orchestra
Jennifer Higdon (1962- )

The composer writes: "Composing a concerto for one soloist and orchestra is a bit of a balancing act…so imagine throwing in five more soloists. On A Wire is eighth blackbird’s high-wire act of a concerto. Having already written two chamber works for this group, I am familiar with their ability to do all sorts of cool things on their instruments, from extended techniques, to complex patterns, to exquisitely controlled lyrical lines. I also admire the pure joy that emanates from their playing, no matter the repertoire. Written as a one-movement work, it highlights the group as an ensemble, allows each member to solo, and utilizes some of their unique staging: the players move about and perform beyond their respective primary instruments (the work begins with bowed piano). So imagine six blackbirds, sitting on a wire…." The world premiere of On A Wire took place at Symphony Hall in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 3, 2010, with soloists eighth blackbird, and Robert Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

On A Wire is a co-commission by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Akron Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the West Michigan Symphony, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and the Cabrillo Festival.

Read more about Jennifer Higdon.
Read more about eighth blackbird.

Symphony No. 2 in D Major
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

Jean Sibelius was born in the small Finnish town of Tavastehus, the son of a regimental doctor. A sensitive child drawn to the beauty of nature and art, his early pursuits in music on the piano, violin and in composition grew organically out of the desire of a shy child to find a comfortable way to express his inner thoughts and feelings.

Sibelius borrowed a year from his musical career in an attempt to study law, but the muse was too possessive and his parents gave their blessing to his enrollment in the Institute of Music. There he made several close friends, and one of them, Adolf Paul, gave this portrayal of him: "He did not seem to dwell on this earth. His nature was delicate and impressionable; his sensitive imagination found outlet in music at the slightest provocation. His thoughts always strayed, his head was always in the clouds, and he continually expressed such original and bizarre ideas his normal mood he was like the rest of us drunk."

In 1899 Sibelius' studies took him to Berlin and Vienna, and in the latter city he met Brahms whose works at that time dominated the world of symphonic music. Sibelius' reverence for Brahms reveals itself in his early work, but a more powerful and fateful alliance was yet to be made which would make a life-long imprint on his music.

At the end of his formal training in 1891, Sibelius returned to Finland, where he joined a group of idealistic young musicians who called themselves "Young Finns." Strongly patriotic, they were committed to the movement for Finnish liberation from Russian domination. The fact that the Russian government denied freedom of speech and press did not discourage Sibelius, who was most used to speaking through his music: "...for me, music begins where words cease." Rather, this suppression of the usual forms of communication made Sibelius' music a comparative shout for freedom and national unity that stirred the hearts of all Finns.

Comfortably married and settled in a teaching position at the Musical Institute, Sibelius began to create a national Finnish music. He broke most ties with German and Russian romanticism and through extraordinary originality, fervent national identity and a profound love of nature created the completely recognizable and unduplicated genre of Finnish Romanticism. It is characterized by tonal landscapes and orchestrations which give almost visual images of the country, and emotional empathy with its natives.

The Second Symphony was written in 1901, shortly after Finlandia had firmly established him as a national hero. Georg Schneevoigt, a close friend and famous interpreter of Sibelius, ascribed a program to the work: the first movement (Allegretto) represents the quiet pastoral life of the Finns undisturbed by thoughts of oppression. The second movement (Andante, ma rubato) rings with patriotic fervor, but the threat of brutal rule over the people brings with it timidity of the soul. The scherzo of the third movement (Vivacissimo) brings the awakening of national feeling and the desire to organize in defense of rights. A long crescendo leads without pause into the final movement (Allegro moderato) which expresses the hope and comfort in the anticipated coming of a deliverer.

Sibelius composed five more symphonies between the years 1907 and 1924. He was recognized internationally as one of the greatest symphonic composers since Brahms. In 1924, tired of giving concerts and of the discomforts of travel, he retired to Arnola, to compose nothing more than a set of piano pieces in 1929. As though he had concentrated a lifetime of creativity in a few furious years, Sibelius devoted the rest of his life to small-town pleasures and the serenity of seclusion.

Hilary Hatch
Keep reading!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vermont Music Now 14: Jaime Laredo

In this episode of Vermont Music Now, New Music Advisor David Ludwig chats with VSO Music Director Jaime Laredo about playing, conducting, and programming contemporary music.

Keep reading!

Monday, November 8, 2010

SymphonyKids Spotlight: Vermont State Employee's Credit Union

The SymphonyKids Spotlight was created as a showcase of our SymphonyKids offerings. We never meant for it to be a sponsor spotlight. However, many schools in the state rely on the generous underwriting dollars of our sponsors to help defray the cost of bringing the VSO into their school. The Vermont State Employees Credit Union is a new and welcome sponsor of SymphonyKids. VSECU’s CEO, Steve Post, says “When school budgets are trimmed, sometimes the music programs are the first to go, so it is a pleasure to support a program that brings music and music appreciation to our young people in Vermont.” In addition to sponsoring programs in the schools this season, VSECU has purchased blocks of tickets for VSO concerts statewide and is making them available free of charge to schools in multiple raffle drawings. This offer is available to schools around the state that have received funding from VSECU for a VSO SymphonyKids performance. Keep reading for information on booking a program in your school.

The VSO's SymphonyKids Educational Outreach programs reach over 20,000 Vermont schoolchildren each year. Our primary offering is Musicians-in-the-Schools, seven outstanding assembly-style presentations. In addition to those, the Musical Petting Zoo travels to schools with a van full of instruments that are demonstrated and then put into the hands of your students! Our New Music Advisor, David Ludwig, can present to all age groups, from elementary students to college students. For more info, click any of the links to be redirected to our website, e-mail, or call (800) VSO-9293 x 14.
Keep reading!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Special three-concert Masterworks subscriptions starting at $78

Our first 2010/2011 Masterworks concert was a sell-out and our last concert of the series is already sold out. The remaining three concerts, in December, January, and March, feature a Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award winning composer, a Grammy Award winning sextet, excellent violin and piano soloists, Sibelius, Mozart, Dvorak, and more. Secure your seats to these concerts by subscribing to a money-saving three concert package, starting at $78. Keep reading for detailed program information or jump right to our website for more information.

Saturday, December 4, 2010
Anthony Princiotti, conductor
eighth blackbird

WEBER Overture to Euryanthe
JENNIFER HIGDON On a Wire, Concerto for Sextet and Orchestra
SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2

Saturday, January 22, 2011
Jaime Laredo, conductor
Anna Polonsky, piano

ROSSINI Overture to Il Signor Bruschino
MOZART Concerto No. 27, K. 595
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Jaime Laredo, conductor
Bella Hristova, violin

DVORAK Violin Concerto
MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3, "Scotch"
Keep reading!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Enter our Instant Wine Cellar Raffle

Purchase tickets for $35 (or 3 for $100) from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO), and you will be entered in a drawing to win an “Instant Wine Cellar.” No more than 350 tickets will be sold. The winner will receive an “instant wine cellar” consisting of 100 bottles of wine and a wine cooler cabinet to hold them. The package has an estimated value of $3,500. Keep reading for the official rules or visit our website.


1) Go to to the “VSO Instant Wine Cellar Raffle” page and send an email via the provided link. Someone will contact you to complete the sale.

