Walking into the warm lights of ArtsRiot on Saturday evening, we knew immediately that our vision for a uniquely different VSO performance had become a reality. Then came news that the space was at capacity shortly after the doors opened, with a line stretching out the door and around the block. We sadly had to turn away audience members! A VSO string quartet performed to a standing-room-only crowd of 170 and it was clear: Jukebox was a success!
At this time a year ago, our then new Executive Director, Ben Cadwallader, was reacquainting himself with Vermont communities. He made a stop at ArtsRiot to meet with co-owner PJ McHenry where he made an instant connection with their team. Together they knew that the warehouse performance space would be the perfect venue for this collaborative project. “We wanted to create an intimate, personal musical experience for people who may not normally seek out classical music, and for our traditional audiences,” Ben explained. “By collaborating with ArtsRiot and offering an innovative pricing structure, we’re making it easy to bring more people together through music.”
The new series developed over the months and Vermont composer Matt LaRocca was brought on board as Curator. Jukebox performances are scheduled in the weeks before a Masterworks concert and the pieces performed at JukeBox are thoughtfully selected to complement the Masterworks program. As Matt explained at the first Jukebox, “Even if you don’t know the name of [the piece], you have heard it before.” The first performance included an original version of Samuel Barber’s famous “Adagio for Strings,” a Beethoven masterpiece, and the rock and roll inspired Aheym by Bryce Dessner, the lead guitarist from the band The National. VSO Concertmaster Katherine Winterstein also delighted the standing-room-only audience with a bluegrass solo by composer Kenji Bunch.
This new venture is part of a greater effort supported by the Northfield Savings Bank’s VSO Innovation Fund. “We believe that music is the connective tissue that brings us together,” said Ben. “We are proud that Northfield Savings Bank chose the VSO as a funding partner to give us the creative freedom to think outside the concert hall and bring the arts to more Vermonters.” With this support, the Jukebox series is also able to provide tickets at a pay-what-you-can price.
Please join us for upcoming performances listed on our events page.