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2022 in (classical) music: Vermont nonetheless residence to among the finest | rhvm

The Lowe Down

Vermont has lengthy been to some one of the best in music — classical that it’s — and this yr served as a reminder, as musicians started rising from the scourge of COVID-19. After all, a very powerful story is that of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s ongoing journey because it seeks to switch its legendary and now-retired Music Director Jaime Laredo. Extra on that later.

The yr’s most memorable efficiency closed revered Marlboro Music Competition’s 71st season in August. Co-artistic Director Mitsuko Uchida is likely one of the world’s most interesting pianists, however along with her good efficiency as piano soloist and conductor in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Main, Okay. 488 with the competition orchestra, she outdid even herself. Her clear articulation and expression and deep understanding of her made the opening Allegro and shutting Allegro assai was good with pleasure, whereas the gradual motion, Adagio, was elegant with tear-inducing magnificence. I left the live performance reeling.

From the elegant to the ridiculous, Opera Firm of Middlebury’s spectacular manufacturing of Jacques Offenbach’s bawdy satire “Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus within the Underworld)” in June was extra enjoyable than any opera has a proper to be. Director Douglas Anderson was a superb collaborator with France’s biggest comedian composer, and solely the gorgeously sung arias matched the “divine comedy.” COVID practically stopped the manufacturing, ensuing within the unplanned debut of the good and sublimely humorous soprano Ann-Marie Iacoviello as Eurydice. It was a pleasure!

The yr’s most spectacular solo efficiency — elegant is perhaps a greater phrase — by a Vermonter or visiting artist was pianist Diana Fanning’s recital at Middlebury Faculty in October. A kind of only a few pianists whose performances of enormous masterpieces truly clarify the music, a musical type storytelling, the Middlebury pianist’s efficiency of Franz Schubert’s Sonata No. 20 in A Main, D. 959, showcased Fanning’s capacity to make sense of a big advanced work, lacking none of its pianistic aptitude. She introduced the identical probity and pleasure to works by Ravel, Chopin and Lili Boulanger.

We’re lucky that Fanning can be repeating her program at 4 pm Sunday, Might 21 on the Plainfield Opera Home (info at

Quite a lot of superb music is made at Grace Church in Rutland, because of Minister of Music Alastair Stout, a virtuoso organist, superb composer and superlative choir director. After making a March visitor look at Brattleboro’s Epsilon Spiers in a superb organ recital, titled “Wondrous Love,” Stout returned to Rutland to guide myriad packages. Amongst them was a superb tribute to English composer Benjamin Britten, together with his beautiful 1943 Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op. 31, performed by Stout. The viewers wasn’t merely receptive, it was enthralled. One other showcased Rutland’s three wonderful organists. (These have been among the many lots of Stout’s packages all year long, however they have been all I used to be in a position to attend.)

And Vermont Philharmonic is again after a two-year hiatus. The state’s oldest group orchestra, performed by longtime Music Director Lou Kosma, dipped its toes within the water in Might with a courageous efficiency of Brahms Second Symphony on the Barre Opera Home and Greensboro’s Highland Middle for the Arts. After two profitable summer time pop live shows, the orchestra returned to Greensboro and Barre for a superb program of American music in October. Lastly, the Philharmonic closed the yr with two performances of its “Messiah” program, performed by Lisa Jablow, in Montpelier and Barre — and this time utilizing Mozart’s lovely orchestration.

Vermont is lucky to have its personal piano trio. In contrast to most teams coming collectively for a live performance or three, the Champlain Trio — pianist Hiromi Fukuda, violinist Letitia Quante and cellist Emily Taubl — have been rehearsing and getting ready for 3 years now, just like the most interesting string quartets, and it reveals. Final yr, they introduced live shows all through the state, together with the Plainfield Opera Home, Rochester Federated Church, College of Vermont, and Northern Vermont College (Lyndonville), amongst others.

Of their ultimate program of the yr (heard at UVM), the trio proved completely at residence within the muscularity of Beethoven’s Trio in D Main, Op. 70, No. 1, “Ghost,” but persevering with with the identical refinement of the earlier Schubert. From starting to finish, they performed with barely restrained ardour unleashing the masterpiece’s energy. Particularly, the gradual motion, Largo assai e con brio, was so fantastically and intensely introspective, it was riveting.

