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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

New 'JukeBox' Series Brings 'Modern Take' On Chamber Music To ArtsRiot

Matthew Thorsen
VSO executive director Ben Cadwallader works to bring innovative programs to new audiences with the 'JukeBox' music series.

Ben Cadwallader grew up in Vermont's classical music scene, both as a musician and as a patron. Since returning to Vermont from California to serve as the executive director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra a year ago, Cadwallader shows his passion for new and innovative programs that appeal to many audiences with the series, JukeBox, co-produced with local performance space, ArtsRiot in Burlington.

"We're not just doing cool things to do cool things," Cadwallader said. He recently visited VPR just ahead of a JukeBox performance to talk about reaching different audiences while still including keeping the VSO "family" — those familiar fans who regularly support the orchestra's more traditional programs and settings — satisfied and inspired.

The JukeBox series is curated by local composer Matt LaRocca. Cadwallader says LaRocca choses certain traditional as well as contemporary pieces from a variety of composers crossing all genres. He then invites the chamber musicians to tell the audience how the pieces differ from their perspective as performers.

"Chamber music ... it's supposed to be intimate. You breathe the same air as the musicians, you can see the sweat on their brow, you can see the strings vibrating. It is supposed to be an intimate experience." — Ben Cadwallader, executive director of the VSO

"That's the spirit in which most of this music was originally intended. Chamber music ... it's supposed to be intimate," Cadwallader says. "You breathe the same air as the musicians, you can see the sweat on their brow, you can see the strings vibrating. It is supposed to be an intimate experience.

"So, I would argue that what we are doing at ArtsRiot [with JukeBox] is certainly a modern take. The composers wrote this music to make that personal connection with the audience and that's how these pieces were premiered and that's again, a modern take on how we are presenting them today."

This, says Cadwallader, is "another great way that we can bring in a more traditional audience and also bring in someone who has never set foot into a classical music performance before."

The nextJukeBox program in the series is Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 at ArtsRiot in Burlington.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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