Vermont Symphony Orchestra

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VSO Launches 2021/2022 Season with New Music Director Candidates & World Premiere of Concerto Honoring a Vermonter

Vermont Symphony Orchestra returns to live performances at the Flynn and across the state, starting October 30, 2021. 


  • VSO returns to live, indoor, and in-person performances on October 30, 2021, at the Flynn, followed by a statewide string quartet tour in November and holiday concerts in December.  
  • The nationwide search for VSO’s new Music Director kicks off on October 30 with conductor Akiko Fujimoto followed by Peter Askim leading the orchestra for the December Holiday Pops concerts.   
  • Jordanian-Canadian composer Suad Bushnaq’s new cello concerto, Sampson’s Walk on Air, makes its world premiere at the October 30 concert and was commissioned in honor of longtime VSO supporter Frank Sampson.  

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra returns for its 2021/2022 season, bringing exciting classical music to beloved venues new and old across the state. The VSO will open the season with its Classical Series at the Flynn on October 30, followed by a statewide tour with its Jukebox Quartet featuring acclaimed singer-songwriter Moira Smiley. The VSO will close out 2021 with a series of holiday concerts in December and a New Year’s performance at the Flynn.  

October: A Return to the Flynn 

The VSO presents the first concert in its 2021/2022 Classical Series on October 30, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. at the Flynn in Burlington, Vermont.  

“We’re part of re-opening the doors at the Flynn and can’t wait to bring the power of Vermont’s orchestra back to Burlington. Whether it’s those quiet musical moments of contemplation or the thundering sound of the strings, brass, winds, and percussion playing together, there’s nothing like symphony. The VSO is honored to be back,” says Elise Brunelle, Executive Director. 

VSO Music Director candidate finalist Akiko Fujimoto will conduct the orchestra in a program that includes the world premiere of Suad Bushnaq’s cello concerto, Sampson’s Walk on Air, featuring soloist principal cellist John Dunlop. The concert includes New York composer Jessie Montgomery’s Strum, described by The Washington Post as “turbulent, wildly colorful, and exploding with life”; Maurice Ravel’s whimsical eulogy to friends lost in WWI, Le Tombeau de Couperin; and an homage to Viennese traditions with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1. 

Surrounding this centerpiece concert will be a series of orbiting events that constitute a “PlayFest,” including, but not limited to:  

  • September 27 – October 8 Fletcher Free Library Musical Activities for Families
  • October 1-30 Burlington Bike Path Musical Walking Tour 
  • October 9 Adventure Dinner event crafted by Sas Stewart and featuring the VSO  
  • October 26 Panel Discussion with the UVM Lane Series 
  • October 27 UVM Masterclass on Film Composition presented by Suad Bushnaq (private event) 
  • October 29 Masterclef Middle & High School Music Competition Finale  

The October 30 concert is sponsored by TD Bank & TD Bank Foundation, Vermont Humanities, AARP, Patricia Sampson, and Vermont Public Radio. 

November: Jukebox Quartet Goes on Tour 

In November, the VSO Jukebox Quartet (violinists Brooke Quiggins and Laura Markowitz, violist Stefanie Taylor, and cellist John Dunlop) will embark on a statewide tour, traveling to venues including ArtsRiot in Burlington, Zenbarn in Waterbury, Alexander Twilight Theater at NVU Lyndon, Walker Farm at Weston Playhouse, Weston and Artistree in South Pomfret. The quartet is joined by Vermont songstress and prolific folk composer Moira Smiley for this series of concerts of classical, folk, and rock repertoire, curated by Matt LaRocca, VSO’s Artistic Advisor and Project Conductor. 

December: Holiday Pops, Brass, & More 

VSO’s second Music Director candidate finalist, Peter Askim, will conduct the orchestra for its Holiday Pops series, joined by indie-pop/opera soprano Melissa Wimbish. The program features favorites like Rocket Sleigh, White Christmas, and Sleigh Ride, as well as music from the Nutcracker and Polar Express suites, contemplative and festive carols, and a dash of warm-weather cheer from Brazil. Performances will take place on December 10 at the Barre Opera House, December 11 at the Flynn in Burlington, and December 12 at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland.  

From December 16-19, 2021, the VSO Brass Quintet will join forces with Counterpoint, under the direction of Nathaniel G. Lew, to ring in the holidays. The program includes Elizabeth Poston’s “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree,” carols by American composers Alice Parker, Amy Beach, and William Levi Dawson, and the Nigerian Christmas song “Betelehemu.” Vermont is represented by a Robert De Cormier favorite and traditional European carols from the Trapp Family Songbook. Brass selections range from soulful to sparkling, including the world premiere of a composition by a young composer from Vermont’s MUSIC-COMP program. 

On December 31, the VSO will close out 2021 with Burlington Does Broadway, co-presented with Lyric Theatre Company and the Flynn, with the VSO conducted by Benjamin Klemme.  

Concert sponsors include The Windham Foundation and the VSO JEDI Fund. 

A Note on COVID-19 Protocols for the VSO 

Effective September 1, all VSO contracted musicians, staff, guest artists, and venue technical crew and staff where the VSO performs will be working under a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Audiences can be assured that all individuals hired by the VSO, regardless of their role in the company, will have received one of the three COVID-19 vaccines recommended by the CDC. This mandate was initiated and put into place in equal part by VSO management, in consultation with the Executive Committee of the VSO Board of Directors, and the Boston Musicians Union representing VSO’s contracted musicians. 

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