This August, I will begin a three-year Music Alive Residency with the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association, made possible by a grant from Meet The Composer and the League of American Orchestras. I am really looking forward to working with everyone and exploring some of my old haunts in Burlington. The Vermont Youth Orchestra Association consists of one of the most accomplished youth orchestras in the North America, along with a few other excellent orchestras, chamber groups, choirs and an annual music festival in Burlington called the Reveille! Music Festival. They even just completed a tour of Quebec and France with their out-going Music Director Troy Peters. After a highly successful fourteen years with VYOA, Troy accepted a new position as Music Director of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio. Although he is much-loved by everyone in VT, and brought the association to new and higher levels, this will be an exciting year as VYOA embarks on a search for a new director. I lived in Vermont long enough to know that although great people sometimes leave, they often come back, and fresh, new faces will also arrive.
Back in the mid-90s, Victoria and I lived in Burlington on the corner of Church and Main, right next to Nectar's, the bar and restaurant where thousands of bands have played and Phish played some of its first gigs. We moved there right after we left undergraduate school at Eastman and the University of Rochester. I can still remember the smell of gravy fries wafting over from Nectar's, roasting coffee beans at Muddy Waters, and the freshly made pizza and bagels from across the street and down the block.
While we lived in Burlington, Victoria had a violin studio of ca. 20 students, and we gigged in just about every classical group in the state, including the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, UVM Symphony Orchestra and with the Lyric Theater Company. We even played West Side Story at the Flynn in 1995, which is an amazing coincidence, since Victoria is now playing in West Side Story on Broadway. I played in Vermont Composers Consortium concerts and worked with interesting musicians like Michael Arnowitt and Gordon Stone. These are all great memories.
Before gigs and commissions started trickling in, I worked at Kinko's in Burlington, which I think still has the distinction of being the only Kinko's in Vermont. For a young musician trying to meet people, it was a great place to work: it seems like just about everyone in town made copies there. I would strike up conversations and try to get to know everyone in the music scene. Burlington is a major city, but cozy enough that you will probably eventually run into every classical musician in town—and even in the state—if you stick around for a while.
Anyway, I am very excited, both to work with the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association and interim conductor Andrew Massey, and to be in Vermont in August. As time goes on, I may either blog about my experiences with the orchestra here, contribute to the VYOA Blog or even create a new one, but either way, I hope you will continue to read about my experiences with this wonderful organization.