Posts Tagged ‘State House’

2011: the year of the vermont composer

February 17, 2011

We gathered in the second floor office of the State House this afternoon to celebrate the Governor’s signing of the proclamation declaring 2011 the “Year of the Vermont Composer”.

I don’t write music myself, but the work I do in radio depends on the continued creativity and support of the talented folks who were in the room with me today. I would even extend that thought and say that their contributions inform the very quality of Vermont’s artistic culture as a whole.

“I didn’t know there were this many composers in Vermont!” – Governor Shumlin noted, surveying the dozen or so composers and media reps in his office as he opened the day’s ceremony. Brilliant sunlight beamed in between the heavy red floorlength drapes and streaked the red and blue patterned carpeting in the office, creating a halo effect around the desk. Expectation built as the Gov explained the many initiatives and issues his fledgling administration was undertaking. Then Northfield-area composer Dennis Báthory-Kitsz spoke on behalf of the Consortium of Vermont Composers to accept the honor:

…and Derrik Jordan read the decree with the Governor standing by.

After the ceremony I talked to Báthory-Kitsz about the meaning of the day’s events:

And, earlier today on the air, I talked with Steven Klimowski, the Artistic Director of the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, about today’s proclamation. What does it mean for local composers, and Vermont’s cultural landscape? His answer of “recognition” echoed the many similar responses I got with the same question this afternoon, which included “validation”, “affirmation”, and “appreciation”.

There are an estimated 150 or so composers living and working in Vermont today. Here’s hoping that today’s declaration goes a long way to do ALL of that for their work, and then some. Congratulations to everyone whose hard work made today possible!

2011 is still young. We have a lot to look forward to this year.

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walter cerf lifetime achievement awards

June 12, 2010

State House, Monplelier

On Thursday afternoon I headed to Montpelier in the afternoon for the annual Vermont Council on the Arts presentation of the Walter Cerf Lifetime Achievement awards. Three women were being honored this year, and over the years I’ve become friends with two of them. I couldn’t miss their big day. Jane Amrose (UVM Lane Series) and Andrea Rogers (Flynn Center) are both also retiring this year, as is the third Cerf honoree, Jean Olson (Governor’s Institutes), who I had not met until that day. During her acceptance speech, Olson remarked on the womens’ 100+ years of combined service in serving the community.

The ceremony started at 4, at the end of the Council’s annual meeting. It opened with the annual State of the Arts presentation by VAC director, Alex Aldrich. He warned that the state’s arts organizations ignore marketing and promotion at their own peril, even when declining ticket sales and donation revenue mandate reduced budgets. Aldrich also outlined the three broad initiatives the Council is focusing on now in its own effort to market, promote and grow the arts in Vermont:

  • The Breaking into Business workshops: provides tools and consultation to artists in intensive 2-day sessions to help them learn how to market their own art.
  • The Routes Initiative: starting on August 1st, makes $200 grants available to teachers and arts orgs for transportation purposes. The Council created this program in response to the increasing comments it had been receiving about how difficult and prohibitively expensive it was becoming to physically get people to the events being presented.
  • A new marketing and outreach campaign to promote Vermont’s arts and culture sectors in state, and beyond.

Then the awards presentation began, including an artist showcase of dancing (Tiffany Rhynard’s Disposable Goods: What Is/Who Is?) and a preview of Upper Valley Arts forthcoming film, Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie.

As for the award recipients themselves, Ambrose, Rogers and Olson all shared a bit of their personal history, thanks to their co-workers and partners, and, words of insight. Jane Ambrose summed it up when she talked about how she was able to fulfill her vision for adventurous programming over the years: “It’s a Vermont thing. You have to trust people and when people trust you, you can do anything.”

The house chamber at the State House held many familiar faces that afternoon, as reps from arts organizations all over the state turned out for the same reason I did. The afternoon was a luminous collage of memories, friends, inspiration, laughs and a few tears.

Things are changing with the retirement of these three influential, strong arts leaders.

I’m looking forward to finding out – and being part of – wherever we go next.

2010 governor’s award for arts excellence

February 13, 2010

Ines Bass of Sandglass Theatre

Thu. Feb. 11th – Montpelier, VT

“Art is the cement that holds the individual and the society together.”

Puppet artist Finn Campman’s words summarized the life work of this year’s Governor’s Award for Artistic Excellence recipients, Eric and Ines Zeller Bass of the Sandglass Theatre (Putney, VT).

Why puppet theatre? Because “puppets are not stuck in realism, not stuck in naturalism – they’re free to move across the whole spectrum of artistic expression”, according to former Sandglass guest director Richard Edelman.

The evening’s celebration opened with a warm address by Vermont Arts Council director Alex Aldrich, who acknowledged the Award’s 42-year history in recognizing those artists whose skills have contributed both their their respective art, and to their community. Then last year’s Award winner, Rob Mermin performed a whimsical tribute to the Sandglass Theatre (in bubbles and smoke!) by re-enacting a few scenes from their past time performing and touring together.

Further remarks by Aldrich were humorously issued with decreasing visibility from behind the frame of a large puppet theatre being being set up in front of the podium by the Crabgrass Puppet Theatre. Their Buster Keaton-worthy vignette “Up On The Roof” illustrated the futlity of a puppet’s effort to get “up on the roof” and clear off a blanket of snow with a mischievous mind of its own.

The  next performance was no less enchanting, as Larry Hunt’s silent character “Backward Boy” gracefully danced and moved in visually illusionistic ways uniquely enabled by his condition of bodily reversal.

The evening closed with a performance by the evening’s honorees. Sandglass Theatre (Eric, Ines, and an unidentified accordian player) enacted “Mud” from their newest piece, All Weather Ballads. With his red pickup half submerged in the muck and a pesky, steering-wheel eating goat unhelpfully standing by – what’s a poor guy to do? Exasperation sets in and before you know it, getting himSELF unstuck from the mud becomes the first task: funny, charming, and then some. (And who can’t relate?) What magic to see great puppet mastery at work.

Eric and Ines Bass have worked in theater as directors, playwrights, performers, and mask and puppet makers for more than 30 years.  They founded Sandglass Theater in Munich, Germany in 1982 and relocated to Putney in 1986. A decade later they opened their 60-seat theater in the heart of Putney Village.

Sandglass Theater has become an internationally respected theater company specializing in the use of the puppet and visual imagery. Their productions have toured 25 countries, performing in theaters, festivals and cultural institutions, and garnering many international prizes.

Congratulations to Sandglass Theatre for the Governor’s award, and for more than three decades of imaginative  artistry!

Here’s the upcoming calendar for Sandglass Theatre performances.

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