In memoriam: Carolyn Elley Long

Dear Friends,

It is with great sadness that we share with you that Carolyn Long passed away yesterday at the age of 98. It is difficult to put into words our admiration and gratitude for a woman who was the heart and the drive of the VYOA for so many years. Her tireless work had a direct impact on the lives of thousands of young musicians over the years, and on the greater musical community of Vermont due to her role in the creation of the Elley-Long Music Center. She truly believed in the value of music in a young person’s life, and for that we will be forever grateful. The VYOA would not be the amazing organization that it is today without her vision and support.

Please stay tuned as we make plans to honor her life and legacy. If you have memories and photos of Mrs. Long that you would like to share, please send them to or mail them to VYOA, 223 Ethan Allen Avenue, Colchester, VT 05446.

Elley-Long transforms into Hogwarts!

We take Halloween very seriously here at the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. Each year we try to wow our students with great costumes and decor. This year, the staff chose a Harry Potter theme and really ran with it! Mia, our Operations Assistant, did a fabulous job on the decorations. Her homemade hanging candles really helped transform the building into Hogwarts. All of our faculty and staff put together great costumes! We had Harry & Hedwig, Dumbledore & Fawkes, Professor McGonagall, two Hagrids, Professor Snape, and Mrs. Weasley. Bravi to all involved in making this year’s Harry Potter Halloween our best yet!

October’s “From the Podium” A Message from our Music Director

Our third annual Autumn Promenade was a spectacularly memorable event. One of the highlights for me was conducting our combined instrumental and vocal forces in the evening’s musical finale: Gloria in excelsis, from Vivaldi’s Gloria. Since 2007, the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association has offered vocal ensemble opportunities designed to empower young Vermonters to develop a lifelong passion for singing. Our vocal students perform great choral repertoire under the guidance of expert conductors, who are recognized as educational leaders in our state. They also take part—as they did at Autumn Promenade—in important collaborations with their instrumental peers at the VYOA. Choral-orchestral performances provide our students valuable experiences that broaden their artistic understanding, and expose them to a wider range of inspiring repertoire.

As I conducted the first rehearsal for our performance of the Gloria, I watched with excitement to see musical discoveries being made by players and singers alike while they worked together. One of the great privileges of my role as music director is facilitating occasions like this, when our students’ musical horizons expand before their very ears. Thank you to everyone who helped make Autumn Promenade a wonderful evening for our friends and supporters, as well as an important musical experience for our talented students.

Don’t miss the next choral-orchestral offering at the VYOA—it’ll be a new and inspiring feature of this year’s OrchestraChorusPalooza!

Musically Yours,
Benjamin Klemme
Music Director

Stream now, Tune into RETN this Friday!

See broadcasts of the Vermont Youth Orchestra’s thrilling first installment of “Tchaikovsky in Vermont,” their 2017-2018 exploration of Piotr I. Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. This VYO Fall Concert, the first under the direction of new music director Dr. Benjamin Klemme, was performed at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on September 24, 2017 and features the world premiere of a new poem by Sydney Lea, former Vermont poet laureate, and a stirring solo flute performance by Israel Patterson. Filming and broadcasting of VYO subscription performances are made possible by the generous media partnership of RETN—please join the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association in thanking them for their support!

*This show will premiere on RETN Channel 16 and BTVHD Channel 216 on Friday, October 20th at 9:00 PM. Additional air times will be posted online as they are scheduled.

In addition, audio of this performance is now available for streaming and download through Instant Encore by clicking here

September’s From the Podium: A message from our Music Director

This past Sunday fifteen 2nd-through-5th graders gathered at Elley-Long Music Center and became orchestral musicians as the first members of the VYOA’s new year-long beginner string ensemble program: Prelude! Having had no previous string-playing experience, they were introduced to their conductor, given instruments, and even played their first orchestral piece together. Meanwhile, the Vermont Youth Orchestra was down the hall rehearsing Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in preparation for their first subscription concert of the season. This concurrent display of the range of music learning opportunities available to young Vermonters through our weekly programming was mirrored chorally when, later in the week, members of the Vermont Youth Chorus and Chorale invited friends to attend Bring a Friend Night. Our middle and high school guests explored great repertoire alongside peers with shared musical interests and under the expert guidance of the VYOA’s passionate vocal educators. Thank you for supporting the VYOA, and for helping us spread the word as we work together to inspire every child to fill our world with music.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Vermont Youth Philharmonia Fall Concert on September 23 at Elley-Long, and the Vermont Youth Orchestra’s first installment of “Tchaikovsky in Vermont” at the Flynn on September 24.

Benjamin Klemme
Music Director

August’s From the Podium: A message from our Music Director


As summer nears its end and another school year approaches, our instrumental and vocal ensembles have been busy kicking off the VYOA’s 54th season. The Elley-Long Music Center is once again filled with the energy and talent of our incredible students, and we invite you to join us for what promises to be a uniquely inspiring year.

There are many ways to get involved with the exciting musical discovery happening at the VYOA: follow us on social media @VYOAorg, visit a rehearsal, attend a concert, volunteer at one of our many events, and—if you play an instrument—plan to join us for a special community-wide play-along of the final movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony on April 29. Thank you for supporting life-changing music learning opportunities for young Vermonters. Without your partnership our programming would not be possible, and we look forward to celebrating our students’ artistic achievements with you throughout the 2017-2018 season.

Join us for Tchaikovsky in Vermont!
Benjamin Klemme
Music Director


Billy Ray Poli Joins the VYOA!

Billy Ray Poli has been named Conductor of the Vermont Youth Chorale. Billy Ray is currently the Choral/Vocal director at Burlington High School. He conducts the Concert Chorus, Senior Chorus and Vermont Voices, Burlington High School’s select auditioned group. He also teaches Intro level Piano,Theory and AP Music Theory. Billy Ray graduated from the University of Rhode Island as a double major in both vocal performance and music education. During his time in Rhode Island he competed both at the state, and regional level, and performed as a guest performer in many of Opera Providence’s productions. Billy Ray moved to Vermont in summer of 2013 and began his teaching career at Chelsea Public School, where he taught K-12 Music, created and fostered an award winning after school theater program, and also implemented an in school private lesson program under the Steve Ibey Scholarship fund. Since being in Vermont he has been the music director for many different theater companies including; Chandler Music Hall’s Fourth of July Musical, Flynn Teen Summer Musicals, Burlington High School Musicals, South Royalton Players and is looking forward to conducting his first show for the Stowe Theatre Guild in the summer of 2017. He also sits on the board of ACDA as the Chair for Jazz and Show Choirs, and was just named District III Chair. Billy Ray is a frequent adjudicator, clinician, voice teacher and guest conductor at many choral festival in and around the state of Vermont.

Welcome Billy Ray!