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.