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New building of note

Brattleboro Music Center celebrates grand opening of its new school, performance space

For information about how to help, contact BMC Campaign Coordinator Meg Lyons at 802-257-4523 or mlyons@bmcvt.org.

BRATTLEBORO—It was a slightly unconventional grand opening for a slightly unconventional institution, but when you have fulfilled a dream that was 40 years in the making, you can celebrate any way you want.

And that’s how Johann Sebastian Bach rode into the Brattleboro Music Center’s new concert hall on the back of a Harley.

After four decades of trying to come up with a replacement for their “temporary” home on Walnut Street, BMC celebrated the move into a spacious and beautiful new home off Guilford Street near Living Memorial Park.

“It’s so thrilling,” said BMC co-founder Judith Serkin. “Having that concert hall is enormous for us.”

All those years of having to make do, as the BMC tried to conduct classes in a less than acoustically perfect former convent, have given way to 15,000 square feet of space.

There’s a 270-seat concert hall — the town’s first purpose-built music space since the Brattleboro Opera House was built on Main Street in the late 19th century.

There’s a smaller, 70-seat recital hall that can also be used as rehearsal space for choral groups as well as orchestras.

And there are a bunch of soundproofed studios for the more than 400 students who take classes at BMC; studios where the sound won’t bleed over into neighboring spaces.

So seeing Bach, portrayed by BMC board member Jim Maxwell, riding in on the back of former Brattleboro Fire Chief David Emery Sr.’s Harley was in keeping with the exuberance of the day.

“We’re not your typical music center. We think of ourselves as ‘playful, yet refined,’” said BMC Managing Director Mary Greene. “We take good music seriously, and the preparation of young musicians very seriously, but we enjoy ourselves as we do it.”

Even as the hoopla of a ribbon-cutting was going on at one end of the building, music classes were happening in the new studios.

“There’s already an energy to this place,” Greene said. “There’s so many people in this community that waited a long time to have a music hall and a music education center. For us to be the ones who have celebrated it and to help make it happen is a real honor.”

While BMC still plans to have some of its bigger shows in downtown venues, such as the Latchis Theatre, Greene said more of the center’s programming, including its chamber music series, will be in its new performance space.

“Brattleboro is a great arts town, but it’s never had a facility like this until now,” she said.

Ground was broken last fall on the project at the site of the former Francis Hicks School, built in the 1950s. The last tenant in the space, the Winston Prouty Center, sold the building to BMC in July 2016 for $525,000. Renovating the school building took about seven months, Greene said.

While BMC has a shiny new home, there is still one final phase of the “Make a Place for Music”fundraising campaign to be completed.

The fundraising committee that raised nearly $5 million for this project is now working on raising $430,000 so BMC can fully outfit its new home with an array of furnishings and equipment, refurbish pianos and other instruments, and create endowments.

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Tamara Stenn
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Tamara Stenn (Brattleboro, Vermont, US) says...

Thanks for writing this Elayne. I was thinking the same thing myself. The silence we received from the hospital is quite deafening. Unfortunately we\'ve had to continue working with the hospital as other (minor) heath issues come up.

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Judith Skillman
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Judith Skillman (Newcastle, US) says...

Excellent and informative writing about the media and about the state of our nation. We must support the press speak truth to power, now more than ever before.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

We are also obliged to criticize the press when they merely echo the lies of the powerful. In this case, much of the press has taken a side, not just against the policies of the President, but against the election itself on behalf of the parties of war and Wall St. Just as the US has in the past agitated in other countries for coups against democratic outcomes they don’t like, much of the press, including this editorial, is now agitating for a coup here at home.

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Peter Ford
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Peter Ford (Dallas) says...

Nailed it - Thank you.

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TB Smith
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TB Smith (Ba, Oklahoma, US) says...

The divisiveness brought on by this shamefully poor excuse for a president has been once again, borne out by this article, and the responses to it .. his most devoted followers are the most gullible and easily swayed sheeple since the \"Kool-Aid party in Jonestown\" ... those who stand up the most fervently to this dictator \"wanabe\", will , inthe end, see him and the fellow purveyors of his garbage rhetoric like FOX News, Alex Jones, Breitbart, etc., crumble and be dumped like stale crackers (pardon the pun) .. we must impeach this tyrant before too much damage is done, either from within or outside our borders.

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

So it’s OK that access to outlets that simply recognize Trump as President is indeed being shut down? But isn’t that exactly what this editorial is against? Should outlets that cheered on Obama’s wars and love of Wall St have likewise been shut down? Only John Birch Society–inspired screeds against Trump indicate the “legitimate” press?

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Ruby Bode
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Ruby Bode (Westminster, Vermont, US) says...

TB Smith’s comment in apparent support of the us-vs-them tone of this editorial illustrates why so many people distrust so much of the press (although, again, it appears to be only pro-Trump and anti-imperialist outlets that are actually being shut down): They are promulgating hysterical claims about fascism, Russians, and “crackers” not in the interest of the people, but wholly on behalf of the neoliberal/neoconservative program of Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama to deny Trump the Presidency and even remove him from office – not democratically, but by coup if necessary. That makes the press rather anti-democratic and, indeed, against the people.

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Amelia Stone
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Amelia Stone (E Dummerston, Vermont, US) says...

Kudos to the Boston Globe for encouraging newspapers across the country to remind us all of the value of a free press, and to the Commons for hearing that call. The NYTimes article, A Free Press Needs You, concludes with the following: \"If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.\" Today I plan to subscribe.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #429 (Wednesday, October 11, 2017). This story appeared on page A1.

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