May – From the Podium

May is an especially rewarding month at the VYOA! As our 54th season comes to a close, we celebrate a fulfilling year of artistic growth while making preparations for a new season of musical discovery. On behalf of everyone at the VYOA, congratulations to all of our musicians and families on an extraordinary season. Thank you for your dedication to musical excellence, and for making the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association a place where everyone can develop not only lifelong skills, but also enduring friendships.

One important part of preparing for our 2018-2019 season is holding spring auditions. Throughout this process, our musicians demonstrate the progress they’ve made this year, and we meet many new students who will join our musical family next fall. I feel privileged to witness this process, because hearing these auditions is like looking into the future. Today’s VYOA musicians are becoming tomorrow’s leaders, individuals who already employ their talent and ideas to enrich our community. As I observe the confidence, creativity, and clarity with which our students represent themselves, it’s inspiring to imagine the vibrant future they are promoting throughout Vermont and beyond.

Musically Yours,
Benjamin Klemme
Music Director

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Greta Hardy-Mittell, clarinet

Middlebury Union High
VT Youth Orchestra – 3 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 year

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you love about being in an orchestra?
Orchestra is my favorite part of playing clarinet. It is such an ensemble experience, with a rich texture combining all the sounds of almost every classical instrument, but its clarinet parts are also individually so much fun! Playing orchestra music sends chills down my back because it’s so beautiful.

What role has the VYOA played in your musical career?
Without the VYOA, I don’t think I’d be the musician I am today. I probably wouldn’t have done so many festivals, I might not even have taken private clarinet lessons, and I certainly wouldn’t have played so much fantastic repertoire! VYO proved to me that I am a good clarinetist, along with introducing me to perhaps my favorite type of classical music.

What would you like to change in the orchestral world?
More representation of women and people of color! I have yet to have had an orchestra conductor who is not a white or Asian man, and I would especially love to one day have a woman conductor, being a girl who might be interested in conducting at some point in my life.

What has been your most inspiring or memorable musical experience?
Along those lines: in All States my freshman year, our band conductor was a woman whom I really looked up to and enjoyed working with. On the last day of the festival, she arranged the band in a circle and invited students into the middle to look at the score and conduct. Little freshman me, shy but eager, raised her hand and walked into the middle, trembling. The experience of standing there with a fantastic ensemble playing all around me will never leave me, and it certainly pushed me forward to keep pursuing music in ensembles and improving at the clarinet throughout my next three years of high school.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?
Probably the day when Dr. Cumming (2016-17 Interim VYO Conductor) decided to take about half of rehearsal to tell us about his experiences with Tom Hanks and Yo Yo Ma! We all just sat there in awe and looked at each other like, is this guy for real? Is this guy really our orchestra conductor? And he was!

Apart from orchestral music, what other kind of music do you love?
Piano repertoire (obviously), especially romantic pieces. I also love jazz, funk, indie/folk/pop, 80s stuff, and musicals!

What other activities do you participate in?
Too many! I love to write creatively, play scholar’s bowl, and run cross country, to name a few.

If you already know, what college or university do you plan to attend next year?
Carleton College, in Northfield, Minnesota!

What do you plan to study in college?
Maybe Environmental Studies, English, or Linguistics, or maybe something completely different that I haven’t even taken a class in yet. I definitely plan to keep playing music, too, especially solo piano and, you got it, orchestra!

VYOA Senior Spotlight!

Kairo’s Battaile, bassoon
Burlington High
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 ½ years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel Conner, violin
Essex High
VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Strings – 1 year
Presto – 1 session

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you love about being in an orchestra?

Conner: I love the feeling of being in the middle of a big orchestra, being completely engulfed in the sounds and being able to hear details in the music you might not notice from listening in the audience.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?

Battaile: Switching to playing the bassoon a year and a half ago, from having played the clarinet. No offense to clarinetists though! I just love the bassoon.

What role has the VYOA played in your musical career?

Conner: The VYOA has given me the opportunity to play in a full symphony orchestra with musicians who are truly dedicated to the music and their instruments. I’ve been really musically inspired by the atmosphere of VYO and the people involved in it.

What would you like to change in the orchestral world?

Battaile: More jazz bassoons! It’s a formidable instrument with many different applications

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

Conner: I would advise younger music students to practice a lot, and spend time watching musicians they admire play. You can learn so much just from watching and listening.

What has been your most inspiring or memorable musical experience?

Battaile: Playing in the jazz band at BHS – it showed me a new approach to playing music in general!

Apart from orchestral music, what other kind of music do you love?