2) Call the VSO at (800) VSO-9293. Provide your entry information (name, address, telephone, email) over the phone along with credit card information to charge the entry fee. If you reach a voice mailbox, leave your name and contact information and someone will contact you to complete the purchase.

3) Mail in completed entry form to Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Attn: Instant Wine Cellar Raffle, 2 Church Street Suite 3B, Burlington, VT 05401, with your check for $35 per ticket (or 3 for $100) payable to Vermont Symphony Orchestra. Entry forms may be obtained at the VSO Office, by calling (800) VSO-9293, or by downloading and printing this VSO Instant Wine Cellar Raffle Entry Form. Mailed entries must be received by the VSO no later than 5:00pm EST on February 4, 2011.

ELIGIBILITY: Open only to legal U.S. residents who are 21 years of age or older as of July 24, 2010. Full-time and part-time employees of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, VSO musicians, and other contracted service providers of the VSO and their immediate family members are ineligible. The VSO is not responsible for late, lost, damaged, incomplete, misdirected, illegible or mutilated entries. The VSO reserves the right to revoke any prize or remove an entry if the entrant does not meet any or all of the eligibility requirements, or if the entry or winning ticket has been damaged or altered.

SELECTION AND NOTIFICATION OF WINNERS: The drawing will be held at the 33rd Annual Waltz Night on Saturday, February 5, 2011 at the Dudley Davis Center at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. The winner need not be present to win. Once submitted, entries become the sole property of the VSO and will not be returned. Winner will be notified in person (if present at the drawing), by phone, mail and/or email. If potential winner cannot be reached after 10 days from first notification attempt, or if an entrant is found to be ineligible, or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, such prize will be forfeited and an alternate winner selected by random drawing. The VSO is not responsible for problems occurring within the postal system or the internet which may affect winner’s receipt of the winning notice.

PRIZE: “Instant wine cellar” consisting of 100 bottles of wine and a wine cooler cabinet to hold them. The package has an estimated value of $3,500. The VSO will deliver the prize to the winner within 90 days of the raffle drawing, at which time the winner shall be the legal owner of the prize. If the winner lives in the northeastern U.S., the VSO will deliver the prize to a mutually agreed-upon location. If the winner lives outside the northeast, the winner will need to make arrangements to pick up the prize and/or transport it. Prize is transferable, but solely by the raffle winner, and the winner must notify the VSO if a transfer is to take place, and who the new claimant will be. The transferee must be at least 21 years of age.

INDEMNIFICATION & LIMIT ON LIABLITY: As a condition of accepting the prize, winner acknowledges that the VSO is not responsible for any harm, injury, losses, or damage caused to any person or property, proximate or otherwise, through the use of any prize by any person, or other issues related to the prize, its warranty, or its quality. Winner further agrees to save and hold harmless the VSO, its board members and employees from any claim of such responsibility. “Harm, injury, losses, or damage” includes but is not limited to occurrences beyond the control of the VSO such as death, bodily injury, property damage, or theft.

GENERAL: Pursuant to current tax law, ticket purchases are not tax deductible. By entering the raffle, participants agree that the VSO, its board members and employees have no liability whatsoever for any injuries, harm, losses, or damages of any kind caused to any person or property, proximate or otherwise, which result from use of the prize, or by participation in the raffle. Participants further agree to save and hold harmless the VSO, its board members and employees from any claim of such responsibility. Prize must be claimed within 60 days from the date of award. The prize cannot be exchanged for cash. No substitutions. The VSO may use winner’s name and likeness for publicity purposes without further compensation. The VSO is not responsible for any failure of communications or failure of the internet or its website. The VSO reserves the right to modify these rules and will give prompt announcement of any rule changes. All decisions of the VSO are final and binding in all matters related to this raffle.

TAX OBLIGATIONS: All local, state and federal taxes are the sole responsibility of the winner. The VSO is required by law to report to the Internal Revenue Service the value of the prize as income to the winner. Winner agrees to provide their social security number to the VSO, and to provide any other documentation requested. Winner acknowledges that failure to provide such documentation may require the VSO to withhold income taxes from the winner in order for the winner to claim the prize. This information is collected for tax recording purposes only, and will not be used or released for any other purposes.

RESTRICTIONS: By participating in the VSO Instant Wine Cellar Raffle, a participant agrees to be bound by these Official Rules, and by all decisions of the VSO. The winner will be required to sign an Affidavit of Eligibility and Publicity/Liability Release. For further information, please call the VSO at (800) 876-9293.

Keep reading!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Two reviews of our Masterworks opening night

Here are links to two reviews of our Masterworks Series opening night concert on October 23. The night featured Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein playing Tchaikovsky's beloved Piano Concerto No. 1 under the baton of Jaime Laredo. The first review is by Times Argus staff reporter Jim Lowe. The second is a less conventional review by two audience members (written directly on the program insert!).

Jim Lowe's review.

Audience reaction.

Keep reading!

Memories (and recordings!) Made in Vermont

I know it seems that foliage is a thing of the recent past. We had a week of gale-force winds and storms in early October and -- poof! -- the trees stood naked, prepared to be peppered with early-season snowfall. Our Made in Vermont tour (planned to occur during projected peak foliage time in Vermont), fell on either side of this weather event, two weekends marking the beginning and abrupt end to the 2010 leaf-peeper season. The belligerent weather system wasn't the only memorable part of the tour. Here we recount some memories shared by the musicians, staff, and the tour's featured composer, Don Jamison. Want a memory that lasts? You can download the complete Made in Vermont concert recording on our page at Instant Encore. Seek something more ephemeral? You can stream it, too. Keep reading for our memories!

"My favorite part was arriving at the hall on my birthday and seeing a mylar balloon with "Happy Birthday" on it tied to a bottle of Champ Ale on my bass stool." -- Luke, bass

"I was so glad for Albert and his conductorial debut and amazing playing and Heidi for her pre-Handel backstage dance routine. Better than TV." -- Shelagh, French horn

"My favorite part was coming to Randolph Champagne Camping after playing a wedding with Hilary, and having Mary welcome us in the freezing cold with hot macaroni and cheese and tomato sauce in the camper, which she had driven from our camping place the night before!" -- Dieuwke, cello

"My hosts, the Bowmans in Newport, offered to take me to the Eastside Restaurant for the Green Room Program in their BOAT." -- Elizabeth, violin

"One of the things that marked the fall tour for me was when Russell and I went jogging on Island Line Trail in the Colchester Causeway Park. It was to me the most exquisite experience in many years. It's one of the most beautiful places I've been to, it's breathtaking!" -- Lino, violin

"One of my favorite things was the drive to Lyndonville. The foliage between Montpelier and Danville was at its peak. The weather was beautiful and the views were really spectacular." -- Alan, French horn

"I loved playing Mozart #29 eight times." -- Marilyn, viola

"Unlike the rest of you, I was out in the audience for all eight concerts, catching many interesting differences (mostly having to do with acoustics of the halls and quirks of the performances, but also with my mood and those ineffable audience vibes), but also developing a list of favorite moments (Heidi's wonderful hands pinging out those harmonics, Shelagh's lovely vibrato, Albert gulping for enough air to keep the flurries of notes going). I loved getting little glimpses into the musicians' lives, and bits of insight into what they were noticing as they played. My favorite musical moment was an upward-resolving appoggiatura in the flute in the second movement of the C.P.E. Bach -- so beautiful. I enjoyed meeting members of the audience and being thanked (!) for writing my piece. And I loved it when some of the musicians took the time to seek me out and tell me they were enjoying my music and specific spots they liked. All very heart-warming and fun and exhausting." -- Don, composer

"Really enjoyed the Jamison [piece by conductor quoted above]." -- David, violin

"Rum-laced whipped cream at the dinner in Bellows Falls made for a giddy postprandial soundcheck!" -- Rebecca, Technical Director

Download the concert recording (or stream it) at our Instant Encore page. Keep reading!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Results of Principal Viola Audition Announced

Congratulations, Russell Wilson, on securing the principal viola seat today! We went from nine auditionees to five to three to one before Russell was awarded the position. We look forward to your leadership (and your bowings!). Keep reading!

