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Final Festival Vlog with Music
My whirlwind week at Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival was topped off with a performance (at the Season Finale Concert) of Mozart's Flute Quartet in D major and Alberto Ginastera's "Impresiones de la Puna" with some of the superb Festival faculty members – Kevin Lawrence, violin/artistic director; Carolyn Stuart, violin; Susan Dubois, viola; Alexander Ezerman, cello. Performing and Vlogging at Green Mountain has been illuminating and inspiring. The atmosphere is positive, purposeful, filled with enthusiasm and excitement. This is a place where hard work, encouragement, and a sense of real community combine to give these young artists an intense and meaningful month of music, along wih a feeling of accomplishment that will enrich their artistry and their lives. And they also have a ton of fun in Burlington. Hats off to Kevin and Barbara Lawrence, the devoted faculty, the tireless staff, the assistants, and the supportive Board of Directors!

Shelburne Farms' Barbara York, Volunteer Guide
On 1,400 acres on the shores of Lake Champlain near Burlington, Shelburne Farms is a National Historic Landmark, and one of the most beautiful model agricultural estates ever created. Harkening back to the Gilded Age, it was created in 1886 and is now an educational nonprofit working farm with walking trails, children's farmyard, inn, restaurant, and special events. Its mission is to cultivate a conservation ethic for a sustainable future. To visit Shelburne Farms is a magical, inspiring experience, especially with a wonderful guide like Barbara York.

Sophie Wang, Violin Student
"Music is a way of communication," says 16-year-old violinist Sophie Wang. "And doing chamber music is a great way to connect." This is Sophie's second summer at Green Mountain and she has "a great group" to work with, she's studying with Kevin Lawrence, and she feels she's "really improved." A demure young woman from South Carolina, she's also full of fun, and a devoted musician.

Bob Conlon, Owner Leunig's Bistro
"It's enlightened self-interest," jests Bob Conlon when he's thanked for his support of Green Mountain and other arts organizations in Burlington. "People who go out to hear music, to see plays, go out to eat at restaurants," he says. "It's all part of a package. It's life enhancing." Bob Conlon has been enhancing people's lives for 32 years at Leunig's Bistro. There's a spirit of old Europe and the panache of Paris at Leunig's, and it's right in the heart of bustling downtown Burlington — and besides the fine food, there is lots of live music there to whet your appetite, too.

Hana Mundiya, Violin Student
14-year-old Hana Mundiya began playing the violin at age 3 and had her solo debut with the New York Philharmonic at a Young People's Concert. She has also performed as a soloist in Germany, France, and Russia. Here at Green Mountain she is working with the teachers with whom she studies in New York City – Arik Braude and Sophie Arbuckle. "In a way it's more intense for me here," says Hana. "I have to show my teachers what I can do, show them my best." A sensitive and charming teenager, Hana's love of music and her dedication to the highest standard shine through.

Jim Banicki, Head Luthier Vermont Violins
A graduate of the Chicago School of Violin Making, Jim Banicki makes and restores violins. He is the head luthier and manager of the Vermont Violins workshop. When students and faculty of Green Mountain come into the shop on Church Street in Burlington with their instruments, what kind of adjustments and repairs does he need to make? "There are small things wrong, and sometimes big things," Jim says. "Sometimes there are buzzes, or the instrument just isn't sounding right. Because they're made of wood and brought here from varied locations, they swell and contract, so you have to adjust them for this climate." A busy man, constantly in demand from visiting artists, and schools and festivals, what does Jim like about Green Mountain? "It's a great festival," he says, "With a lot of really good players, and it's an honor to have them here."

Quartet of GMCMF Students
At Green Mountain, chamber music groups are carefully put together before the summer. The players communicate with each other prior to meeting and choose the repertoire they want to explore. Sarah Land (from South Carolina) and Edward Hardy (from New York City) violins; Ryan Knott (from South Carolina) viola; and Sam Kelder (from Texas) cello, chose Sergei Prokofiev's String Quartet No. 2 in F Major Op. 92 to work on this summer. Based on folk tunes that Prokofiev heard in the foothills of the northern Caucasus mountains, the quartet was composed in about five weeks in the autumn of 1942. Here, this vibrant GMCMF group is playing the second movement (Allegro sostenuto) of Prokofiev's quartet, based on the dance, Udzh Starikov. Sarah, Edward, Ryan, and Sam say they all felt they were a "good match." They liked each other, their rehearsals were productive, and as a group they responded well to their coach. From this passionate performance you can hear that theirs was not just a "good" match — it was superb.

