“Summer Serenades” wind down

Concert-goers enjoy picnicking at Shelburne Farms.
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl

By Rachel Dunphy

Editor’s Note: The Burlington Ensemble has scheduled an encore performance to benefit Vermont FEED on Saturday, Aug. 11 at Shelburne Farms’ Coach Barn. Outdoor picnicking will begin at 5:30 pm and an indoor concert will begin at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $30/pp, available at www.burlington ensemble.com.

At their final concert of a “Summer Serenades” series, Co-Artistic Directors of the Burlington Ensemble Michael Dabroski and Sofia Hirsch stood up to say a few words about the program. “We just had a marvelous week of making music,” said Dabroski. “We have tremendous momentum in our quest to keep this music alive in our own special way.”

Sofia Hirsch addresses the audience prior to the “Summer Serenades” concert.
Photos by Carl Heyerdahl

Dabroski and Hirsch first collaborated on a chamber music concert three years ago to raise money for a local organization, Common Roots, which works in food education for families. They both had backgrounds in classical music and a passion for non-profit work. After the success of the initial event Dabroski and Hirsch said, “We decided we needed to do more concerts like that.”

Since then, the pair has created the Burlington Ensemble (nicknamed BE), a non-profit whose goal is bringing affordable classical music performances to this area of Vermont and contributing to local organizations that support families and children. Three seasons of the year the ensemble holds “90/10” concerts in which 90 percent of the proceeds (suggested donation is $5) go to a local charity and 10 percent goes to covering the costs of the performances. The summer series, which sells tickets for $30, also helps to support the musicians involved.

It was a beautiful night at the All Souls Interfaith Gathering, which was one of the Shelburne venues for the concerts. Since last year Shelburne has been the official summer home of the Burlington Ensemble, so the majority of their summer events are held in town. The group performed serenades at Shelburne Farms and the Shelburne Vineyard, but seem to have a special relationship with All Souls where they put on three of their seven concerts last week.

The group loves playing in the midst of Shelburne’s most idyllic settings and uses the scenery to compliment their music. At the final concert, titled “Rustic Roots” (Dvorak and Beethoven pieces “of the people and the land,”) the women all wore striking blue and green dresses that perfectly complemented the lake and rolling hills that stretched out behind them.

BE musicians perform classical music at their most recent concert.
Photos by Carl Heyerdahl

All the musicians involved, including Dabroski and Hirsch who both play violin, gave a phenomenal performance that included two long classical compositions as well as three short pieces written by teenaged composers at a workshop sponsored by the Burlington Ensemble. “It was an amazing experience. It was just so cool,” said young composer David Fischer of the workshop run by “BE” affiliate Eric Nielsen.

The Ensemble hopes to continue serving Vermont in the future by cultivating young artists, endeavoring to create accessible performances, and supporting the community through non-profits. This is an organization truly devoted to creating good in our community and the town of Shelburne is certainly enriched by their presence.  “We look forward to many summers of music with you,” Dabroski and Hirsch wrote to the town in a letter introducing the summer shows. From the success of this year’s program, it seems Shelburne would return the sentiment.

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