Alon Goldstein interview on VPR Classical today at 3 p.m.

VPR Classical will air an interview with Alon Goldstein this afternoon at 3 p.m. Joe Goetz interviews the Israeli pianist who will play with the VSO under Jaime Laredo tomorrow night at the Flynn Center. This performance marks the start of the 2010/2011 Masterworks Series. Keep reading!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cheap ticket deal for our concert this weekend!

I spent most of last night trying to beat the system. The airline ticket pricing system, that is. Cheapest tickets at 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning? I think not. If only every ticket deal was as easy as ticket deals with the VSO. We are offering up A+ tickets (regularly priced at $58) for $25 if you redeem this e-deal by Friday at 1 p.m. How do you redeem this killer offer? Simply call (800) 876-9293 x10 and speak with Sam. You may also e-mail her at Act now, quantities are limited. We have less than 50 tickets (total) remaining for this concert. Keep reading for the program.

The brilliant trumpet fanfare from Beethoven’s Leonore Overture is a fitting start to the VSO’s Masterworks season. The balance of the program includes one undeservedly obscure work by the “Spanish Mozart,” and one work which richly deserves its extreme popularity, Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, soloist Alon Goldstein’s debut at age eighteen with the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta has been followed by non-stop concertizing in the U.S. and abroad.

Jaime Laredo, conductor
Alon Goldstein, piano

BEETHOVEN Leonore Overture No. 3
ARRIAGA Symphony in D
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No. 1
Keep reading!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Program notes: October 23 Masterworks Opening Night

Our 2010/2011 Masterworks Series opens this weekend with Jaime Laredo leading the VSO and Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein. Read the program notes now and free yourself up to socialize before the concert! If you don't have a ticket yet, act now. We have less than 50 tickets left. Buy tickets here. Keep reading for more information about the program, which includes a symphony by Spanish composer Arriaga, one of Beethoven's Leonore Overtures, and Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1.

Leonore Overture No. 3 in C Major, Op. 72
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

It was characteristic of Beethoven that he wrote four overtures for the opera he always wished to have called Leonore and which always has been called Fidelio. The first he rejected as too modest in scope; the second as too difficult technically. The third was such a powerful work that it tended to dwarf the opera, so he wrote a fourth, which is the one that generally precedes Fidelio today. (It is called the Fidelio Overture.) Leonore Overture No. 3 outlines the so-called “rescue opera” plot: when Leonore’s husband, Florestan, is imprisoned for political reasons, Leonore disguises herself as a boy and risks her life to save him. Trumpet calls announce Florestan’s liberation, and the music of his earlier lament expands into a final triumphant paean to freedom—which of course celebrates something greater than the deliverance of one individual victim of injustice.

Symphony in D
Juan Crisostomo Jacobo Antonio de Arriaga y Balzola (1806-1826)

An interesting instance of someone whose name was almost longer than his life! Arriaga, who was born in Bilbao, Spain, died in Paris at the age of nineteen, of a lung ailment, or perhaps exhaustion. He has been nicknamed the “Spanish Mozart,” because, like Mozart, he was a child prodigy who died tragically young. Arriaga studied violin, counterpoint, and harmony at the Paris Conservatory, and was so precocious that he was asked to be a teaching assistant during his short tenure there.

Arriaga’s understandably small oeuvre includes an opera, Los esclavos felices (“The Happy Slaves”), of which unfortunately only the overture survives, three wonderful string quartets, an octet, a few pieces of church music, and some miscellaneous instrumental compositions--in addition to the work we will hear this evening.

The Symphony in D uses the keys of D Major and d minor so equally as not to be technically in either key. (Is this the only example of that in the literature?!) Grove’s Dictionary of Music calls Arriaga’s music “elegant, accomplished, and notable for its harmonic warmth.” There is little that is characteristically Spanish-sounding in his writing; rather, it is an example of the type of western European music that bridged the gap between the late classical music of Mozart’s time and the early Romanticism of Beethoven. A public theater in Bilbao is named in his honor.

Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb minor, Op. 23
Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)

On February 2, 1878, Tchaikovsky wrote to his patroness, Madam Von Meck: “In December, 1874, I had written a pianoforte concerto. As I am not a pianist, I thought it necessary to ask a virtuoso what was technically unplayable in the work. I needed the advice of a severe critic who at the same time was kindly disposed towards me…. Nicholas Rubinstein was the best pianist in Moscow, and also a most excellent musician, so I determined to ask him to hear it.

“I played through the first movement. Not a criticism, not a word. You know how foolish you feel, if you invite one to partake of a meal provided by your own hands, and the friend eats and is silent! At least say something, scold me good-naturedly, but for God’s sake speak! Rubinstein said nothing. I did not need any judgment on the artistic form of my work, there was a question only about mechanical details. This silence of Rubinstein said much. It said to me at once: ‘Dear friend, how can I talk about details when I dislike your composition as a whole?’ But I kept my temper and played the concerto through. Again silence.

“ ‘Well?’ I said, and stood up. There burst forth from Rubinstein’s mouth a mighty torrent of words. He spoke quietly at first; then he waxed hot, and at last he resembled Zeus hurling thunderbolts. It appeared that my concerto was utterly worthless, absolutely unplayable, passages were so commonplace and awkward that they could not be improved; the piece as a whole was bad, trivial, vulgar. I had stolen this from that one and that from this one; so only two or three pages were good for anything, while the others should be radically rewritten…. I cannot reproduce for you the main thing: the tone in which he said all this. An impartial bystander would necessarily have believed that I was a stupid, ignorant, conceited note-scratcher, who was so impudent as to show his scribble to a celebrated man.”

Obviously Tchaikovsky was of a temperament strong enough to fight off the viciousness of Rubinstein’s attack. He re-dedicated the work to Hans von Bülow, who accepted the honor in a letter which describes the work as “original, noble, and powerful.” Von Bülow premiered the concerto in Boston in 1875 to a tumultuous reception from audience and critics alike.

The introduction, possibly the most arresting in the concerto literature, leads into the Allegro con spirito. The main body of the movement begins with a rushing phrase that Tchaikovsky told his patrons he had heard a blind beggar sing at a fair. The second movement (Andante simplice) features a solo flute melody and a delicate scherzo-like middle section. It closes with a return to the same simple passage with which it began. The finale, Allegro con fuoco, has the brilliant characteristics of a wild Cossack dance. A magnificently lyrical contrasting theme, announced by violins in octaves, builds to a breathtaking climax.

