Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vermont Summer Festivals

Ahh - my favorites. I love getting dressed in my picnic best and sitting on a lawn listening to the lovely sounds of beautiful music surrounded by all that is Vermont. Every summer I treat myself and my significant other (this summer Mitch is on two years in a row - a sure keeper!) to one performance of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and one of the Vermont Mozart Festival. I typically purchase the tickets at the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce Silent Auction for which I get a little sneaky at the end to "win." (This means I usually pay over what they are worth which is so worth it to me!)

In past years I have gone to the season closer at the end of July for the Mozart Festival at the Trapp Family Lodge and have traveled south to camp at a Vermont State Park for one of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra performances. In fact, this is such a favorite summer ritual for me, I even wrote about it in the launch issue of The Healthy Hippie Magazine for which I write an article based on my Vermont Vibes blog.

But this year, now that my Vermont public relations agency has moved from a dingy apartment in Burlington's North End to a gorgeous farmhouse rental in East Charlotte, I felt it completely necessary to experience Shelburne Farms for both concerts.

Mitch and I arrived in style for the VSO's 4th of July concert. The weather was perfect which unfortunately has plagued both festivals this summer. I think my photos do our entire experience tremendous justice - we had an absolute blast!

Only a week later we were all set to head back to Shelburne Farms with wine, grapes, cheese, salads, and cloth napkins only to learn early in the day the Mozart Festival Opener was moved inside to the Champlain Valley Exposition. Ick. With Mitch's mom and partner visiting that weekend, the highlight was to be a repeat of the glorious time we had the week before. But, it is true that too much of a good thing is never allowed. So we packed it up like true flatlanders turned Vermonters (well, I am 5th gen, twice removed) and headed far from Charlotte to the land of the fair.

We got there early so we could still have a bit of our spread and watched the event unfold with amusement. Yes, it was wet, crowded, and inside a concrete building plastered with corporate marketing banners. But it was different, in a surprisingly, musical way.

Now, I'm not going to lie - there is something purely magical in filling up with wine, cheese, grapes, and salad and using a cloth napkin to brush away the crumbs followed by watching the sun set and filling your entire body with quintessential classical music. What I find to be so lovely at the outside venues I found the lack of to be extremely musically enhancing inside. Outside the music is mixed with trees swaying, birds chirping, bugs buzzing, people watching, sky gazing and every other thing imaginable when not closing your eyes in musical interlude. But inside there were not such distractions. Oh sure, there were distractions - especially the rude people obviously so annoyed at the situation and unable to just shwill a bit more wine and chill out. Since the inside distractions were not at all enjoyable, it really forced you to close your eyes and listen and feel the music. And all of it. Not just the parts when you weren't caught daydreaming while watching a dragonfly. Mitch and I both exclaimed the rain was a blessing in disguise because we focused on each note and nuance of each movement in each set. It made a wet, potentially dissatisfying evening a complete harmony of music in our hearts and heads.

Once again, I look forward to planning my outings to both the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and the Vermont Mozart Festival next year - rain or shine indeed.

Before I close out, I must mention, plug, and promote one other summer festival in Vermont. And this one is in my own backyard yet again. Kingsland Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh is hosting the 25th Champlain Valley Folk Festival this weekend, August 1-3. While I cannot attend for the whole weekend (although I am making it a point to do so next year) I will be heading over on Saturday and possibly Friday night. If the VSO and Mozart Festival are the heart of Vermont musical experiences, the Champlain Valley Folk Festival is the soul. Please support this Vermont live music experience and take a moment to be thankful for what we have here in the Green Mountains.