BY STEVEN JUPITER
BRANDON—In many ways, Brandon punches above its weight. For a small town, it has an enviably rich cultural scene. BARN OPERA, the town’s resident opera company, is one of those cultural assets you’d expect to find in a much larger setting. And it’s already having a great year.
On Wednesday the 15th, the company’s artistic director and renowned tenor, Josh Collier, performed the devotional at the Statehouse in Montpelier to open the day’s House session, at the invitation of Brandon’s State Representative, Stephanie Jerome. Collier sang “Bring Him Home” from the Broadway show Les Misérables.
“I was so honored to be asked to give the devotional,” Collier wrote on Facebook. “I was stopped afterwards by quite a few members who made a point to say how moved they were, which was wonderful and I was grateful for, but also, that they realize how important the arts and the creative/cultural sector is to the economy in the state – especially since today was arts advocacy day at the state house, it could not have been better planning!”
That evening, Collier, Nick Tocci, Claire Black, and Helen Lyons performed for the Legislature at Farmers Night. The tradition of having performers entertain lawmakers on Wednesday nights at the Statehouse goes back over 100 years. BARN OPERA did Brandon proud with a knockout program that included show tunes as well as classical opera.
BARN OPERA has also just announced that it will begin the Otter Creek Music Festival this July, taking over the management of the Salisbury Summer Performance Series. In a press release announcing this development, Collier stated, “After 42 years under the leadership of Glenn Andres, the Salisbury Summer Performance Series annually brought concerts of all varieties to the Salisbury Congregational Meetinghouse.
Supported by donations from the attending public and from grants from Vermont arts and humanities organization, The Salisbury Summer Series was at a crossroads, with a devoted audience, but dwindling organizational infrastructure. It was imperative that the series continue, even if not in its original method.
BARN OPERA, a 501(c)3 in Vermont has an annual connection to the Salisbury Congregational Meetinghouse as the location for its annual holiday production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, and knows well the beauty of the space, and the intimacy of the acoustics, perfect for opera and chamber music alike. It is no wonder that Point Counterpoint – the chamber music summer training program located on Lake Dunmore – continues to use the church for its esteemed annual faculty concerts.
With the objective to keep music in the Salisbury Congregational Meetinghouse, but also to provide a more accessible and wide-reaching programming, Andres approached Boston-based administrator, director, and tenor, Joshua Glassman to become the new director of the series.
After substantive meetings with Joshua Collier (BARN OPERA’s Artistic Director) and relevant parties, it was decided that the Salisbury Summer Performance Series would become Otter Creek Music Festival, and would be under the fiscal sponsorship of BARN OPERA, as a chamber music festival furthers BARN OPERA’s mission, and fills a need within the community and facilitates this wonderful program to continue under the capable leadership of Joshua Glassman, with the support of BARN OPERA and Artistic Director, Joshua Collier.
Joshua Glassman is a multi-talented administrator, with experience as both a director and tenor, with degrees from the University of Michigan and the Peabody Institute. Mr. Glassman has served on the voice faculty and directed the Glee Club at the University of Pennsylvania and is a former member of the Opera Philadelphia Chorus, the Princeton Festival Baroque Chorus, the Mendelssohn Club and, currently, Boston’s Cantata Singers and Nightingale Vocal Ensemble.
Under his direction, the Festival, with a mix of donation and set-admission events, will continue to offer a range of performances in a mix of genres featuring familiar, local performers, and also musicians from farther regions to the Green Mountains.
In its inaugural year as Otter Creek Music Festival, the festival is actively working to build a $15,000 endowment to assure that the chamber musical offerings of quality will continue to be offered at the Salisbury Meetinghouse, and the BARN OPERA House, to serve audiences from near and far, for many future seasons.
Tickets will be available beginning this spring via BARN OPERA’s ticketing platform. While concert tickets aren’t available just yet, Otter Creek Music Festival is actively seeking sponsors and donations for the operations of the festival, as well as housing hosts who would be willing to host artists for the festival. Please email director of Otter Creek Music Festival, Joshua Glassman at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can get involved in furthering the tradition of summer chamber music in the Brandon/Salisbury areas.”
Though tickets aren’t yet available for the Otter Creek Festival, you can still get seats for this weekend’s productions of The Letters of Charlotte, an adaptation by Josh Collier of Jules Massenet’s opera Werther. Tickets can be purchased at www.barnopera.com.