Alon Goldstein, piano

“…an irresistible powerhouse performance”

The New York Times

Alon Goldstein is one of the most sensitive artists of his generation, admired for his musical intelligence and dynamic personality. Alon’s artistic vision and innovative programming have made him a favorite with audiences and critics alike throughout the United States, Europe, and Israel.

He made his orchestral debut at the age of 18 with the Israeli Philharmonic under the baton of Maestro Zubin Mehta, and in April of 2008 made a triumphant return with Maestro Herbert Blomstedt. In recent seasons, Alon has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco, St. Louis, Houston, Vancouver, Kansas City and North Carolina Symphonies, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, and orchestras on tour in Paris, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria.

His 2010-2011 season includes his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski playing Mendelssohn Concerto No. 1, a return to the IRIS Orchestra for a Saint Saëns Concerto No. 2 with Michael Stern and Tchaikovksy Concerto No. 1 with Jaime Laredo and the Vermont Symphony. Goldstein can be heard in recital and chamber music concerts in St Paul, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beijing, Guatamala City, Kent (UK) and Paris among others.

Keep reading!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dine with Jaime and Sharon--reserve by Wednesday morning

Fueled by reality food television shows, celebrity chefs have cropped up all over the nation. This Wednesday, October 20, enjoy a meal prepared by Chef David Smith of the Old Tavern at Grafton. You will be joined by VSO celebs Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson at the VSO's inaugural Celebrity Chef Dinner. The meal includes cocktails, pan-seared scallops, bacon roasted brussel sprouts, apple crisp, and much, much more. All proceeds go to support the VSO's SymphonyKids Educational Outreach Programs in the southeastern region of the state. Keep reading to learn more about the menu and how to attend. Space reservations must be received by Wednesday morning. Call today!

Inaugural Celebrity Chef Dinner
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Old Tavern at Grafton

Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, hosts
David Smith, chef
John Cray and Kathleen Metelica, innkeepers

6:00 p.m. Cocktails in the Phelps Barn
7:00 p.m. Dinner

$125 per person ($60 is tax deductible)
Space is limited and reservations will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please reserve by calling The Old Tavern at Grafton at (800) 843-1801.

A special overnight rate at The Old Tavern will be available on a limited basis for that evening. Please inquire when making your dinner reservation.


Pan seared scallop with a gilfeather turnip puree and basil oil

Mixed baby greens with goat cheese, toasted almonds, grapefruit and a shallot-lemon vinaigrette

Grafton shooter

Elk steak with Grafton cheddar and roast garlic mashed potatoes, bacon roasted brussel sprouts and a peppercorn port reduction*

Apple crisp with maple whipped cream

*Vegetarian option: Asparagus and goat cheese ravioli with a sundried tomato cream sauce

Proceeds support the VSO's SymphonyKids Educational Outreach programs in Southeastern Vermont. The VSO believes in bringing music to all parts of the state; not just through concerts, but also through SymphonyKids outreach programs for school-aged children. Each year, VSO musicians travel to the smallest schools in every corner of the state to bring the message that classical music can be cool! Last year they reached over 24,000 schoolchildren at 162 schools in 133 communities. The Southeast Vermont Friends of the VSO has set an ambitious target -- over the next three years they aim to offer free of charge a SymphonyKids program to every one of the elementary schools in the region. Thanks to a grant from the Windham Foundation, this is underway, and ensembles from the VSO presented 15 subsidized concerts in southeastern Vermont schools last spring.

Keep reading!

Friday, October 8, 2010

In their opinion: A conversation on the state of new music

The following is a short conversation between composer and Middlebury College professor Peter Hamlin and the VSO's Executive Director, Alan Jordan. They consider new music and help you understand barriers involved in bringing it to the stage, the politics behind it, and how the classical realm functions in regards to the new stuff. What do you think? Are you open to new works or just a fan of the classics?

I was thinking about new music and how audiences react to it. And also thinking what that says about the health of classical music today.

It seems to me that there are two opposite things happening in the national classical music scene that are both not good. One is a hunger by audiences for certain kinds of accessible music but no real mechanism for getting that music more widely created, supported and heard. I really do feel that there are “gatekeepers” (funding agencies, critics, etc.) who are not helpful to the creation of “populist” new music, and I think a big part of the “crisis” of modern music is that people aren’t writing popular new music in nearly enough numbers. Made in Vermont is a wonderful program that addresses this need, but nationwide there isn’t enough of it. It struck me how passionate and excited audiences have been about Don Jameson’s piece. This is a success story that we should replicate as much as possible.

The opposite concern is that audiences also don’t seem to understand the importance of avant-garde and experimental music. Like “pure research” in science, it may not make immediate connections with large audiences, but it is an important laboratory that continues to reinvigorate music. For orchestras to flourish and remain relevant, they need to be, at least in part, a crucible for new ideas.

These seem to be conflicting positions, but I actually think they can reinforce each other. I think part of the intolerance audiences have for more challenging music is that it is so rare for them to hear a new piece that they can genuinely and deeply fall in love with.
For what it’s worth, I’ll tell a favorite story about an orchestral premiere of mine in New Hampshire some years back. Before the concert, a guy in the audience overheard that I was the composer of the new work, and he turned around and gave me a long and impassioned speech about why he hated new music, how the new pieces were always the worst ones on the program, and on and on. After the piece, he turned to me and said, “Congratulations, I didn’t hate it!”

Peter S. Hamlin, Middlebury

* * * * *

What a great e-conversation starter. You're right--nobody wants to fund new pops music (although there have been some efforts by several larger orchestras to co-commission new pops programs, but I think that effort is as much about sight as it is sound). In many places, orchestras and other presenters have formed commissioning clubs: groups of individuals who contribute a set amount to be part of a commissioning process. The group occassionally meets with the composer and perhaps orchestra artistic personnel to get a "report" on progress. This sometimes includes some "give and take" feedback with the audience. Talk about getting folks "invested!"

We are looking into commissioning a violin concerto for our concertmaster, Katherine Winterstein, by Kenji Bunch, who is well-known in Vermont through the Craftsbury Chamber Players. It's a major project the VSO cannot undertake on its own. The price tag will probably be around $25,000. I wonder if we might be able to create a commissioning club in Vermont for such projects?

I don't see any problem with incorporating both thorny and beautiful/ethereal into the same work. Movie and TV composers do it all the time. David Ludwig's symphony certainly did that too. What turned a generation of audience off was 40 minutes of non-stop thorniness!

To be continued...

Alan Jordan, VSO Executive Director
Keep reading!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

SymphonyKids Spotlight: Fanfare at the Tunbridge Fair

The Vermont Symphony has one of the most comprehensive educational programs in the country. It is called SymphonyKids and is made up of several components, including (but not limited to!) Musicians-in-the-Schools, the Musical Petting Zoo, Orchestral Youth Concerts, and the Green Room Program. On Thursday, September 16, one of our Musicians-in-the-Schools programs, the brass trio known as Fanfare, played at the Tunbridge World's Fair. Here is a short video chronicling this day.

Keep reading to find out how to bring any of our Musicians-in-the-Schools programs into your child's school.

