Meet Sebastiaan West

SEBASTIAAN WEST is a senior at Mount Mansfield Union High School, who began studying piano at age 5 in the Netherlands. Currently a student of Paul Orgel, Mr. West has performed with Burlington Chamber Orchestra, Vermont All State Music Festival, Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival and is a member of the Vermont Youth Orchestra. Alongside his classical accomplishments, Sebastiaan leads a youth jazz combo, plays Irish button accordion with Young Tradition Vermont, and was the band leader for Fairfax Community Theater’s production of ‘Beehive: The 60s Musical.’

Sebastiaan is one of three concerto competition winners this season. Mr. West will perform the festive first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 this Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 3pm in the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Learn more.

Welcome, Cleo Flemming!

CLEO FLEMMING received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Psychology from the University of Vermont where she studied with cellist Suzanne Polk. Throughout her undergraduate studies she was the cellist of the Redstone String Quartet and a member of the UVM Symphony Orchestra, where she performed in the annual UVM Concerto Competition in 2017. Cleo is a long standing participant of Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music and has attended Allegro Vivo, an international chamber music festival in Austria. As a freelance cellist, Cleo has worked for multiple musical theatre productions for FlynnSpace, Stowe Theatre Guild and UVM including FlynnSpace’s off-Broadway production of Fun Home, and the Flynn Summer Youth Theatre Program. She has worked closely with composer and director Randal Pierce on his original work for children’s theatre and has the privilege collaborating with many talented Burlington songwriters, including Honey and Soul, Francesca Blanchard, and Myra Flynn.

As a teacher, Cleo has instructed the after school cello program at Edmund’s School and held a private studio through the Burlington Music Dojo. Cleo organizes her lessons to emphasize the student’s personal musical growth through the style to which they feel most connected, all while deepening an understanding of music theory and practical technique. When she’s not teaching, you can find her at home with her wacky cat, Banana, or out and about making coffee for the vibrant folks of Burlington, Vermont!


We’re thrilled Ms. Flemming has joined our lesson program faculty and is accepting new students.

Welcome, Patricia Jancova!

PATRICIA JANCOVA received a Master of Music degree in violin performance from Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music where she studied with renowned violinist/violist and pedagogue, Laura Bossert. During her graduate studies, she played both violin and viola at Setnor as well as for chamber music festivals LyricaFest and Festival Baltimore. While completing her undergraduate degree at the Frost School of Music, Miss Jancova studied abroad at the prestigious Sydney Conservatorium, where she was a student of Alice Waten. Miss Jancova has played in numerous ensembles including the Binghamton Philharmonic, Miami Lyric Opera, the New England Symphonic Ensemble, Philadelphia Sinfonia, the Sydney Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, the Lyrica-Boston Chamber Orchestra, and the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra. Versed in a wide range of musical styles, she has also had the privilege of performing with artists including Mark O’Connor, Bobby McFerrin, George Benson, Chick Corea, Gloria Estefan, and Dawn Upshaw.

As an educator, Miss Jancova has worked with students from the onset of their musical training to the pre-professional level at the Florida Youth Orchestra, the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, the Syracuse Youth Orchestra, and as a Teaching Assistant for the music outreach program at the University of Miami. Her teaching style is a conglomerate influenced by several different pedagogues and schools including the O’Connor and Suzuki methods. Miss Jancova hopes to help VYOA musicians find their unique musical voice, to develop proper technique on their instruments, to hone personal skills such as responsibility and self-motivation, and to foster a general love of music and music-making in their lives.


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.