Posts Tagged ‘Vermont Public Radio’

jazz, get ready for it

June 1, 2011

This week I had the pleasure of talking on VPR’s Vermont Edition about some of the special events happening at this year’s Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.

The Festival ‘unofficially’ kicks off tomorrow night with the traditional first night reception. Then – we’re off. For the next ten days after that all of downtown will be jammed and jamming in formal and very informal ways. Street musicians and sit-down concerts, international headliners and talented locals are all part of the mix along with the usual dose of the completely unexpected. Here’s the schedule…but keep in mind, this is only part of the story. You just have to come and experience the rest of it yourself.

Over at The Radiator 105.9FM we’re also giving away tickets to lots of the Jazz Festival shows including on my own World of Music this coming Monday, from 3-5pm. Can’t wait to set some lucky folks up with seats to Poncho Sanchez and the Roy Hargrove/Roberta Gambarini shows!

Keep an eye out here for regular updates through the festival.

This is gonna be funnnnn.

 

what yo-yo said

May 25, 2011

Yo-Yo Ma and me (photo by Ty Robertson)

On the eve of his Burlington appearance in late April, Yo-Yo Ma was the guest of honor at the reception we had at the radio station. Around 60 folks came, invited by both us and the Vermont Symphony Orchestra to enjoy some personal time in his company.

When I wrote about that event I mentioned one of the things that struck me was the short conversation we had (in fairness – he did all the talking) as we walked up the long hallway on his way out of the building. He talked about the importance of public broadcasting – radio, specifically – and of its undeniable worthiness for public funding. I still think about that conversation.

The next night, Yo-Yo Ma and conductor Jaime Laredo joined my colleague Walter Parker on the Flynn Center stage for Musically Speaking, the pre-concert talk. I wanted to share some of the highlights of that interaction – there were many, here are some of the most memorable ones:

Walter Parker: “At our reception last night you mentioned you met Jaime when you were 15.”

Yo-Yo Ma: “Jaime warned me you would embarass all of us here at some point. (laughs…)

WP: “We were all 15 at one time.”

Y-YM: “I was 15 for many years.”

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Y-YM: (on his relationship with Jaime Laredo) “You ever have a dream where you’re taking a test and you haven’t been to any of the classes? That’s what Jaime inspires in me.”

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Later in the conversation, Yo-Yo talked about having traveled all over the world with Jaime in their long relationship. He mentioned the one place they hadn’t been together yet was Jaime’s home town of Cochambamba, Bolivia. Jaime’s response: “Cochambamba, Bolivia might be the only place in the world we could walk down the street and people would say, ‘who’s that guy’ “(pointing at Yo-Yo).

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Walter then mentioned Yo-Yo’s website solicitation for musical support of Japan, in the wake of the devastating March 11th earthquake and resulting tsunami – what does musical support mean?

Y-YM: “Music is something very porous. It travels lightly. You can hear it inside you. As an artist you always want to think of how you can offer a cultural response.”

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Given Yo-Yo Ma’s well-known omnivorous approach to musical styles, Walter asked about the lessons learned from playing non-classical music.

Y-YM: “It was fortuitous as a classical musician that I played so many wrong notes…” (big audience laugh – of course.)

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At the end of the more formal conversation, the floor was opened to audience question. The first was the best – because of the answer it received.

Audience member: “What prompted you to start playing the cello?” (at age four) -

Y-YM: “I wanted something BIG.”

vt-made music

January 12, 2011

Last week I learned that Vermont musician Dennis Murphy had passed away in late November. (Here’s the obit from the Times-Argus.) He was born in Plainfield, NJ and he passed away in his longtime home of Plainfield, VT. I never met him but you don’t have to be involved in music here for very long to learn about the his contributions to the local cultural community. Last summer I went to the Blinking Light Gallery’s opening of an exhibition dedicated to his Murphy’s art work, an event that led to my later conversations with several of his former students and close acquaintances.  Through them I got insights into Murphy’s teaching at Goddard College, and about his involvement with groups like the Fyre and Lightning Consort and the Plainfield Village Gamelan Ensemble. He is remembered as a creatively curious and fearless innovator, and a gentle mentor to many.

