Monday, October 19, 2015

From the Wings, by Eleanor Long

This year we decided to simplify things and drop “Music Festival” from the title of our fall tour, just calling it “Made in Vermont.”  In honor of that fact, the speakers who introduced the concerts came clean with their origin stories.  In Johnson, violinist Hilary Hatch confessed that she was born in New Jersey, but has lived in Vermont for 33 years, and “is here for the duration.”  In Derby Line, Dirk Elston, representing the North Country Friends, revealed he was made in Ohio; three days later in Lyndon he sang the same tune, but wearing a different hat--having just been elected to the VSO’s Governing Board of Directors.  In Castleton, violinist Jane Kittredge did NOT shock a mostly-college-student audience, “I was made in Vermont, although this isn’t a topic I like to dwell on, considering the parties involved are here tonight.  Go, Mom and Dad!”  In Bellows Falls, local Board chair Dutch Walsh said he was not made in Vermont, but his three grandchildren (all at the concert) were.  Violinist Melanie Dexter shared that she was made in Rochester, and wasn’t able to escape for 22 years; however, she and her husband “made” a Vermonter.  In Randolph, cellist Bonnie Klimowski said she was made in New Jersey, but her parents were “gung ho” Vermonters, and the sojourn in the Garden State was brief.  She said her dad, who grew up in tiny Island Pond in the Northeast Kingdom, maintained that he walked to school all winter through chest-high snowdrifts!  In St. Albans, oboist Katie Oprea gave a synopsis of this family history:  “I was born in St. Albans, at the old St. Albans hospital where my grandmother did her nurse’s training back in the 30s.  This building is now part of Bellows Free Academy, where my son goes to school.”  (And where our concert was taking place!) “Alex is the fourth generation of my family to attend BFA:  my grandfather was a student there when the building was new.”  Although (full disclosure) Katie says she was made in Maine…if we were holding a contest, I’d say she wins hands down!

As for other participants in “Made in Vermont,” Jaime Laredo, of course, was made in Bolivia.  Jennifer Jolley, our commission composer, was made in Los Angeles, but came to Vermont, “maybe following Ben & Jerry?” but also because she wanted to experience snow.  After four years, she’d experienced enough!  But she loved being back for this tour.  Sue Jenkins from the Champlain Valley Friends, who introduced the Vergennes concert,  didn’t tell the crowd (but told me) that she was born in St. Louis but moved here in 1965—another win for the Green Mountain State.  Violinist Sofia Hirsch was born in Ontario, but moved to Vermont when she was 11.  Flutist Alison Hale was born in New Hampshire, but married a Vermonter who was born in Brattleboro, and they live in the same house he grew up in!  Joy Worland, French horn, was born in Indiana, but her mother was a New Englander who got two degrees from the University of Vermont, and taught high school in White River Junction.  Joy relates, “She never completely reconciled herself to Middle America, and obviously neither did I!”  (Joy and her family have recently relocated to Montpelier from Nashville.)

We had a doorprize at each concert, a bag of “double” gifts as a nod to the Bach Double Concerto.  Winners received double fudge brownie mix, double-stuffed oreos, double-dipped chocolate peanuts, doublemint gum, and (wait for it) double-acting baking powder.  Flutist Anne Janson, who handled the  giveaway at each concert, got a good laugh from each audience as she announced “I WAS made in Vermont.”