Vermont Symphony Orchestra

The VSO Blog

2017 Farmers’ Night

One of our most special performances is the one that the Vermont Symphony Orchestra gives in thanks to the State of Vermont, Farmers’ Night. This year, the Statehouse glowed in fresh snow to welcome our artists, volunteers, and guests who shed coats and boots to take their seats in the chamber of the House of Representatives.

History of Farmers’ Night

The Wednesday evening performances recruit artists from across the state to perform in the “people’s house.” The tradition began when poor roads prevented lawmakers from traveling home during the legislative session. These evenings provided entertainment in a then-sleepy state capitol. It was aptly named because most legislators and elected officials maintained working farms in the warmer months and governed from January to April.
The VSO kicked-off the 2017 Statehouse series with our David M. Wilson Memorial Farmers’ Night Concert. We dedicate this performance to David, a long-standing board member and chairman who was passionate about Vermont produced symphonic and choral music. In addition to being a 30-year public servant, he worked tirelessly to fulfill our mission of being an orchestra for all Vermonters – young and old. David was instrumental in growing the VSO in status to one of the finest in America.
Farmers’ Night was one of David’s favorite events. He understood the importance for our state symphony to be acknowledged in its own Statehouse. He believed this free performance for all citizens and their chosen lawmakers to be as meaningful as any of the 40 concerts and over 250 childrens’ programs presented by the VSO throughout the year.

Debut of Youth Composer Jacob Dennison

The Farmers’ Night performance is also when we showcase a young Vermont composer. The VSO was proud to premiere Jacob Dennison’s orginal piece, Chaotic Thoughts Behind Lovely Eyes. Jacob, a senior at Lake Region Union High School in Orleans, is a composer and intrumentalist. He learned to put his compositions to paper through Music-COMP (Music Composition Online Mentoring Program), a non-proft organization that supports student composers in schools and other organizations such as the Vermont Youth Orchestra and Vermont Music Teachers Association. After graduation, Jacob plans to pursue a degree in audio engineering — we suspect we will hear many more compositions from this talented young man.

VSO’s State Support

The VSO is the oldest state-assisted orchestra in the country. We receive a single appropriateion from the General Fund budget to support our musical and educational programs, with primary emphasis on SymphonyKids {link to page} and performances in under-resourced rural areas. This funding provides free Holiday Pops tickets to members of the Vermont National Guard and their families as well as no-cost or low cost student tickets to all of our performances.
As philanthropic support for the arts fluctates with the highs and lows of the economy, this appropriation is crucial to sustaining our core programs and allows us to reach for higher levels of artistic ability that is unparalleled locally and competitive regionally and nationally. We are forever grateful to live and work in a state where lawmakers and citizens value our vision and are dedicated to supporting a dynamic arts community.

Thank you

We are grateful for our hosts for Farmers’ Night, Senator Alison Clarkson of Woodstock and Representative John Bartholomew of Hartland. We also send our appreciation to the Central Vermont Regional Board {link to regional board page} for helping us organize this event and volunteer as ushers and welcoming hosts. And finally, a final round of applause and gratitude to the VSO artists who volunteered their time and talent to our magical night in the people’s house.