Vermont Symphony Orchestra

The VSO Blog

VSO Reaches Out to Senior Musicians

In November, VSO musicians performed a “dial in” phone concert to commemorate Veterans Day for residents of the VA Medical Center in White River Junction. Lynne Davis, Communications Specialist at the VAMC said “I am so glad [the VSO] reached out and appreciate this offer to support our Veterans.” Naturally, we were thrilled at the response and wanted to see if we could connect with more of Vermont’s senior music lovers.

Orchestra Manager Eleanor Long has been picking up the phone to reach out to older persons across Vermont through the organization AgeWell and the VA Medical Center. Through this outreach, she met Dave Tilton, who played trumpet and French Horn in high school but is now taking piano lessons. Before the pandemic, his piano teacher was helping him learn Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.”

Eleanor also spoke with retired music teacher Mary Ann Samuels, who plays with a group called Full Circle – a group of five women who have played together for 20 years now. Mary Ann told us, “I feel like music has been one of the things that has sustained me through this past year, I mean in all of my life really, but you know having music to play feels like such a gift [during this pandemic].”

It was a treat to talk to Phyllis Tiffany who lives in Vermont now, but when she lived in Quebec she played in a military band called the Governor General’s Horse Guards. She’s played in a few community bands in Vermont, but all of them are on hiatus now. During the pandemic, Phyllis has been trying to get her music fix by streaming a jazz program from Toronto and turning up as loud as possible.

All told, we were thrilled to interview eight Vets and seniors about their lives with music. Recordings of these interviews will be used to create new online concerts, hosted by violinist Jane Kittredge, that will be shared privately with the AgeWell and VA Medical Center Communities in February. It has been such a treat to be able to speak with musical Vermonters during this pandemic, to use music as our connection, and we appreciate the amazing staff at AgeWell and the VA Medical Center for their involvement.