The VSO's Musicians-in-the-Schools educational groups are available to come into your school and enrich your students' musical experience. E-mail or call (800) VSO-9293 x 14. Visit our website to explore all the options available to you. We have subsidy money available to help defray the cost, all you have to do is ask!!

Keep reading!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Don Jamison talks about "It Is Time"

Here we have an eleven minute video featuring Made in Vermont composer Don Jamison.

Keep reading!

Program notes: Made in Vermont Music Festival Statewide Tour

The 2010 Made in Vermont Music Festival Statewide Tour (it's a mouthful, huh?) hits the road this Thursday, September 23. Check out the complete schedule in the right sidebar. Visit the VSO website to see information about tickets. The tour features a smaller orchestral force than other presentations during the year, making for an intimate concert experience at some of the smaller venues in smaller communities around the state. Click the following Keep reading! link to read the program notes for the concert.

Harp Concerto in Bb, Op. 4 No. 6
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

An English (naturalized) composer of German birth, Handel’s stature as one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era, in both vocal and instrumental music, has always been recognized. He was a cosmopolitan and eclectic artist, drawing impartially on German, Italian, French, and English traditions. On February 19, 1736, King’s Theater in London played host to a remarkable gala musicale. Four of Handel’s full-scale concert pieces were heard that evening for the first time: his Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, his Alexander’s Feast Concerto Grosso, his Organ Concerto in g minor, and--something quite remarkable for its time--a concerto for harp and orchestra. The harp concerto was later published as a work for organ and orchestra, and indeed it is most often heard today performed on the organ. But its pared-down orchestration, muted violins, and pizzicato bass parts are clear signs that it was originally conceived for the quieter and gentler solo instrument.

The piece is in three movements, following the then-emerging practice of fast-slow-fast as in modern concertos. Another indication that the concerto was not written for organ is that the harp part, while certainly soloistic, is less virtuosic than the flashy, flamboyant writing Handel created when he composed with himself as the performer in mind. The opening movement, Andante allegro, is transparent in texture, with a main theme built from seven broken-up, individual gestures. The Larghetto offers a more integrated melody, as the harp muses improvisatorially over repeated dotted figures in the accompaniment. The concluding Allegro moderato, with its bouncing 3/8 meter, is wholly dance like.

Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1949)

Vocalise is the last of Rachmaninoff’s Fourteen Songs, which were published in 1912. Originally written for voice (either soprano or tenor) with piano accompaniment, it is most often heard with soprano. As with many classical vocal pieces, it has been transposed into a variety of keys, allowing performers to choose a vocal range more suited to their natural voice. The vocal version contains no words, but is sung using any one vowel of the singer’s choosing. Vocalise’s extreme popularity has also resulted in arrangements for nearly any instrumental combination you can think of, including one for orchestra which was done by the composer himself. Some particularly intriguing forces include: piano trio, jazz ensemble, 24 cellos (the London Cello Orchestra), tuba and piano, solo accordion, and theremin. Today we will hear a version for string orchestra and French horn.

Concerto for Flute in d minor
C.P.E. Bach (1714-1788)

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the second surviving son of Johann Sebastian Bach and his first wife, Maria Barbara. The most famous and most prolific of the Bach sons, he held positions of great influence in Berlin and Hamburg, and was widely esteemed as a keyboard player and theorist as well as a composer.

There is some debate about whether C.P.E. was responsible for the solo flute version of this piece, but the work itself has been authenticated as a harpsichord concerto which he definitely did compose. Certainly he had an affinity for the flute, as he was in the employ of Frederick the Great (a monarch whose quite good if not completely professional flute playing was his way of resting from the prosecution of unprecedented social reforms and international warfare) for nearly 30 years.

Thematic material in the first movement is introduced by the orchestra: a driving principal theme and a lighter melody suited to ornamentation. The solo flute enters with more grace than drama, and then proceeds to develop both themes in a highly ornamented style. This virtuosic writing for the solo instrument sends it through a rapid and unusual chain of keys: E, F, Bb, d minor, E again, and a minor.

The second movement, Un poco andante, in marked contrast to the more agitated slow movements written by Bach later in his career, flows smoothly and elegantly. A hint of the composer’s future boldness is seen as more dramatic solo passages emerge from the charming song-like character as the movement progresses.

The last movement is a workout for the soloist! The flute hurtles down two and a half octaves in a single short flight, then rapidly ascends several long scales. The sheer delirium of the writing exceeds anything the composer’s father attempted, presaging the storm and stress of Haydn’s symphonies and even some of the wildness of the early Romantics. The intense Allegro di molto brings the work to a thrilling conclusion.

It Is Time [World Premiere Commission]
Don Jamison (1956- )

The title of my piece is from a short poem called “Autumn Day” by the 20th century German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Here are the opening lines:

Lord, it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your shadow now on the sundials
and let the wind loose on the fields.

As the cold winds of fall begin to blow, the afterglow of summer is still in the air. Maybe it’s a melancholy time, as the surging, burgeoning growth of summer begins to die back--but it also can be a time of alertness and renewal. For me, it is sometimes the beginning of an energetic part of the year that can last almost until spring, if I can keep the summer sun burning on in my heart and mind.

The music looks back at what summer brought, then forward with resolve toward the cold times that are coming. It begins with alternating waves of sound from the strings and winds which unfold the harmonies and bits of melody that will be explored. The flute introduces a melody made of a few simple motifs that then move through the orchestra for the next few minutes, changing and growing as they go, without much looking back. It’s a rendering of nature’s transformations that happen all around us through the summer. Then the music circles in place for a moment on a major chord that turns minor, and out of this the horns announce a theme that is related to what we’ve heard so far, but which is more determined and extended. It’s a kind of lopsided dance in a simple AAB form. Three variations follow: the first features the flute and a solo violin; the second features the oboes; the third brings back the horns, now in their high and powerful register, and the piece ends in an upward sweep.

I’m grateful to the VSO for the chance to write this piece, and I hope you enjoy it!

--Don Jamison

Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

After a trip to Vienna with his father during the winter of 1773-74, the eighteen year-old Mozart returned to Salzburg and, in a burst of new year creativity, wrote this piece almost at one sitting. One of the most striking works of its period, the Symphony No. 29 shows some traces of Viennese influence in its four-movement form, and in the increased seriousness that modifies Mozart’s early Italianate charm. There may also have been some influence from one of Mozart’s neighbors, Michael Haydn. Although overshadowed by his brother Joseph, “ the other Haydn” was quite a respectable composer who wrote a symphony in A Major that appears to have been Mozart’s model in creating his twenty-ninth symphony. Mozart seemed to prize this work, for in 1782 he scheduled it again on one of his distinguished concerts in Vienna.

I. Allegro moderato. First violins immediately state the first theme, an ingenious idea that consists of a descending octave and tightly-knit repeated half-steps. This latter part of the theme is seen as an early example of the chromatic expression that Mozart developed more fully in his adult life. A graceful second theme, again presented by the first violins, provides a foil to the first idea. Concise development leads to the restatement of the themes and the close of the movement.

II. Andante. Muted strings reveal both themes of this sonata form movement; generally the expression of the Andante is that of an operatic serenade. At the end, the winds take over for a few measures while the strings remove their mutes in preparation for the movement’s solid closing measures.

III. Menuetto. Filled with the spirit of 18-century Vienna, this minuet and trio transcend the polite Salzburg traditions and begin to suggest the grandeur of later symphonic expression.

