A Note from the Music Director

Our 55th Season

April 19, 2021

Our 55th season is coming together as we navigate the necessary precautions and restrictions of the on-going COVID pandemic.  We have decided not to make a full move back indoors this summer.  Instead, we are phasing ourselves back to a more normal season offering a mixture of indoor and outdoor events (click here to see schedule dates).  We will be announcing the full programs and artists soon.

This summer we are offering two types of programs.  Our concerts presented indoors will be 75 minutes in length and performed without intermission.  These will feature our usual combinations of familiar masterworks and wonderful surprises. Concerts presented outdoors will be generally lighter fare and last about one hour.

We look forward to gathering again to share a summer of music.

Stay well,

Fran Rowell

The 2020 Season in Review

9 weeks, 22 concerts, 1045 patrons

From Craftsbury to Plainfield, Burlington to Lincoln, and Glover to Waterbury, the Craftsbury Chamber Players brought the music to the people!

In March, when the extent of the COVID crisis was first registering, we made the decision to cancel our traditional summer season. By May this decision proved to be prescient as our venues were compelled to shut their doors and restrictions on gatherings were made official. With no clear idea if we would be able to offer any live programming to our audience, we decided to lay some groundwork just in case.

Our first step in making live music happen was to answer the question “Where can we practically and safely offer a masked and socially-distanced concert?” Open-air concerts present major obstacles for chamber music ensembles. Acoustic instruments do not resonate and project well without a sound shell of some kind and the elements wreak havoc on them. Amplification limits the expressiveness and tends to sound artificial. The notion of having a mobile sound shell where we could simply amplify the blended sound was born. Fran Rowell made a sketch of her vision, utilizing a portable tent and disused acoustic panels erected on a utility trailer.

Dave Rowell found us the perfect stage in the form of an abandoned trailer frame entwined in a thicket of saplings. He hooked a large chain to it, dragged it out of the copse, and hauled it home to East Craftsbury on what was left of the tires. After fitting hemlock boards for a floor and some very artful metal fabricating and welding at East Hill Auto, we had our stage on a roadworthy trailer!

Special thank you to David Rowell!

Our next step was to see who among our artists might be able to safely travel here and join Fran and Mary Rowell (who had been here since the crisis began) to perform. Ultimately none of our people could leave home for all sorts ofreasons. Until mid-July we were still uncertain of who might be here to play, but had a plan to mount a piano trio program with Montpelier pianist and conductor Mary Jane Austin. With that first concert ready to go we loaded up the trailer and did a test run in the parking lot of the Craftsbury General Store. The acoustic shell felt great to play in, people could hear us unamplified, and the power inverter plugged into the truck cigarette lighter fully powered the piano. Forty-five people showed up with one day’s notice to check it out. We launched our first official program three days later on Craftsbury Common for an audience of 115. At that point we amplified the instruments but only to share the sound we were achieving in our little ‘portable parlor’ over a large area.

Repeat performances of this first trio program were offered on the lawn of the Hardwick Town House, the Plainfield Recreation Field, the porch of the Waterbury Congregational Church, and a hay field in South Burlington. We began touring a second trio program at the Bread & Puppet Theater in Barton [where we discovered that running our full sound system on an auto cigarette lighter required three vehicles to complete the program and jumper cables to go home. That program was offered in Craftsbury, Plainfield, South Burlington, and Waterbury as well as Stowe and Lincoln. A third program of string quartets was offered in Plainfield, Craftsbury, and South Burlington. For this we were joined by two of Fran’s New Jersey Symphony Orchestra colleagues who have a home in Brownington, violinists JoAnna Farrer and Darryl Kubian.

All of our public concerts were mounted with the caveat that, should the weather not cooperate, we would switch days and/or hours on short notice. We used our website, Facebook, Front Porch Forum, and our toll- free number to get the word out. All in all, we put on three programs with a variety of music, performing 22 concerts over nine weeks, and served a little over 1000 patrons.

There are many heroes who made this all succeed.  Incredible gratitude to:

  • David Rowell for finding and paying for the repair of our trailer
  • Ron Geoffrey for his great work on the trailer
  • Jessie Glass for keeping our website current-a major challenge!
  • Mary Rowell for manning the Facebook page
  • Hester Fuller for handling Front Porch Forum posts
  • Emily McClure for letting us test our stage at the Genny
  • Harry Miller for coordinating the use of Craftsbury Common
  • Helen Rabin for coordinating the use of the Plainfield Recreation Field
  • Pastor Peter Plagge for inviting us to play at the Waterbury Congregational Church
  • Sarah Dopp for allowing us to use her field in South Burlington (and for mowing the one-acre expanse with a riding mower!)
  • The Burlington Committee for posting information and making calls to get the word out about upcoming concerts
  • Peter Schumann for allowing us to perform at the Bread & Puppet Circus Field and Esteli Kitchen for coordinating the details
  • Lynn Paparella and Stowe Performing Arts for inviting us to play and supporting our appearance in Stowe
  • Kathleen Kolb for inviting us to appear in Lincoln and handling the arrangements with the Lincoln Library