© 2023 Vermont Public | PRIVACY

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact hello@vermontpublic.org or call 802-655-9451
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

A Conversation with Andrew Crust and Tracy Silverman

Vermont Symphony Orchestra
used with permission
Conductor Andrew Crust leads the VSO February 4th in a program which features soloist Tracy Silverman in the Vermont premiere of "Ficciones," an electric violin concerto by Roberto Sierra.

ANDREW CRUST: I think we need contemporary music because people understand it. It's about today, it's about our present situation. Are we adapting to the new world? And I really see that that's something Vermont is doing.

JAMES STEWART: That’s the voice of Andrew Crust, currently the music director of the Lima Symphony Orchestra in Ohio and the guest conductor for the next performance of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. The VSO is presenting the concert “Electric Dreams” Saturday, February 4th, 7:30pm at the Flynn Center in Burlington. I had a chance to meet with Andrew over Zoom and talk about his background and connections with Vermont.

ANDREW: I was born in Kansas city. So, although I presently live in Canada; Vancouver, Canada, I am an American. But I started, in proper, at McGill University in Montreal. So I immersed myself in the Canadian culture there and specifically Quebecois culture. And while I was in Montreal I would come down to Burlington all the time. So, I know it very well. It's a little bit like coming back home and it's going to be really exciting knowing some people in the orchestra this time.

HIGH RES -5376.jpg
Andrew Crust
Conductor Andrew Crust is the final Musical Candidate for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.

JAMES: Andrew Crust is also the final Music Director candidate for the VSO as the orchestra is seeking to fill that position after over 20 years of Jaime Laredo’s leadership. Andrew has worked with an impressive number of
ensembles all around the world and is very enthusiastic about meeting the VSO for the first time.

ANDREW: You meet the orchestra through the rehearsal process and the performance and you get to know each other in a musical way, which is really exciting and it can sometimes take a whole day to really figure out how we interact with one another. But it always comes to fruition and sometimes it's really magical. It's just a really exciting process to put all of this together and every orchestra is different. So, I love the journey of discovery of finding who these people are and what we can do together. It's sort of like that process of emergence, you know, out of something comes something even larger. I'm looking forward to getting to know the personality of the orchestra and of the city.

JAMES: Andrew has strong ideas about outreach and growing the audience for a symphony orchestra in today’s world. For Andrew it’s about…

ANDREW: …recognizing the fact that many people, although they have access to classical music via Youtube and Spotify, maybe they've only seen it in films or in video games. So we have to be better communicators. We have to be out in the public. We have to be present online and we have to speak from the stage or from the podium and bring people in where we are. It's not enough to just assume that if you build it, they will come. Really, it's a matter of bringing more people in and that happens through programming and communication and bringing in great soloists as well.

JAMES: Tell us a bit about the concert “Electric Dreams” that the VSO is presenting on February 4th.

ANDREW: This is a program that has something for everybody. The program starts with a piece that I chose by Jocelyn Morlock. She's a friend of mine, a British Columbian composer. It's called Oiseaux bleus et sauvages, “Wild Blue Birds.” To me, this is a minimalist piece and it has all these fragmentary ideas that overlap and engage with one another and it sounds like you're listening to birds as you walk through a forest.

JAMES: Also on the program is the Vermont premiere of a brand-new work, co-commissioned by the VSO and performed by a world-renowned virtuoso on an unusual instrument.

TRACY SILVERMAN: Hey, I'm Tracy Silverman. I am an electric violinist and I am the soloist on this concert for the premiere of Roberto Sierra's Ficciones electric violin concerto. This instrument is not only electric, but it's a 6-string electric, so it's a violin with two lower additional strings. So it's kind of like the entire string section or a string quartet in one instrument.

WO tall hi-res copy.jpg
Tracy Silverman
used with permission
Electric violinist Tracy Silverman is the featured soloist for the Vermont premiere of "Ficciones" by composer Roberto Sierra.

JAMES: Tracy has been creating and developing this instrument for the past 40 years and is eager to share with the VSO audience everything that this electric violin can do.

TRACY: First of all, you can use effects on it as you would with an electric guitar. So all kinds of effects like distortion, delays (which most people think of as echoes) or other kinds of sound changing effects. I'm a huge fan of a lot of electric guitar players, which is not something you hear from a lot of Juilliard grads.

JAMES: Tell us the story of how this new electric violin concerto, Ficciones came to be.

TRACY: It started about 10 years ago when I first met Roberto here in Nashville, which is where I live. The Nashville Symphony was playing a work of his, which just blew me away and I started to put this idea in his head of writing a piece for me. It's four movements. Each movement is based on a short story by Jorge Louis Borges who is a wonderful and sort of metaphysical author from Argentina. And it was a co-commission of five orchestras. All very forward thinking organizations, ready to take chances on new music which is part of the game; which is part of the whole fun of it.

ANDREW: There are not a lot of new sounds in the world anymore. And the fact that this is a brand new piece of music is always a special occasion. It's so colorful, it's so interesting. And then you pair that with just one of the most gorgeous melodic masterworks of all time, which is just gonna rip you from one edge of the emotional spectrum to another in Tchaikovsky five. But it's a very colorful program. Like I said, it's not every day you get two living composers on one program, so I'm very excited about it. This concert, if you've never seen a symphony orchestra before, is a great place to start.

JAMES: That was Andrew Crust the VSO’s final Music Director candidate and the conductor of the upcoming concert “Electric Dreams” on Saturday, February 4th, 7:30pm at the Flynn Center in Burlington.

James Stewart is Vermont Public Classical's afternoon host. As a composer, he is interested in many different genres of music; writing for rock bands, symphony orchestras and everything in between.