Conner: I’ve recently been really into string quartets and piano quintets. I pretty much love anything impressionist as well.

What other activities do you participate in?

Battaile: Nordic skiing and drama club

What do you plan to study in college?

Conner: I plan to major in business and minor in music.

Battaile: Paleontology at Queens University or University of Alberta.

 

A Chorus of Leaders

By Caleb Pillsbury, conductor – Vermont Youth Chorus

 

The students of the Vermont Youth Chorus (VYC) represent the best of Vermont and I am so fortunate to know and work with each of them. Reflecting on the freshly concluded VYC season, I’m charged by the infectious energy of their performance last night. I am tremendously proud of the student leaders represented in the VYC this season. Their focus in performance, dedication to vocal development and commitment to excellence has been a joy to behold. I am excited by the idea of building off our accomplishments this season as the VYC grows in the future. I look forward to hearing all current members in their auditions on May 29th or 30th, and I cannot wait to meet the new student leaders that will join this remarkable community dedicated to musical excellence.

The spirit of the Vermont Youth Chorus (VYC) is a special thing. The students of the VYC are leaders and their participation in the VYOA gives them the opportunity to come together, inspire each other and then return to their communities sharing this thrilling feeling of energy and connection. This season, our work in studying the “Songs of a Rainbow Nation” from South Africa gave singers opportunities to share what they learned with their peers. It was wonderful to see VYC members teach this music during school tours and African Song Workshops, experiencing the deep connection that singing together provides. What these students have created this season is an understanding that being a member of the VYC means being a member of a community of leaders. This year’s ensemble has built the foundation for a truly outstanding choral experience for all upcoming student leaders statewide.

VYS Cellist featured in Kids VT

Ann Mindell plays drums in the Nancy Druids, the band she formed with her husband, Sean Toohey. Their daughter, Ariel, is an accomplished cellist who plays with Vermont Youth Strings, part of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. - SAM SIMON

Ariel and her mom, Ann were featured in the March edition of “Parent Portrait”. They talk about playing music together. Ariel has performed with them at Radio Bean. How cool is that?! Check out their musical portrait here.

 

VYO Chorus Senior Spotlight!

Rebecca Gardner, voice
South Burlington High
VT Youth Chorus – 3 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?
The first thing I would tell younger music students is don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. When I was younger I would hold back because these were fears of mine.

 

What has been your most inspiring or memorable musical experience?
My most inspiring/memorable musical experience happened when I was a sophomore. My choir was performing in St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City, and my choir teacher let me do one of my solos. The sound was phenomenal and breathtaking.

 

What is your favorite VYOA memory?
My favorite VYOA memory is probably when we went to Free Cone day during our school tours.

 

Apart from choral music, what other kind of music do you love?
You’d be surprised, but I’m very fond of classic rock, rap, and musical theater.

 

What do you plan to study in college?
I plan to study Classical Voice Performance next year!

 

 

 

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Lucca Abele, violin
North Country Union High
VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years
VT Youth Sinfonia – 1 year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Bever, violin
South Burlington High
VT Youth Orchestra – 4 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years
VT Youth Sinfonia – 2 years
VT Youth Strings – 1 year
Presto – 5 sessions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you love about being in an orchestra chorus?

Abele: My favorite part about being in orchestra is playing with other people that love playing their instrument as much as I do.

Bever: I love that the VYOA has been in my family for years. My mom and her siblings all grew up in South Burlington and played in very different sections of the orchestra. It just makes the VYO feel that much more like family.

What role has the VYOA played in your musical career?

Bever: The VYOA has given me an opportunity to explore music as a group. I love to explore and learn about the music I play by myself, but when we talk to each other during rehearsal about the history of these large symphonies and the composers who wrote them, I always learn something special about each and every instrument in the orchestra.

What other activities do you participate in?

Abele: Outside of the VYOA, I run cross country, nordic ski, and run track. I also play in my school’s pit band and teach violin lessons.

Apart from orchestral music, what other kind of music do you love?

Bever: I listen to so many different types of music! My favorite music to listen to is from the 80’s such as New Order, The Cure, Ministry, and The Smiths. Some of my favorite artists and music groups from this decade, though, are Beach Fossils, Little Dragon, Mac DeMarco, and the Pixies. I also listen to so much classical music I couldn’t list favorites. I love everything.

What college or university do you plan to attend next year?

Abele: I plan to attend Oberlin College next year, studying Environmental Studies and Music.

