Song Fest brings beautiful music to Middlebury

A group of incredible vocal and instrumental artists are coming together to promote some of the best in the musical arts and crafts this weekend in the inaugural Middlebury Song Fest. In conjunction with Middlebury Community Music Center, this festival and concert series celebrates classical song in the idyllic setting of the Green Mountains of Vermont. The theme of the event is “Wild and Wonderful … all things natural, seasonal and romantic.” With three concerts over two days — plus the opportunity to sit in on a “master class” — Middlebury Song Fest brings together singers from around the northeastern United States to not only sing and explore the classical song repertoire, but to engage deeply with audiences and inspire creativity, reflection, participation and joy.
English and American poets and musicians from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries will be the guides as performers play, sing, reflect, relate and wonder. Concerts vary from exploratory and experimental, to debuts of original music, to traditional art song.
The festival kicks off on Friday evening, May 18, 7:30 p.m., at the Middlebury Community Music Center on Main Street in Middlebury, with a concert that explores the intricate relationship between poetry, music and the listener. Singers and pianists from both Boston and Vermont will lead listeners on a journey of the heart and mind as they play with poetry, music and our relationship with them. The featured artists will be Liz Anker, Andrew Binns, Peter Cirka, Ali Dawson Gibson, Cynthia Huard and Betty Kafumbe.
In a Saturday afternoon salon at the MCMC, there will be an opportunity for some of Vermont’s developing artists and students to hone their collaborative musical skills. Participants may include college students beginning their musical careers, budding composers sharing newly written music, as well as vocalist and pianists of all ages.
It will start with a Master Class at 1 p.m., led by Dawn Pierce (voice), Ali Gibson (voice), Peter Cirka (piano) and Cynthia Huard (piano). Watch and listen to students’ learning experiences and witness the process of how a pianist and singer learn to work together and fine tune their performance. Round the afternoon off with a 3 p.m. performance of the songs worked on during the Master Class. Experts will provide post-show advice to the musicians.
Saturday evening, May 19, the third of three concerts in the series will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, 2 Duane Court. It will feature truly top-shelf talent — mezzo-soprano Dawn Pierce, tenor Joshua Collier and soprano Sarah Cullins — as they come together to share some of their favorite English and American arts songs. These lovely and talented singers debut Middlebury Song Fest’s opening season exploring poetry, music and all things wild and wonderful.
Among the composers whose works will be heard are Samuel Barber, Benjamin Britten and Aaron Copland. Poets from Emily Dickinson and Jessica Jackson to James Agee and James Joyce will be featured.
Local pianist Cynthia Huard and Boston-based pianist Peter Cirka will accompany these fine singers. Expect to experience a lovely evening of song!
The suggested donation for the Friday performance is $10; for Saturday night it is $20. Saturday’s master class is free. For more information and to buy tickets go online to middleburysongfest.org.

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