They would be the soloists within the Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Vermont Philharmonic, performed by Kosma, Feb. 12 in Colchester and Feb. 13 in Barre. Details about this and different upcoming live shows could be discovered at on-line.

Randolph’s Central Vermont Chamber Music Competition closed its thirtieth season in August with a efficiency on the Chandler Music Corridor that illustrated why it is likely one of the finest chamber music festivals in Vermont. The main work was César Franck’s Piano Quintet, a grand work that exploits the sound of the devices. Pianist Mika Sasaki, a newcomer to the competition this yr, joined violinists Arturo Delmoni and Michael Roth, violist Katarzyna Bryla-Weiss and cellist Peter Sanders in a cohesive and wealthy efficiency. Sasaki had the pivotal function in Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15, and Delmoni, Roth on viola, and Sanders restrained their ardour, simply barely, in order that Sasaki might ship.

August additionally featured an excellent premiere on the Lake Champlain Music Competition on the Elley-Lengthy Music Middle in Colchester. Composer Nokuthula Ngwenyama joined pianist Anna Polonsky, violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson, as violist in her deeply highly effective Elegy de ella. No funeral dirge, the piano quartet proved to be a fancy and deeply touching celebration of humanity that acknowledges its tragedy and celebrates its triumph.

After all, wonderful chamber music was heard all through the state. The venerable Craftsbury Chamber Gamers introduced live shows in Burlington and Hardwick, whereas Taconic provided a month-long summer time season of superb performances on the Riley Middle for the Arts in Manchester.

Solely Mozart operas mix hilarity and sheer magnificence with extremes of each, and he by no means did it extra so than in “Cosí fan tutte.” And Opera North revealed in these qualities in its ridiculously humorous and sublimely lovely July manufacturing beneath a tent at Blow-Me-Down Farm in Cornish, New Hampshire. Performed by Louis Burlot, the motion was set in Andy Warhol’s studio within the tasteless ’60s, permitting for the comedy to be coloured by the ridiculous costumes and the staging. The corporate additionally provided a deeply touching manufacturing of Verdi’s “La Traviata.”

Barn Opera, Vermont’s intimate opera in a Brandon barn, began the yr off fantastically with a manufacturing of Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” that was completely pleasant. It was fantastically sung, imaginatively staged and ridiculously humorous. However the gods weren’t with Barn Opera for the remainder of the yr, because it was hit with COVID-19.

There was one other unbelievable trio efficiency when three of this nation’s stellar chamber musicians made their Vermont debut because the Chien-Kim-Watkins Trio on the College of Vermont in October. Pianist Gloria Chien, violinist Soovin Kim and cellist Paul Watkins carried out Beethoven trios on the UVM Recital Corridor — and the viewers exploded with its unreserved approval! (Chien and Kim are creative administrators of the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Competition.)

Choruses are at all times huge in Vermont. The Solaris Vocal Ensemble has lengthy been thought-about one among Vermont’s most interesting choirs, however its newest program, April’s “Pleasant Pairings,” performed by founder Daybreak Willis, revealed 20 disciplined voices that not solely sang with accuracy, magnificence and heat, they delivered some very particular music. Among the many group (non-auditioned) choruses, the Mad River Chorale, directed by Mary Jan Austin, celebrated its thirtieth anniversary with an effervescent December efficiency of Vivaldi’s Gloria. (I wasn’t in a position to hear the Onion River Refrain, nonetheless reeling from the tragic dying of founding director Larry Gordon.)

Lastly, the VSO has initiated a world seek for a alternative for Laredo yielding seven finalists. Final yr, Akiko Fujimoto performed the season’s opener and Peter Askim led the VSO Vacation Pops live shows.

This yr, in March, Canadian conductor Tania Miller led the VSO in one among its finest performances in current reminiscence, a superb Sibelius First Symphony. Julian Pellicano, presently principal conductor of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, performed the VSO Summer time Competition Tour in a superb program of largely American music (although it is troublesome to evaluate a conductor in a pops program). In September, Sarah Ionnides led a robust efficiency of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5. And in October, British conductor James Burton introduced within the VSO Refrain for a luscious efficiency of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ setting of American poet Walt Whitman’s “Towards the Unknown Area. ”

The place is it going? We’ll see.

Jim Lowe is music critic and humanities editor of The Barre-Montpelier Instances argus and the Rutland Herald, and could be reached at or



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