Vermont Symphony Orchestra

Grafton – Virtual Summer Festival Tour

We don’t know about you, but we could really go for an evening at Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center right about now. It’s a perfect venue for celebrating the holiday and enjoying the outdoors with some music, and best of all, there’s room for the strong, spirited crowd that turns out every year. We miss all of you who have joined us in Grafton in the past, and hope you enjoy this virtual taste of our Summer Festival Tour today.



Sasha Vaut, Director of Philanthropy: In 2018, the Summer Tour collided with the hottest days of the year. Each day the temperature reached the mid 90s and usually didn’t let up in the evening. For the Grafton concert, the team used to head to Grafton early and sell tickets at the venue, but that summer we couldn’t fathom sitting under a hot tent in a field under the sun. So, after dropping off extra tickets to our friends at MKT, the team got to enjoy a gorgeous Vermont summer day at a swimming hole in Chester. I’m sure plenty of cars were curious why the VSO Jeep was parked alongside the road with a few towels draped over the doors, but it was a fun bonding moment for the staff and one of my favorite summer tour memories.

Joy Worland, horn: Driving home late from Grafton one night (I live in Montpelier), I remember getting really sleepy despite my audio book, and searching around in the car one-handed for some kind of music to play instead. I share the car with two teenagers,  so thank you Kanye West for getting me safely through that last stretch of 89 from Randolph.

Margot Van Horne, Marketing Manager: There is a goat farm near our Grafton venue, and to say that it’s legendary among our staff is an understatement. I believe I first heard about it when I was interviewing for my first position at the VSO, and Sasha excitedly told me that she and Grace loved making a side trip to watch the goats before the Grafton concert. I love animals and used to work at a goat farm, so this story only enhanced my impression of the VSO. I (obviously) accepted the job, and when the Grafton concert rolled around, the goats did not disappoint. Goats are endlessly entertaining, especially when they climb up on ledges and bounce off of walls in their special brand of goat parkour, which the Grafton goats excel at.

Eleanor Long, Orchestra Manager: One of my favorite things to do all year is to arrive in Grafton early (after stopping at the Vermont Country Store in Weston on the way from Manchester) and sit in a rocking chair on the porch at the Grafton Inn, reading my book until it’s time to head to the concert site. In 2008, Smetana’s great-great niece was in the audience! In 2016, there were performers on stilts in the audience. The last two years, we’ve had wonderful “pre-game shows” here featuring performers from the Kinhaven Music School, where our bass trombonist Gabe Langfur is on the faculty.

Here’s a message from VSO Music Director Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson, who attend our Grafton concert every year.

Many of our musicians have their own tour traditions and favorite places to visit while traveling the state. Click here for an interactive map of Second Trumpet Greg Smith’s favorite cycling routes, and here for a map of Principal Horn Shelagh Abate’s go-to tour stops.


Sponsors, Vendors, and Community Partners

Tour Sponsors and Partners

We are so grateful for our tour sponsors and partners who help make our tour possible year after year.

Thank you also to the individuals who help to make our concerts possible.


Concert Sponsors and Partners


Sponsor Spotlight: Windham Foundation

Not only does the Windham Foundation support the Summer Festival Tour through grant funding, they also provide volunteers and use of the venue for our concert. We are grateful for the long partnership with the Windham Foundation and are looking forward to continuing this for years to come.

Bob Donald, CEO: In my ten years in Grafton, the annual VSO concert on July 3 has always been a highlight of the year—the setting, the crowd, the music. We are clearly living in very unusual times in 2020. But while we will all be missing the VSO concert this year, I am looking forward to once again sitting at Grafton Trails next July 3 for this wonderful tradition to continue.  

We’re so lucky to have local businesses like MKT in Grafton as supporters of the VSO. Not only does MKT act as a ticket outlet for us, they go above and beyond in creating delicious picnic baskets tailored to our concerts that audience members can purchase and enjoy at our shows. It’s become tradition for VSO staffers to stop in town to get their lunch (plus baked goods, sweets, and plenty of other goodies) from MKT.

Ali Hartman and June Lupiani, Co-owners: As business owners and community members in Grafton, Vermont, the VSO summer concert each July is something we look forward to. The quality and beauty of the music are exceptional. But the VSO doesn’t just perform a show, for that night, they transform our town. Twinkling fireflies and booming fireworks, blankets spread across the grass with a sea of familiar faces sitting upon them, picnic baskets and chilled wine from MKT are passed around the rapt crowd as they stare up at the white domed stage looming in the grass field. Music pours into the crowd. Everything is alive and humming, making it easy to understand why this is one of our absolute favorite nights of the year. 


Music and more

We always open our Summer Festival Tour concerts with The Star Spangled Banner, so three of our musicians recorded a creative tribute on oboe and English horn. Here’s Graham Powning’s “Variations on The Star Spangled Banner.”


No fireworks show would be complete without Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. When the pandemic upended this year’s tour, VSO musicians decided to record each of their parts in their own homes, so that they could still perform together—and share a musical moment with all of our extended VSO family. Please enjoy the intro courtesy of our cello section, and the finale with the full orchestra.


As the fireworks continue, it’s our tradition to play a variety of Sousa marches. Here’s The Stars and Stripes Forever, from five VSO violas.


And, in lieu of a visit to Vermont this summer, our trombone section has donned their concert attire to take care of business at home.


Looking for more music? We’ve made a playlist with some favorite pieces from past Summer Festival Tour programs (on Spotify below and YouTube here).

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday week. Feel free to join us virtually for each stop on our tour—tomorrow we’re showcasing Shelburne!