The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is excited to announce #MasterClef, a composition and performance competition for middle- and high-school students, launching Fall 2021. The competition is in partnership with the multi-award-winning Suad Bushnaq, a Jordanian/Canadian composer, who will join the VSO in Burlington in October 2021 for the world premiere of her new cello concerto for orchestra.
Students of all musical genres — from classical, pop and rock to indie, house and beyond — and any musical instrument are invited to arrange and perform new songs based on the melody of Bushnaq’s concerto.
The competition will formally open at the start of the school year in September, when we’ll share guidelines and the concerto melody. Selected finalists will join Bushnaq in Burlington on October 29 and 30 to workshop and record their music and attend the VSO concert featuring Bushnaq’s concerto at The Flynn.
Learn more about Suad Bushnaq.
Click below to join the Vermont Symphony Orchestra education team for Musical Chairs, an online music education program for K-6 graders!
Episode 5 – Visiting Instruments
Episode 4 – Percussion
Episode 3 – Woodwinds
Episode 2 – Brass
Episode 1 – Strings
Your VSO is here to help during this hybrid education year with FREE programs for teachers, parents, and students. Click here for our at-home music education resources.
Below is a representation of our typical education offerings.
Education and community collaboration have always been an important part of the VSO’s statewide mission. In the 2018/2019 season, SymphonyKids reached 18,700 students through 216 presentations, serving 153 schools in 120 towns.
The SymphonyKids vision statement: “To explore the delights of classical music with Vermont school children, and to inspire them with a lifelong enthusiasm for music through a variety of high-quality, educational, and FUN programs.”
For more information or to book a program, email Patricia Jancova or call (802) 864-5741 ext. 113.
Watch to catch a glimpse of our programs!
With the support of the Vermont Arts Council, the VSO joined forces with a group of aspiring composers learning to write new, original works at Monument Elementary in Bennington. These young musicians are learning staff notation and basic composition techniques from Matt LaRocca with Music-COMP (Music Composition Mentoring Program) while being introduced to the brass instrument family by the VSO’s trumpet, trombone and tuba trio Fanfare!. Over November and December 2020, the students and musicians will meet over Zoom, working towards an online musical premiere on December 18.
“The ongoing support, masterclasses, music composition, and opportunities our learners have engaged in [with the VSO] are priceless. These are once in a lifetime experiences for learners, and I am proud to support the importance of arts in education at our school.” Principal Donna L. Cauley, Monument Elementary School
The VSO’s SymphonyKids Music Education programs offer a wide array of options for in-school visits and field trips.
Our core music education program, the Lois H. McClure Musicians-in-the-Schools, includes seven different ensembles that are available for in-school presentations. Concerts include demonstration of instruments, a wide sampling of repertoire, audience participation, and a certain amount of zany humor. These groups normally present three 45-minute shows a day, which can be in three different schools if they are close enough geographically. All presentations are most appropriate for elementary age students. The cost is $315 per performance, or $945 for a full day. Subsidy money is often available, especially if schools help set up bookings.
The performing groups are:
Fiddlesticks! (String Trio)
Fiddlesticks’ performances for schoolchildren are designed to introduce students to the most important members of the symphony orchestra and to make some of the key concepts in classical music-making come alive. Longtime members of the VSO, the performers are funny, friendly, interactive — and superior musicians.
Fanfare (Brass Trio)
Fanfare’s show includes a variety of musical styles plus demonstrations of how the instruments produce their sounds and how each one has changed since its beginnings. Watch a short video below about Fanfare at the Tunbridge Fair on September 16, 2010.
Triple Treble (Woodwind Trio)
VSO’s newly-formed trio, “Triple Treble,” features flautist Anne Janson, oboist Katie Oprea, and clarinetist Betsy LeBlanc. All three musicians are seasoned performers and dedicated music educators. Their engaging and informative show spans a variety of genres and time periods—from Bach to Gershwin to Irish tunes to Ben E. King! Fun costumes make each selection unique and memorable and students even get to participate in the music-making as a rhythm section!
Harp & Soul (Flute and Harp Duo)
In this fresh and engaging program, the musicians explain how the harp and flute work and sound, including some of their “special effects.” Topics addressed include music as a descriptive tool, concert nerves, and harmony vs. melody, The musicians perform some familiar music and talk about how their instruments are used in orchestral music.
Symphony Reel (String Trio)
This trio takes students on a fun and unique journey through a range of musical styles, including classical and folk. Symphony Reel brings alive musical traditions from England to New England and from bluegrass to Bartok. Students provide the backdrop for a waltz and ultimately an Irish jig, and assist in creating their own folk tune.
Ah! Cappella (Vocal Quartet)
These musicians perform a wide selection of music, from Disney’s “Frozen” to “These Green Mountains,” the Vermont State song. A question-and-answer period allows students to explore not only the group’s multicultural musical choices, but the lives of professional Vermont musicians as well. Ah! Cappella’s show is an enlightening and entertaining “romp” through the multitudinous reasons that people of every culture lift up their voices in song
Raising Cane (Woodwind Trio)
The woodwind trio Raising Cane is always a big hit in schools. The musicians are all excellent performers with years of experience turning kids on to classical music. Their show focuses on the unique sounds of the three reed instruments, making the analogy that musical timbres are the composer’s palette of colors. Students are engaged in participatory exercises designed to familiarize them with these ambassadors from the woodwind family and sharpen their listening skills.
Musical Petting Zoo
In addition to our traveling ensembles, we have a program called the Musical Petting Zoo. The “Zookeeper,” Toby Aronson, brings a variety of orchestral instruments into the schools for a hands-on introduction to the VSO. After an explanation and demonstration of each instrument, the children get a chance to play on their own, under the supervision of “handlers.”
Don’t miss out on this fun-filled introduction to the world of classical music!
Check out this article on the Musical Petting Zoo reported by the Burlington Free Press on March 31, 2010.
Green Room Program
Another branch of VSO SymphonyKids is known as the Green Room Program. A group of middle and/or high school students is given free tickets to a VSO concert. The students receive materials about the performance in advance. Before the concert, the students and chaperones have a meal with musician “mentors,” who give them an inside perspective on the pieces and performers. They then get a backstage tour of the green room area.
The Green Room Program started in 2003 with Burlington-area schools, but it has been such a success that we are offering it to other schools statewide as funding becomes available. Participants are asked to write a short “review” of their experience afterwards. Here are a few excerpts from recent concerts:
“It was interesting to get to talk to some of the symphony members who were very humorous.”
“I felt honored to go behind the scene at the Flynn because not many people get to see this.”
“It was cool to see all the instruments up close and to see what goes on before concerts.”
“The concert was really amazing I couldn’t believe there were that many violinists.”
Ear Buds is designed to enhance very young children’s exposure to music and music instruction. The program encompasses all aspects of a child’s early musical development, including singing, instruments, and movement. The music teacher who presents this program is Megumi Esselstrom. She completed a FAME (Feierabend Association in Music Education) course, and decided to put her training into action under the aegis of the VSO. Charlotte Children’s School writes: “Earbuds exposes our community’s youngest members to a variety of musical mediums, creating space for them to establish their initial relationship with music and explore its power.” We have visions of expanding the program to be statewide, turning countless toddlers into “budding” classical music fans!!
SymphonyKids is made possible by the generosity of:
Neat Repeats Resale Shop
Doolittle Family Foundation