Bever: I am very excited to attend Case Western Reserve University as a Music and Biology double major next year. I will be taking classes at the Cleveland Institute of Music while studying as a Pre-Med student at CWRU. It’s the best of both worlds!

VYO Senior Spotlight!

We have several students throughout our ensembles who travel quite a distance to get to rehearsal each week. Here is one such student from our string section!

 

Max Lozier, double bass
Rutland High
VT Youth Orchestra – 3 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you love about being in an orchestra?

The thing I love most about performing in an orchestral group is communicating through my instrument. Regardless of skill or musical capabilities, the possibility of musical expression is endless. I especially love playing in multiple groups with younger and older musicians who all have diverse sounds, with equally diverse representations of what the music means to them.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?

My biggest break through in music was trying out for Allstate’s my freshmen year. Up until that point I was known as an athlete rather than a musician and it was almost embarrassing to be a part of my schools orchestra. Freshmen year I was the 5th bassist in districts and I almost wanted to quit. But I realized why do something different or “embarrassing” if I’m going to be bad at it. So, I worked with a bassist named Ben Greene on my audition piece. And come time for the audition I won the principal spot. At this festival I was introduced to members of the VYO staff and auditioned for the next season.

What role has the VYOA played in your musical career?

The VYOA’s role in my musical career has been to teach me the necessary skills I need to be a musician. These skills include being able to meet new people and work in a focused environment for a long period of time.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

My advice to young music students is to say yes to every single opportunity you get. If you are serious about music, an extremely important part of becoming a professional musician is the people you know. So by branching out and meeting more people you will have a better chance at knowing a powerful person in the musical world. And if you love performing music then you’ll have fun while doing it.

What would you like to change in the orchestral world?

I would like to change the accessibility of classic music to the average person. I know a lot of people who love classical music but can’t afford to travel or pay for a ticket. There should be a stronger effort to make classical music events cheaper or more localized.

What has been your most inspiring or memorable musical experience?

My most inspiring musical experience was playing in the All-Honors National Orchestra Festival at Disney last November. I flew to Florida and played Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, and a student composition. I met truly the most talented high school musicians in the country and they were all so kind and interested in each other’s story. Just sitting on the edge of the stage playing my bass and listening to the pure genius the group produced was sublime. I inspire to make it into an orchestra where I can have this same experience on a regular basis.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

My favorite memory has been the VYO’s journey of Tchaikovsky 5. I am extremely excited to finish my VYO career with such a powerful piece.

Apart from orchestral/choral music, what other kind of music do you love?

I love Nirvana and Metallica, I grew up listening to both bands with my dad. I especially like the grunginess of Nirvana’s sound, they were revolutionary and would still be to this day.

If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would like to collaborate with the band PHISH. They have such an incredible fan base and great traditions I would love to be a part of.

What other activities do you participate in?

I used to play football and basketball but music has in a good way, completely taken over my life. I play in community orchestras, the green mountain Mahler festival, jazz groups, pit bands for theatre groups, and often try to volunteer for younger Rutland Musicians as much as possible. But when I’m not playing bass I’m usually playing pick-up basketball with friends.

If you already know, what college or university do you plan to attend next year?

I’m not sure yet, I’m still in the auditioning progress. I would like to move to a city however to have more opportunities.

What do you plan to study in college?

I plan to study double bass performance as well as music education.

 

 

 

 

VYO Senior Spotlight!

This week we introduce two musicians that you can’t always see on stage, but you can certainly hear them!

 

Avi Bauer, percussion
Mount Mansfield Union High
VT Youth Orchestra – 1 year
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nathan Arre, trumpet
Burlington High
VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years

 

 

 

 

 

What do you love about being in an orchestra?
Arre: I love the experience of such a large group working towards a common goal of perfecting our music, all helping each other along the way.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?
Bauer: Getting my first good sounding drum roll.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?
Arre: New ideas introduced by your instructor or conductor might seem crazy, but music is crazy, and they’re usually right.

What would you like to change in the orchestral world?
Bauer: I’d like there to be a bigger appreciation for it among young adults. The majority of high schoolers think classical music is stupid and boring but it’s quite the opposite, and I wish more kids my age realized that.

What has been your most inspiring or memorable musical experience?
Arre: Studying Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony this year has made me pay closer attention to all my music, and performing the piece has been an eye-opening experience.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?
Arre: I made so many amazing new friends throughout the years in the VYOA. I treasure every moment, in or out of rehearsal, that I got to spend with them.
Bauer: Meeting all my friends that I have now. S/O to the Ratchat

Apart from orchestral music, what other kind of music do you love?
Bauer: Everything except country. I’ve been on a Punk/Hardcore/Midwest Emo binge right now and I’m really enjoying it.
Arre: Pretty much anything except country, although right now I’m really into Hippo Campus and Charles Mingus.

