VYO Chorus and Chorale conquer; Keillor is coming to town

COLCHESTER Norways medieval king St. Olaf is better known in Minnesota than in Vermont. But a couple of recent events have brought his name to our consciousness. A college in Northfield, Minnesota is named after him, and a fictional Minnesota town that bears his name is often mentioned on the popular weekly public radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. Jeffrey Buettner received his Bachelor of Music degree from St. Olaf College, where he studied organ and conducting. At St. Olaf, Buettner participated as singer, assistant conductor, or accompanist with every choir at the college and was a founding member of the Colleges Limestones a capella group. Now conductor of the Vermont Youth Orchestra (VYO) mixed-voice Chorus and treble Concert Chorale, Buettner guided perpetually-smiling students from over a dozen middle and high schools in a unique debut concert at St. Michaels Colleges Elley-Long Music Center on Dec. 14. Their songs were enhanced by numerous fine VYO instrumentalists. No Jingle Bells or Frosty The Snowman for Buettner and his newly-formed choral ensembles. Instead, the vocalists entertained the standing-room-only crowd with unusual but appropriate holiday fare like Rollo Dilworths gospel-like Take Me To The Water, Eric Whitacres poignant Hebrew Love Songs, and Marten Lauridsens lyric and sumptuous setting of James Agees poem Sure On This Shining Night. The first half of the concert ended with the rousing spiritual Get On Board, and the evening concluded with Jim Papouliss stirring Give Us Hope, a finale that would have pleased St. Olaf. The song was first recorded in Kristiansand, Norway by the Childrens Choir of Norway just after Norway had opened its borders to refugees from the wars in Kosovo. Want even more Olaf-influenced Buettner? The VYO Chorus will join all four VYO orchestras to present Orchestrapalooza III on Jan. 13 at 4 p.m. at the Flynn. The extravagant finale features over 140 musicians performing together on the Flynn MainStage! Tickets (Adults $10/ Students $5)for the oversized concert may be obtained through the FlynnTix Regional Box Office, 153 Main St, Burlington, www.flynntix.org , or by phone at (802) 863-5966. And what about the town named after St. Olaf? It is said to be located near a more well-known fictional Minnesota town, Lake Wobegon. And Lake Wobegons own Garrison Keillor will open the 2008 Champlain Valley Fair (Essex Jct) on Aug. 23 at 8 p.m.! Keillors A Prairie Home Companion features a mix of radio comedy sketches, live music, and Keillors signature monologue The News From Lake Wobegon. The news may also include the latest from St. Olaf. The show will be recorded in performance for national broadcast on Sept. 6. Tickets are available through FlynnTix (see info above). A limited number of Gold Circle seats will be available for $75 each; orchestra and grandstand seats are $35; and bleachers are $25. Advance tickets include admission to the Champlain Valley Fair (a $10 value). Applicable service charges apply to all tickets. From his Lake Wobegon experiences, Garrison Keillor would undoubtedly have found the VYO Chorus and Chorale children to be above averageway, way above average.

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