VSO introduces new concepts for an unusual season

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO) will start its 2020-21 season with two new projects, “designed to meet you where you're at, serve the present moment, and provide some brightness for the soul,” according to a news release.

Hosted by VSO New Music Advisor David Ludwig, “Music for Days Like This” interweaves the traditional with the unexpected, drawing a parallel to present-day experiences through chamber ensemble performances.

This streamable series, the brainchild of VSO Creative Projects Chair Matt LaRocca, is recorded at distinct locations throughout the Champlain Valley, with some venues welcoming the VSO - in its 86th year, the nation's oldest state-assisted symphony orchestra - for the first time.

According to the VSO, the project “promotes the voices of those historically left out of the orchestral narrative, featuring new commissioned music from female composers, Black composers, and composers under the age of 20, intertwined with works from more traditionally performed composers.”

This fall will see the return of a popular, established VSO offering, as Jukebox is back for its fifth season. The string quartet's varied programs of short-format pieces will be streamed live.

Hosted by LaRocca, the Oct. 17 offering, exploring current events from politics to pandemics, features a stacked show with works by Dame Ethel Smyth, Ludwig van Beethoven, J.S. Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich, Carlos Simon, the Talking Heads, and Jordyn Davis.

A second Jukebox concert will stream live in January, featuring an eclectic mix of styles and composers.

Tickets for both concert series have pay-what-you-can sliding scale options, starting at $5.

These projects are part of what the VSO called “a broader period of invention, change, and upward momentum.”

In addition to staying active and performing throughout the pandemic, the VSO welcomed a “dynamic new executive director,” Elise Brunelle, and is raising funds to become eligible for a grant to collaborate with Vermont's immigrant communities.

As part of its ongoing commitment to promoting music education, the VSO will also be offering online after-school programs in lieu of the organization's usual school visits.

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