People & Places

Vermont Conversation: Chamber music for the people

Green Mountain Chamber Music. Courtesy photo

The Vermont Conversation with David Goodman is a VTDigger podcast that features in-depth interviews on local and national issues with politicians, activists, artists, changemakers and citizens who are making a difference. Listen below, and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts or Spotify to hear more.

You never know where you will hear chamber music in Vermont. You could encounter a string quartet performing in a bookstore. In a café. At a bar. Or a retirement community.

If it’s July, the musicians are likely to be participants in the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival. Started in 2005, the festival attracts more than 200 young string musicians from high school to graduate school. The program is based at St. Michael’s College for a monthlong intensive of coaching, rehearsing and performing with a faculty of experienced teachers and performers. Then they take their talents on the road and perform classical music at venues all around downtown Burlington in a series they call Classical Encounters.

The Vermont Conversation spoke with three of the musicians about their musical journeys and their hopes for the future. 

Andrés Celis is a 19-year-old cello player from Venezuela whose family fled his home and moved to the U.S. so he and his brother could pursue music. 

Jalayne Mitchell, 22, took refuge from a tumultuous home life by teaching herself cello. She then landed a scholarship to study at a conservatory in Scotland. 

Layla Morris, 19, is a cello player who grew up in Hinesburg and is now attending the renowned Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. 

The Vermont Conversation also spoke with Elizabeth Chang, the artistic director of the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival.

For Mitchell, playing cello is about more than just music. 

“It meant safety to me. It meant … not having to survive,” she said. “A lot of my life I felt unsafe. The cello gives me that sense of safety that I have not experienced anywhere else. I can just explore what I want. … I can see what I’m capable of.”

Podcast includes musical excerpts.

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David Goodman

About David

David Goodman is an award-winning journalist and the author of a dozen books, including four New York Times bestsellers that he co-authored with his sister, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. His work has appeared in Mother Jones, New York Times, Outside, Boston Globe and other publications. He is the host of The Vermont Conversation, a VTDigger podcast featuring in-depth interviews about local and national topics. The Vermont Conversation is also an hour-long weekly radio program that can be heard on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on WDEV/Radio Vermont.

Email: [email protected]

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