IV. Allegro con spirito. The finale brims with vital scale passages and bustling strings. A certain opera buffa quality emerges as this sonata form movement flies to its closing coda.

Keep reading!

Monday, September 13, 2010

New merch in the VSO Store!

Visit the VSO Store today and make a secure purchase using PayPal. We have hoodies, hats, and tees, oh my! My favorite is the Birds & the Bees baby onesie. My favorite item that I can fit into is the hooded sweatshirt. I have the purple one on the right (even though I am on the left) and I wear it at least once a week! Don't want to buy over the web? Shoot me an e-mail at and I'll be happy to help you out that way. Check it out!

Keep reading!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Our annual free concert announced

Our annual free concert at the State House in Montpelier, the David M. Wilson Memorial Farmers' Night concert, has been announced!The program, led by Jaime Laredo, features two double concertos (one including a local youth soloist), a bassoon solo, and Mozart's ever-popular Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

David M. Wilson Memorial Farmers' Night Concert
Legislative Chambers, State House, Montpelier
Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 7:30 p.m.
Doors open at 6:45 p.m.
Free and open to the public

Jaime Laredo, conductor
Katherine Winterstein, violin
Dieuwke Davydov, cello
Joshua Morris, cello
Janet Polk, bassoon

VIVALDI Concerto for Two Violins in a minor
BURRILL PHILLIPS Concert Piece for Bassoon and Strings
VIVALDI Concerto for Two Cellos in g minor
MOZART Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Keep reading!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vermont Music Now 13: Richard Danielpour

Here is an episode of Vermont Music Now featuring composer Richard Danielpour. Click the following link to watch!

Keep reading!

Vermont Music Now 12: Sarah Hicks

Well, I guess this episode slipped under the Blog radar! It was supposed to be up here way back in May. This was a particularly entertaining taping for Vermont Music Now. Sarah Hicks and host David Ludwig have some history, which opened the door for lots of joking around. Enjoy! Read more to watch the video.

Keep reading!

VSO on VPR Classical tomorrow night (Sept. 8)

On Wednesday, September 8, beginning at 7 p.m., VPR Classical, VPR's 24-hour classical music network, will feature a recording of the VSO's September 2003 performance of Troy Peters' "Between Hills Briefly Green" as part of the nationally broadcast program, "Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin."

VPR's Cheryl Willoughby says, "Earlier this summer I was contacted by the producers of the national radio program, "Exploring Music With Bill McGlaughlin" because they were putting together a program called "Director's Choice", featuring music choices from a select handful of music programmers from around the country. I was asked to submit a few of my favorite pieces to share with the wider radio audience. I submitted four, and I learned today that three of them will be featured in the program airing on Sept. 8th. One of these is Troy Peters' "Between Hills Briefly Green", and the performance they're using will be a live concert recording with the VSO led by Jaime Laredo."

Tune in! Visit VPR's website for the VPR Classical station in your area. Keep reading!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sing in the VSO Chorus this holiday season!

Would you like to be a part of the some serious holiday cheer? Do you like to sing? Audition for the VSO Chorus this coming Wednesday, September 8,  at the Elley-Long Music Center in Colchester. E-mail our chorus co-coordinators, Pam and Ruth, for your audition slot. Rehearsals are on Saturdays; concerts are December 10-12. Get your pipes warmed up and come have some fun! Go to our website for more info about the VSO chorus. Keep reading!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Made in Vermont - three weeks from today!

OK, OK. I know! It's been around four months since our last post. I suppose things get a little hectic around VSO headquarters. We've been gearing up for our 2010/2011 season, which kicks off with our Made in Vermont Music Festival statewide tour. If you take a peek at the little Vermont graphic above, you'll see the areas we are visiting. Specifically, they are: Vergennes, Johnson, Lyndonville, Derby Line, Bellows Falls, Randolph, Woodstock, and Castleton. Do you live near one of these towns? Well, get on the horn (802-86-FLYNN) or visit FlynnTix for tickets to one of these intimate concerts. This year we feature Vermont composer Don Jamison, and three concerti featuring our very talented principal players. Heidi Soons, harpist, will play a concerto by Handel; Shelagh Abate, horn, will be featured in Rachmaninoff's Vocalise; and flutist Albert Brouwer will play CPE Bach's Flute Concerto in d minor. Conductor Anthony Princiotti rounds out the program with Mozart's Symphony No. 29. So come on down and listen to your Vermont Symphony Orchestra in action!
Keep reading!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Program notes: May 1 Masterworks Finale

The VSO brings its "Terezin Remembered" project and its 2009/2010 Masterworks Series to a close with a performance of Verdi's powerful Requiem. Whereas the evening Masterworks concert is sold out, we have opened the afternoon rehearsal to attendees. It begins at 2:30 p.m.; general admission tickets are $20. Get your tickets through the Flynn Box Office. Keep reading for program notes.

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

The remains of Alessandro Manzoni lay in state for several days in May of 1873 while Italy mourned. A huge throng including royalty and officers of state formed the funeral cortège that accompanied him to his final resting place in the cemetery of Milan. Absent was the one man who was to give Manzoni his greatest tribute: Giuseppe Verdi secluded himself with his grief over the loss of the poet-patriot he venerated so deeply. He said to his publisher Ricordi, "I shall come in the near future and visit his grave, alone and without witnesses and possibly (after much reflection and gauging of my own strength) make some proposal for the honoring of his memory."

Manzoni and Verdi met for the first time in 1868. By then, both men were national heroes. Italy was in the throes of an evolution which sought to return the state to the glorified national identity enjoyed during the Renaissance. It had been a long and impassioned effort led by powerful men with a variety of agendas, from the cool tactitian Cavour to the audacious Garibaldi and his personal army of “Red Shirts.” Manzoni strove to forge a national unity through the creation of the model for a modern Italian language, refining and establishing proper style and usage. With the publication in 1827 of his classic historical novel I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed) he became a cohesive literary influence for a divided Italy. At age 76 he was made senator to the parliament of King Victor Emmanuel II in 1861, but even so spent most of his time in a reclusive semi-retirement in Milan.

Verdi became allied with Italian nationalism through Nabucco, his first critical success. He identified with ordinary people and proclaimed himself "the least erudite among past and present composers.” Verdi became a symbol of resistance to Austrian domination via a chorus in Nabucco entitled "Va, pensiero" which voices the longing of Jewish exiles for home. Italians empathized with this yearning for freedom, and the tune became wildly popular throughout the country.

Verdi virtually worshipped Manzoni, referring to him as "the Saint," and although notables from all over the world (Goethe, Byron, Balzac) visited the writer, Verdi shrank from invading his privacy. It took a conspiracy between Verdi's wife Giuseppina and their close friend the Contessa Clarina Maffei to inveigle Verdi into an audience with his idol. During a visit to Milan, the Contessa introduced Giuseppina to Manzoni. On her return home, Verdi met his wife at the train station with a carriage, and in a letter to the Contessa, Giuseppina recounts her strategy:

I told him very quickly, at breakneck speed, how you had received me...had gone out with me...Wishing to push on as fast as possible, I said with affected indifference: "If you go to Milan I'll introduce you to Manzoni. He expects you, and I was there with her [Clarina] the other day....

