Folk concert kicks off concert series on Middlebury green

MIDDLEBURY — Gentle folk music overlaid with the chatter and laughter of families and children drifted through downtown Middlebury this past Wednesday evening.
This mini-concert on the green marked the inaugural Summer Music Series in Middlebury, which will bring a free concert to the green each month of the summer.
Musician Molly McEachen, who performed original folk pieces with musical partner Ashley Storrow, was please with the way the inaugural concert came off.
“It was a great family event, and a great way to bring the community together and to support the community with music at the heart of it,” she said following her performance. “I had a great time.”
Better Middlebury Partnership joined forces with the Middlebury Community Music Center (MCMC) to create the series. 
Folk Concert on the Green from Addison Independent on Vimeo.
MCMC drew from its wide range of faculty and staff to create these community-centered concert programs. This first concert fell under the theme “Folk with interactive early childhood music.”
“We have wanted to work with the MCMC for a while now,” said BMP marketing coordinator Karen Duguay. “They’re a really valuable community asset.”
Wednesday’s concert was the first time that the MCMC has performed for this scale outdoors.
“It’s very exciting,” said MCMC Director Sadie Brightman. “It helps us fulfill our outreach mission too, which is bringing music to the community as much as possible.”
On Wednesday, families and children sat on picnic blankets on the green and enjoyed a series of original folk pieces written by performers Storrow and McEachen.
The guitar and voice duo also invited children to join in the performance with a series of classics such as “You Are My Sunshine” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” MCMC brought early childhood instruments such as tambourines and shakers to the green. The children chose their own instruments and added their own unique sounds to the music.
The MCMC also set up a coloring station with free popsicles alongside the BMP’s free face painting station. Several children filled in various reds, greens and blues over outlined portraits of Mozart and Bach.
“I’m coloring,” proclaimed 7-year-old Milly at the coloring station.
The Summer Music Series is part of the Better Middlebury Partnership’s Experience Middlebury initiative is working on bringing to the town. Following BMP’s mission to make Middlebury a better place to live, work and play, the organization focuses on promoting the town of Middlebury as the central hub for the surrounding area.
This summer, BMP decided to give the annual MiddSummer Fest — a late-July event featuring Vermont beverages and food — a break in order to reevaluate the direction of future summer events. The Summer Fest has been a tradition in the town of Middlebury for the past few years, but is difficult to maintain due to volunteer shortages and competition with similar events throughout the area, according to Duguay.
“I think it’s exciting, especially in the summer, to see a lot of variety,” she said. “I think our focus now is shifting away from one big event and to wanting to do many smaller events throughout.”
While the concert provided the opportunity for families and children to relax and have fun, it also provided business opportunities in town. BMP asked stores, restaurants and sidewalk sales to stay open until the start of the event to encourage shopping and dining in the downtown area to draw more people into Middlebury.
Duguay hopes that this series will be the first in an ongoing effort to draw people into downtown Middlebury on a regular basis. With the upcoming rail project to leave downtown Middlebury in patches of construction work in the summer of 2017, the BMP hopes to maintain a consistent stream of people into the downtown area with more such events in the future.
MCMC and BMP will host two more concerts in the Summer Music Series, with a jazz quartet on July 27 and a chamber music duo on Aug. 24. Both concerts will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday nights.  

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