In other local news, the Vermont Youth Orchestra board of directors met again last night and approved the hiring of a new conductor to replace Ronald Braunstein, who was named the group’s new permanent director six months ago. What happened? Anyone’s guess. Throughout the strange interlude of the last two months since the decision was apparently first made (though not publicly announced), the VYO Board has claimed muteness on the grounds of its legal inability to discuss personnel matters. Fair enough – but no public statement? At all? No cursory blog post on the VYO website, no carefully crafted facebook message, no polite (if uninformative) press release…nothing? The details of the situation are less the issue than the atypically stone-faced way the situation has been handled publically by the Board. How odd. Keep an eye out here for news on the new director, who may be named as early as later this week.

Finally tonight I wanted to leave with a mention of Margaret Whiting, whose sweet voice made “Moonlight in Vermont” a huge hit in 1943. For never having actually been to Vermont she had a good imagination and breathed believable life into the song’s sycamores, meadow larks, and…moonlight-washed hillsides. Whiting passed away on Monday at age 86. There was a nice remembrance of her this evening on Vermont Public Radio.

 

 

 

in the studio

May 24, 2009

2009-May24-Champlain400 085[small]

Reel des nouveaux mariés (the 'newlyweds reel')

Staffers know it, so do many listeners. Local musicians definitely know it. The performance space in the heart of Vermont Public Radio’s Colchester offices is one of the acoustically finest recording studios in the state.

I spent today in there, interviewing and hosting several musicians for a showcase we’re producing. It’s part of the station-wide project celebrating this year’s Lake Champlain Quadricentennial anniversary. Not sure when today’s session will air. Possibly in early July. Keep an eye here, I’ll let you know.

The day started off on the right foot (and the left, and the left-right-left!) with Lisa Ornstein and André Marchand, the French-Canadian fiddler and guitarist/singer duo. They’re in town for a concert this evening at UVM but took a little time to stop by and share some of their wide repertoire of chansons, dances, reels and other traditional tunes. They’re great. Lisa has a longstanding connection to this area, as a protégée of the legendary fiddler Louis Beaudoin. Among André’s credits is several years with Quebec’s Juno-winning La Bouttine Souriante. We all got a laugh from Lisa describing her move from Canada back to the family home, after graduating: “It was in Maine. Northern Maine. So far North in fact that when I moved back there I had to go NORTH from Québec City to get there!”

Marty, Robert and me in the studio (ace audio engineer Chris Albertine in the background)

Marty, Robert and me in the studio (ace audio engineer Chris Albertine in the background)

Next up was one of my favorite local acts, the Burlington-based duo of Robert Resnik and Marty Morrissey. With more than 30 instruments and 50 years of experience between them (25 of those years playing together), these two really know how to share some learning, have a great time, and get everyone else involved in the fun too. And why not? There’s a lot to keep a songwriter entertained here: a rich maritime and military history, wildly unpredictable weather, breathtaking natural beauty (every season!), Champ (Lake Champlain’s elusive answer to the Loch Ness monster), farming culture, and…yep, even rock snot. And other invasive species.

After a short break we were joined by singer/songwriter Alan Greenleaf. A farmer himself, fittingly, he had spent the earlier part of the day playing at the opening weekend of a local farmer’s market. He offered a final set of original songs ranging from the whimsical to the poignant, covering everything from the flood of 1927 to the austere landscape of our northern winters, and that hallowed Vermont summertime tradition, the Strolling of the Heifers. Really. Greenleaf likes to describe this as the rare parade that’s not about wars.

This was just one of those days where I feel lucky. Blessed to live where I do, fortunate to be involved in special gatherings like this, and grateful to have the ears and eyes to be able to take it all in.

Thanks to everyone who was part of today’s recording session.

The final words for the day come from Mr. Greenleaf: “I never get tired of looking out the window. This is a beautiful place we live in, Vermont. It’s worth a lot of songs.”

For further exploration:

Robert Resnik & Marty Morrissey’s Old and New Songs of Lake Champlain

Alan Greenleaf: Singer/Songwriter/Farmer

(Lisa Ornstein’s website is currently in development. I’ll add the link here when it’s ready.)




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