Phew! The bombshell was so great and so unexpected that I didn't know whether I ought to open the carriage windows to give him air or close them, fearing that in the paroxysm of surprise and joy he would jump out. He went red, he turned deadly pale, he perspired; he took off his hat and screwed it up in a way that reduced it almost to shapelessness. Furthermore (this is between ourselves) the most severe and savage Bear of Busseto had his eyes full of tears, and both of us, moved, convulsed, sat there for ten minutes in complete silence. Oh, the power of genius, of virtue and of friendship!

Verdi later went to see Manzoni, and on his next birthday the composer received a card which read: "To Giuseppe Verdi, from a decrepit Lombard writer."

Ironically, the original impetus for the Requiem had nothing to do with Manzoni at all. It was the death of the Italian opera giant Rossini that inspired Verdi with the need to create such a commemorative work. Between 1810 and 1830, Rossini established a body of music devoted to bel canto singing and purity of melodic line which offered sublime entertainment for lovers of vocal music. Italian opera enjoyed an unchallenged supremacy in Europe, and this was an enormous spiritual step for a country laboring to produce a national identity. When Rossini died in 1868, Verdi was moved to honor his memory by suggesting a salute from his contemporaries for this most famous representative of Italian national tradition. In a letter to his editor he suggested:

"I think that to honour Rossini's memory a REQUIEM MASS should be composed by the most distinguished Italian composers...and performed on the anniversary of his death.

I think that not only the composers, but all the artists engaged in the performance, should not only offer their services for nothing but should also contribute enough to cover the expenses involved. I do not think that we should accept help from any foreign hand, or any hand alien to art, however powerful. If this condition were not observed, I should immediately withdraw from the association...

This composition -- however good the individual numbers may be -- will inevitably lack unity; but despite this defect it will still serve to demonstrate how profoundly we all venerate the man whose loss is deplored by the whole world...

Initially, the idea got off to a roaring start. A committee was formed, and Verdi took on the composition of the closing section of the Mass, the Libera me, Domine. Then petty disagreements and rivalries began to take their toll, and it became clear that nothing would be finished by the appointed day of performance, the anniversary of Rossini's death. Verdi himself called the project to a halt, remarking to a friend, “Ah, men of talent are almost always overgrown boys...."

Later that year a colleague and professor from the Milan Conservatory wrote of his admiration for the Libera me, and a flattered Verdi responded that he had considered writing a Requiem himself and even had ideas for the Requiem aeternum and Dies irae. At heart, Verdi considered the effort involved in writing a Requiem as nonremunerative: the composers of Italian operas were practical musicians, creating when stimulated by contract or promise of financial benefit. In this Verdi was no exception, and to the professor he wrote: "I have no taste for useless things, and there are so many Messe da morto -- only too many!!! It is pointless to add yet another to the list." Three years later, Manzoni lay in state and a grieving Verdi had a personal use for a Requiem.

Exactly one year from the day of Manzoni's death, an orchestra of 100 and a chorus of 120 assembled in the church of San Marco in Milan. An audience from all over Europe spilled out of the modest structure, and members of the press (including Wagner champion Hans von Bulow) were forced to view from the organ loft. Von Bulow called the work “an opera in ecclesiastical garb.” In fact, the two female soloists were the composer's Aïda and Amneris from his latest operatic triumph, and the Requiem itself was an unabashedly operatic approach to sacred music. Needless to say, the public loved it.

The Requiem exhibits the musical mastery of Verdi's operas. As in Rigoletto or La Forza del Destino, there is displayed a formal balance within the various sections and between them. The work as a whole is unified through the use of repetitions or references to a driving motif, that element being the Dies Irae theme. As for the carping done by Verdi's critics (one noted "a certain overload of the sensuous and of ardent southern emotionalism”), listeners from all countries knew a genuine musical phenomenon when they heard it. The fact of the matter is that this was a personal homage paid by the agnostic Verdi to the devoutly Catholic Manzoni, and the last word in defense of her husband's effort was given by his wife Giuseppina:

They talk about the more-or-less religious spirit of Mozart, Cherubini and others. I say that a man like Verdi must write like Verdi, that is, according to his own way of feeling and interpreting the text. The religious spirit and the way in which it is given expression must bear the stamp of its period and its author's personality.

-- Hilary Hatch

Indra Thomas, soprano
Judith Engel, alto
Steven Tharp, tenor
Kevin Deas, bass
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Monday, April 26, 2010

The Ultimate Red Sox Experience Raffle

The VSO is raffling off a seriously awesome prize this spring. I'm thinking of it as the Ultimate Red Sox Experience. I'm talking four tickets to the June 19 game versus the Dodgers, a PRIVATE charter flight from Burlington to Boston, limousine transportation from the airport to Fenway, and spending money. I heard a rumor that Leunig's on Church Street has thrown in a pre-flight dinner. The best part? Tickets are $50 and we're only going to sell 500, tops. Those are some pretty good odds. E-mail Mike to buy a ticket. You can also call (800) VSO-9293 x 25 to speak with Mike. Visit the raffle page on our website for the official rules, etc. Keep reading!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SymphonyKids Spotlight: DrumShtick

The VSO's Musicians-in-the-Schools ensembles travel the state delighting and inspiring schoolchildren with music. DrumShtick, one of seven M-I-S ensembles, is our percussion trio. Their show, "Music Means the World to Me," explores a culturally diverse repertoire and includes demonstrations of non-Western instruments. Through their sometimes zany humor the musicians introduce children both to general musical concepts and to the family of percussion instruments. Keep reading for a video of DrumShtick filmed at the VCAM studio for our television show, On Stage, and for more information bringing the trio to your neighborhood school.

This group normally presents three 45-minute shows a day, which can be in three different schools if they are close enough geographically. All presentations are most appropriate for elementary age students. The cost is $285 per performance, or $850 for a full day. Subsidy money is often available, especially if schools help set up bookings. For more information or to book a Musicians-in-the-Schools ensemble, please e-mail or call (800) VSO-9293 x 14.
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Terezin Remembered

Terezin Remembered is a collection of cultural events commemorating the 65th anniversary of a story of the inextinguishable human spirit. Click here for a complete list of events. Included in this compendium are an art exhibit of works created by those incarcerated, a lecture, a chamber music concert consisting of works composed in the camp, and our Masterworks Series finale: a performance of Verdi's Requiem (plus a pre-concert symposium with survivors of the concentration camp). The only way to get your hands on a ticket to this concert is by contacting The Essex Resort and Spa about their special concert package. Call (800) 727-4295 and ask for the Terezin Remembered Package. You may also choose to attend the open rehearsal on the afternoon of May 1. Tickets are available through FlynnTix. Below is a video interview with Susi Learmonth, a member of the Upper Valley Friends of the VSO, whose family was interned at Terezin.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Program Notes: March 20 & 21, 2010

Back by popular demand, guest conductor Sarah Hicks leads the orchestra as our music director and his wife share their artistry in Richard Danielpour’s moving tribute to the healing power of music. “Simple Gifts” refers to the Shaker melody Copland used in his beloved ballet; our concert package also contains hot-blooded music from Mozart and De Falla, and salutes to the vernal equinox.

