Juno Orchestra celebrates southern Vermont’s musical legacy

Juno Orchestra
Zon Eastes. Photo by Karen Engdahl.

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – When Zon Eastes lifts his baton to start the Juno Orchestra “Senza Zefiri” concert Sunday, Feb. 10, he will be nearing the halfway point of a musical adventure that blends local professional musicians, talented soloists who received early musical training nearby, curious and appreciative audiences, and fresh musical arrangements and compositions.

Eastes, a noted cellist and former longtime director of the Windham Orchestra in Brattleboro, started the Juno Orchestra in the spring of 2017 to fulfill a personal dream. “We have such an amazing collection of top-level musicians living in the Brattleboro and southern Vermont area. Most of them make a living by taking gigs all around the region. I’ve always wanted to create a group where they could perform together locally and Juno gives us that opportunity,” he said as he sifted through a stack of sheet music in preparation for the upcoming concert.

Citing a number of happy coincidences, Eastes described the beginning of the Juno project. Funding for paying the musicians came from the sale of two valuable cellos, one owned by Eastes’ sister-in-law, Sandy Spencer, and one owned by Jo Dorchester, the “Juno” in the orchestra’s name, he explained. “Then we were asked to be the chamber orchestra in residence when the new Brattleboro Music Center facility opened,” he continued. “We were thrilled to play the first concert in the new hall in September of 2017.” Musicians responded eagerly to the new opportunity. “I’m heartened by the music-making at such an amazingly high level,” he said. This year the group will produce three concerts and Eastes hopes they will be able to produce two or three more per year for another two years. “It’s a time-limited project,” he said, “and we’re enjoying every minute of it.”

When asked why the Brattleboro and southern Vermont area is such a hotbed of musical talent, Eastes identified the legacy of early musical pioneers including Blance and Marcel Moyse, the Serkins and Marlboro College, and David Wells. “We’re the beneficiaries of their energy and commitment,” he said. “The mid-century musicians who moved up to Vermont created the organizations such as the Bach Festival and the Brattleboro Music Center that nurtured the next generation of musical talent and encouraged good musicians to persist here.”

Local audiences will have to chance to hear the current line up of talented string players at the Juno Strings “Senza Zefiri” – meaning “without winds” – concert Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. at the Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro. On the program are a 17th-century chamber work by Biber, an orchestral arrangement of a contemporary string quartet by Philip Glass, and the lovely Dvorak Serenade for Strings.

“Even if you’re not sure you like ‘classical music,’ I’m urging you to give it a try,” said Eastes. “You don’t need to be familiar with this repertoire to like it. No one should feel shy.”

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Juno Orchestra website at www.junoorchestra.org.

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