By Sheri Duff
It may be difficult to find inspiration in everyday life, but a meeting with Burlington Ensemble (BE) Artistic Directors Michael Dabroski and Sofia Hirsch about its Summer Serenade concert series left this writer truly moved. Over coffee and a sweet treat, Dabroski and Hirsch explained BE in a way that was easy to understand and even easier to explain. BE plays more than just notes in its performances; it is a sustainable business model with a social mission.
BE is a “for-profit” performing arts business owned by professional musicians who are able to maximize revenues made through a classical concert series known as Summer Serenades, and minimize expenses while increasing artistic production. This new business model put forth by BE, now in its third summer season, allows for making classical music in various ways that strengthen and empower communities. In other words, BE does not solicit tax-deductible contributions. Instead, Summer Serenades concert ticket income provides the financial resources to pay BE bills throughout the year (90 percent pays for programming and 10 percent for administrative costs).
“Burlington Ensemble has demonstrated that this business model works. It is efficient, sustainable, and there is no greater value for the money,” informed Dabroski. “For only $30 a ticket, attendees will enjoy high quality entertainment this summer that will finance fundraising concerts benefitting local non-profit organizations and educational programs year round. Burlington Ensemble makes music with a social mission. It’s as simple as that.”
And it is that simple. There are 10 chamber music concerts performed by world-class musicians beginning Tuesday, July 23 in Shelburne that span a three-week period this summer. “Back in 2010 Town Manager Paul Bohne and the Selectboard put forth a resolution that the summer home of the Burlington Ensemble would be Shelburne,” mentioned Dabroski. “They take their role seriously.”
That’s why seven of the 10 performances are scheduled in town, four at Shelburne Farms and three at All Souls Interfaith Gathering (ASIG). And unlike other performances at other venues, the weather is never a factor; gates open at 5:30 pm for outdoor picnicking and indoor concerts begin promptly at 7:30 pm.
This is how your ticket purchase makes a difference: Sold out Summer Serenade performances will help BE support local nonprofit organizations like Vermont FEED and Vermont Conservation Youth Corps and provide educational programs for disadvantaged youth.
“One program we developed is Summer Time, a five-day workshop offered in Shelburne to select young children from the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington,” Hirsh explained. “The children, ages 8-10, are mentored with music, specifically violin lessons, but they also have an outdoor discovery component that includes activities at Shelburne Farms and Shelburne Museum.” And that’s not all. “We also developed a String Quartet Project, a week-long half-day camp in collaboration with music-COMP geared for middle school students with some composition experience also taking place in Shelburne,” Hirsh said passionately. “There’s nothing better for these youngster musicians than to compose a piece and later hear it performed by professional musicians. It’s magical.”
Extend the magic. Browse the concert schedule that follows, purchase a ticket or a 10-concert BE pass, and enjoy some local concerts. Invite your business associates, neighbors, friends, and family. At such an affordable price, it’s unlikely anyone will resist your efforts to support the arts.
The concert schedule is as follows:
July 23: Opening Night, Shelburne Farms*
July 24: Gypsy Night, Shelburne Farms*
July 25: Café Night at Shelburne Farms*
July 30: Phantasy Night, ASIG
July 31: A Midsummer Night, ASIG
Aug. 1, All Mozart Night, ASIG
Aug.7: Starry Night, Basin Harbor Club
Aug. 8: Starry Night, West Monitor Barn**
Aug. 9: Starry Night, Castleton State College
Aug.10: Starry Night, Shelburne Farms*
*25 percent of ticket proceeds benefit Vermont FEED
**25 percent of ticket proceeds benefit Vermont Conservation Youth Corps