Zon Eastes, a longtime Brattleboro musician, is also now the founder and conductor of a new professional chamber orchestra in the area.
Eastes recently spoke to VPR about the orchestra and its program, as well as how he sees it fitting into the arts landscape of the state.
Below are excerpts from that interview. Listen to the audio above for more.
The orchestra's mission:
"I think that it's important to acknowledge the fact that musicians, artists, are working in their communities and they need to be recognized as part of the fabric, the economic fabric, of a community. And that's certainly the case in Brattleboro," Eastes says.
"The arts in Vermont are everywhere, and they are a sturdy part of the economy. We know that now. So I think it's just important to say that, and why not have a mission statement that acknowledges that as well?"
The orchestra's program:
"Well one of the things is the program is not incredibly challenging, either for the orchestra or for the audience," Eastes says. "And my thinking there is that we just need to get together and find out who we are and what it feels like to play together. And that can be done with music and genres that we all feel comfortable with — better than if ... we were to start off, like, with a 21st-century program right away."
The music scene in southern Vermont:
"Brattleboro is very rich in music," Eastes says.
He notes some of the musical history of the area, including the establishment of the Marlboro Music Festival and the Yellow Barn Festival in Putney, as well as Blanche Moyse's role in providing a space for people to play music.
"It's very, very active," Eastes continues. "Juno [Orchestra] is going to be, I think, one of those one of those energies. And we're not affiliated right now with any particular organization. The Brattleboro Music Center is being very helpful and very supportive of us.
"You know, we'll see where it falls. I can say that the musicians that are part of the Juno Orchestra, ... many people will recognize them as being the very best musicians of the region."
The arts economy in Vermont:
"There are lots of ways in which the arts and creativity can play into Vermont's economy and general well-being," Eastes says. "We know that the creative sector in the state of Vermont accounts for about 9 percent of the jobs. And by any reckoning, that is huge. We're above the national average, as you might expect, for the number of people that live and work in the creative sector.
"And when we talk about those jobs, we're not talking just about people who are musicians or artists or designers, but we're talking about also the jobs that those people create. So for instance, I have to have a production manager to help me with this concert — that person's working in the creative economy now.
"We also know, for instance, that we were part of a national study about how audiences spend money when they go to an event and people may not know that apart from the cost of a ticket, the standard average Vermonter will spend about between $20 and $25 to go to a regular event. We also know that non-Vermonters, our visitors to events, will spend twice as much money into the economy.
"So Vermont works heavy and hard with tourism. And here's an incredible asset that could be used in the state of Vermont where already there's so much art, there's so much creativity, there's so many events around the state. ... This chamber orchestra, the Juno Orchestra, is not going to be a big player but it is going to be contributing to that overall picture. And for me that's what's most important."