David Bowlin, Violin Faculty
Here violinist David Bowlin coaches violin student Emily Tisdel (with faculty pianist Dmitri Shteinberg) in the Andantino quasi allegretto from Saint-Saëns Third Violin Concerto. An active soloist, chamber musician, and teacher, David Bowlin is on the faculty at the Oberlin Conservatory, and is a founding member of ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble.) "The focus at Green Mountain is intense," he says. "Every student over the course of 6 weeks has 6 coachings and 6 lessons over the course of 4 weeks, and the combination of chamber music and solo music works hand in hand." And what is it that the students learn from playing chamber music? "They learn to match, to blend, to lead, and to follow, to phrase together, and to get along together," he says. "And these are all values that are important." The very supportive atmosphere at Green Mountain is also an asset. "There is lots of cheering and standing ovations at the student concerts," David says. "The audiences are terrific and the concerts are a chance for the students to hear their peers play dozens of different pieces. Ears grow with that kind of hearing."

Kevin Murphy, Violin Student
"The level here is very high, very focused," says this poised 18 year-old violinist Kevin Murphy, a student of Kevin Lawrence. "You practice, then you rehearse, and that allows you to try things immediately, and to get feedback from your attempts." Kevin comes from North Carolina and this is his 5th summer at Green Mountain. "I know how to pace myself with my practicing and I've learned to take that pacing with me throughout the year. And that's really a useful skill."

Mariko Shimasaki, Violin Student GMCMF
Violinist Mariko Shimasaki, a student of Chin Kim, hails from Springfield, Ohio. This is her second summer at GMCMF, and she says she's gotten used to the 4 hours of daily practice. She thinks it's "very good to practice consistently, especially in the morning when you're fresh." Mariko says that playing chamber music "gives you listening skills — you have to listen to other people and blend your sound with them, and this also gives you skills for playing solo repertoire." She finds being at GMCMF "very motivating," and this spirited 16-year-old is clearly enjoying her time here.

Kevin Lawrence, Founder/Artistic Director
Violinist Kevin Lawrence was a student and later a teacher at the Meadowmount School in Westport, New York, Ivan Galamian's school for young string players. When he'd cross Lake Champlain and visit Burlington he says, "I would feel like I was going to Paris. It was so lovely, and now, to have my own festival here is a dream come true." Founded on the model of Meadowmount, Lawrence tries to "give young people space where they can work for a month without any interruptions and distractions. We also try to take our musicians seriously as people, to be attentive to their personal styles, and their needs as human beings. It helps them play together and to do their own individual work with more satisfying and complete results. By playing chamber music they learn to speak to each other in ways that work, ways that are skillful and respectful. If they learn to speak to each other, they're also going to learn to speak to themselves, to understand not just what's wrong, but also what's right, what's better than right—what's beautiful."

My Vlog at Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival
The training of talented young musicians is essential to the future of classical music, and the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival in Burlington, Vermont, is in the forefront of teaching, inspiring, and encouraging gifted string players. In its eighth season, this one-month-long chamber music program for strings has 135 students, 30% of whom are under the age of 18. All of these gifted players are assigned chamber groups before the Festival begins, and once in residence (on the Redstone campus of the University of Vermont) they all hit the ground running. Practice hours are 8-12 Monday through Saturday, and there are coaching sessions and master classes as well. Everyone comes ready to work hard. The students know that this is what it takes to become a professional musician, and they all seem to value the opportunity. My vlog at Green Mountain will introduce you to Kevin Lawrence, the founder of the Festival, and to members of the faculty, as well as to the students themselves. And I'll take you to the exquisite waterfront on Lake Champlain and to other delightful spots in this gorgeous Green Mountain region.



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