Saturday, March 20, 8 PM Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington

Sunday, March 21, 4 PM Paramount Theatre, Rutland

Sarah Hicks, conductor
Jaime Laredo, violin
Sharon Robinson, cello

Keep reading for program notes. Visit the VSO's biographies page to read about our guest artists.

Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio, K. 384
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Mozart’s first great public triumph in Vienna was his comic opera The Abduction from the Seraglio, first produced on July 16, 1782. Mozart had just left what he called his “slavery” to the arrogant Archbishop of Salzburg, he was a success in the musical capital of the world, and he was in love. No wonder Seraglio is filled with youthful exultation! Carl Maria von Weber called it “a picture of what every man’s joyous, youthful years are to him, years the bloom of which he will never recapture.” This opera went far beyond the usual limits of the tradition with its long, elaborately written songs (hence Emperor Joseph II’s famous observation: “Too many notes, my dear Mozart.”) Despite the Emperor’s opinion, the work was a great success, and was taken into the repertories of many provincial companies (for which Mozart did not, however, receive any compensation).

The story of the opera is a Spanish nobleman’s attempted rescue of his fiancée from Turkish captivity. Turkish plots were popular in 18th century plays, operas, and novels, and Turkish music (Janissary music) had a special vogue in Vienna during Mozart’s day. The composer wrote to his father that the overture to his opera was very short and kept alternating loud and soft, with Turkish music in the loud passages. “It modulates on and on, from key to key, so that I don’t believe anyone could fall asleep, even if he hadn’t slept at all the whole night before.”

A Child’s Reliquary
Richard Danielpour (1956- )

The composer writes: “When I began composing A Child’s Reliquary in the summer of 1999, I had just learned of the tragic death of 18-month old Cole Carson St. Clair, the child of Carl and Susan St. Clair. Carl St. Clair is a great American conductor (the music director of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra in Los Angeles) and a dear friend and colleague. I was stunned upon hearing this news and found that the music I began to write that summer was all a series of variations on, or around, the Brahms Wiegenlied (“Cradle Song”). I could not get the Wiegenlied out of my mind during that time, nor could I stop thinking about the child who had drowned in a strange accident before reaching his second birthday. In many ways, A Child’s Reliquary was about not only the death of this child, but also about the death of innocence. The work is entitled A Child’s Reliquary because the piece is not unlike a musical shrine, with the outer first and third movements evoking public and private aspects of mourning, while the middle movement represents a flashback or snapshot of somewhat happier times.”

The work, which was originally written for string trio, was commissioned by the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio and premiered in April of 2000. It has been performed by the same group over twenty times in the U.S. and Europe since that time. In 2006, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra commissioned Danielpour to create the present orchestral version of the work.

Suite No. 1 from The Three-Cornered Hat
Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

Manuel de Falla was the most important Spanish composer of the 20th century. As a youth he was equally interested in literature and music, and later became quite well known for his articles about music and for writing his own librettos. He eventually leaned toward composition and enrolled at the Madrid Conservatory. In 1907 Falla took an engagement as an accompanist for a tour of France and settled in Paris for the next seven years. He returned to Madrid a well-established composer. In 1920, seeking a quieter lifestyle, he moved to Granada. Although not directly involved with the Spanish Civil War, he did attempt (unsuccessfully) to intervene in the execution of his good friend Federico García Lorca. He was all too happy to leave when offered a conducting post in Argentina in 1939, and lived the rest of his life there.

The Three-Cornered Hat, or El Sombrero de Tres Picos, was first conceived as a pantomime ballet in two scenes. It was based on the novella, The Governor and the Miller's Wife, by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, and the music drew liberally from Andalusian folk music. Sergei Diaghilev, famed impresario of the Ballets Russes, saw the premiere in 1917 and commissioned Falla to expand the work to a full ballet. Pablo Picasso was engaged to create the sets and costumes, and the premiere took place on July 22, 1919 at London’s Alhambra Theatre.

The story is a humorous tale of a magistrate who becomes infatuated with the wife of a miller, has him arrested on trumped-up charges, and then tries to seduce her. It includes such time-honored theatrical comedy traditions as pratfalls, clothes-swapping, and seduction-as-revenge, with everybody happy at the end except possibly the lecherous magistrate. Falla extracted two orchestral suites from the score, both of which have become staples of the repertoire. The first includes music that sets scenes, introduces characters, and moves the plot along. The opening fanfare was intended to highlight Picasso’s bullring-inspired curtain, and leads directly into the opening scene of the ballet. A bassoon solo introduces the magistrate, who is teased and mocked by the dances of the miller’s wife. As she picks grapes from the vineyard she leads him in a dance that ends with him tripping and falling, and the miller rejoins her to reprise the fandango.

--Gabriel Langfur

Upon Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
Frederick Delius (1862-1934)

An English composer of German parentage, Delius lived for most of his life in France, yet his music most often evokes a sense of the English landscape. He is sometimes called an “English Impressionist.” Sir Thomas Beecham, the British conductor who championed his music, is largely responsible for his fame. Delius’ family had discouraged him from pursuing music as a profession, but while working on an orange plantation in Florida for a couple of years, he studied music in his spare time. He proved to be a better composer than orange grower, and soon was supporting himself as a musician. His friend Edvard Grieg helped persuade his family to allow him to move to Paris and begin living the life of an artist. Delius’ writing was strongly influenced by Grieg, and in fact “On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring,” one of his most popular works, is a sort of meditation on one of Grieg’s Norwegian Folk Tunes (No. 14, Op. 66). It dates from the happy period of his life before the ravages of syphilis rendered him almost a complete invalid. Interestingly, his mind and speech remained unimpaired even after he was blind and almost completely paralyzed, and he continued actively composing with the aid of Eric Fenby, his musical amanuensis. Often paired with his “Summer Night on the River,” the work breaks each melody into phrases, and lingeringly develops each phrase in various colors as the clarinet repeats the cuckoo’s familiar call.

Suite from Appalachian Spring
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Arguably Copland's best known work, Appalachian Spring was commissioned by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge for Martha Graham's dance company. It was completed in 1944 and premiered that same year, with Martha herself dancing a principal role in the production. The following spring it received the Pulitzer Prize for music and the Music Critics Circle award for outstanding theatrical work of the season.

Copland's notes for the orchestral suite, which he arranged a year later, state: "…the music of the ballet takes as its point of departure the personality of Martha Graham." He mentions also that the title was chosen by Miss Graham, who borrowed it from one of Hart Crane's poems. Copland describes the action thus: "…A pioneer celebration in spring around a newly-built farmhouse in the Pennsylvania hills in the early part of the last century. The bride-to-be and the young farmer-husband enact the emotions, joyful and apprehensive, which their new domestic partnership invites. An older neighbor suggests now and then the rocky confidence of experience. A revivalist and his followers remind the new householders of the strange and terrible aspects of human fate. At the end the couple are left quiet and strong in their new house.”

The original score was for chamber orchestra, but the more frequently heard concert arrangement for full orchestra was intended for use in larger halls.

The movements of the suite are linked in a continuous whole. Towards the end of the piece is heard the famous Shaker melody “’Tis a Gift To Be Simple” with five variations. Although this is the only true quotation from American hymnody, the style and spirit of devotional music prevail throughout. This is in keeping with Copland’s own assertion that composers who use folk melodies must “re-express in their own terms the underlying emotional connotations of the material.”

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