If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Arre: The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’ve always thought they could use a trumpet solo or two.
Bauer: There’s this artist named Cuco and I’d love to do some Lofi Hip Hop drum loops for him.

If you already know, what college or university do you plan to attend next year?
Arre: I’ll be playing with the Marine Band for the next four years, and then hopefully enrolling at the Hartt School of Music, studying Music Production.
Bauer: I don’t know exactly but it’s a choice between Montana State or The San Francisco Conservatory Of Music, studying Music Performance.

 

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Meet two members of the VYO flute section! Where we find one of them, we usually find the other.

Fiona Reed, flute (pictured on right with Addy Parsons)
Stowe High
VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Addy Parsons, flute (pictured on left with Fiona Reed)
Middlebury Union High
VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?

Reed: I have known my flute teacher for 13 years now, and have been taking lessons from her for 7. I’m going to be leaving her studio soon, which will be a pretty emotional moment for both of us. After my last All-State audition this winter, she and I had this moment where we were trying to figure out what to play for my last piece; I’ll always play flute in the future, but since I’m not going into music, these last six months or so will be my “last hurrah.” Together, we settled on Sergei Prokofiev’s flute sonata, which is an incredibly difficult piece that I have listened to and been in awe of for a very long time. I’m determined to learn all thirty minutes of it and even though there is no big audition or award at the end, I have never been more excited to practice!

What role has the VYOA played in your musical career?

Parsons: VYOA exposed me to playing the piccolo and ever since it has been my favorite instrument to play. It has led to opportunities like New Englands, Allstates, and the Allstate Performance Scholarship in which I have all competed on piccolo.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

Reed: Try to love what you do. It’s okay to have really intense, metronome-heavy practice sessions leading up to an audition where you’re working really hard and trying to get every technical detail down, but some days, you’re just going to sound bad and keep messing up. And that’s okay! Sometimes, I like to pull out old music that I performed a few years ago or some other favorite pieces and go into my bathroom where the acoustics are great and just play. Just because you aren’t practicing that audition piece doesn’t mean that what you are doing isn’t useful. I find it really nice to “return to my roots” when I’m super stressed about something and just remember why I love my instrument. To me, it’s very important for my morale to take a step back and reaffirm how much I enjoy music.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

Reed: I think that every day in rehearsal I make some amazing VYO memories with my friends, from laughing at the mistakes we make in the flute section to sharing lame classical music memes and pictures of our pets. I have met some great people through this organization who continue to astonish me with their humor and incredible talents. Rehearsing Franz Doppler’s double flute concerto with Addy Parsons has to take the cake, though; the two of us drove all over Vermont for our various rehearsals and had a great time mastering the piece together. Not only was it great music–it was a perfect excuse to hang out and have fun!

Parsons: I was in VYP my first year and didn’t really know anyone in the ensemble, but I was determined to make a friend. So, during a break, I turned to the flute player sitting next to me and asked her for help on this one part in the music. She enthusiastically lent a hand. Later, she said her name was Fiona, and we were joined at the hip for the rest of the day. We have been the best of friends ever since, all thanks to VYOA.

Apart from orchestral music, what other kind of music do you love?

Reed: My love of classical music has led me to explore the world of opera. Puccini is my favorite composer–“Turandot” and “Tosca” are his best, in my opinion, but I’m attending “La Boheme” at the Met in about a week. I also listen to a lot of Warren Zevon and Bruce Springsteen. As for modern music, Jon Bellion and Emily Sande are pretty much always on while I’m doing homework.

If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Parsons: Emmanuel Pahud. He is a flute god.

What other activities do you participate in?

Reed: I am an avid downhill skier who sticks mainly to woods trails. I am also a member of my town’s volunteer fire department, where I most enjoy using various power tools to cut apart crashed vehicles and maneuvering our hundred-foot aerial ladder. I have been in several school musicals, run cross-country, taught music at my church, and scooped ice cream at Stowe Ice Cream Company, which is the single greatest forearm workout of all time.

Parsons: I am the deputy tree warden of my town, Weybridge, and I also teach flute and trombone privately, play in my schools jazz band and concert band, volunteer at my local animal shelter, garden, and show and judge dairy cows.

What do you plan to study in college?

Reed: I plan to major in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale University and hope to work in the field of cancer research someday!

Parsons: Music Education