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Social Band explores the theme of rest in a restless world

BURLINGTON Social Band, Burlington's lively band of singers, blends together choral styles old and new from diverse sources to present a program entitled, Idle and Blessed: Exploring Rest in a Restless World. Pieces include premieres of new works by Vermont composers Tom Cleary, Sara Doncaster, Michael Hopkins, Don Jamison, Michael Kellogg, Will Patton and Liz Thompson. Four concerts will be presented on the following dates: Saturday, November 3, 7:30 p.m. at the Richmond Public Library; Sunday, November 4, 4 p.m. at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Newport (sponsored by Music For A Sunday Afternoon: www.musicforasundayafternoon.com, 802-334-7365); Saturday, November 10, 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Church in Burlington; Sunday, November 11, 4 p.m. at the United Church in Northfield (sponsored by the Paine Mountain Arts Council: 802-485-8903). Artistic Director Amity Baker observes, In our culture, more often than not, we don't leave time for stillness or space to allow things to unfold. We boss our lives around cutting ourselves off from the flavor and texture of life. With this program we hope to give ourselves and our listeners an opportunity to sit with the subject of idleness and rest - at least for a while. Seven Vermont composers were invited to create new choral works exploring the idea of rest, which provide the core of this program. Michael Kellogg borrows a line in his piece from Pablo Neruda that says it would be an exotic moment without rush and without engines, inviting the listener to retreat from the bustle of the day and look inward. Will Patton chooses words from a Billy Collins poem which celebrates throwing off the light covers, feet on the cold floor, and buzzing around the house on espresso, exhorting the listener to embrace that first moment of waking and take in everything that's around. Liz Thompson explores a Mary Oliver poem, while Don Jamison has created a piece titled The Measure of the Stars, using text from Rilke and Kathleen Raine. Michael Hopkins interprets Walt Whitman's Reconciliation, and Tom Cleary has set Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem The Sea and the Skylark to music. Sara Doncaster sets a poem by April Naoko Heck, After the Comet Hyakutake that begins, Take off your work shoes and let's go there, Mother, to the island of one hundred bamboos, to the island of one hundred wood hollows sipping down the sun. Early European and American songs, including pieces by Lassus, Byrd and Weelkes, and selections from Social Bands 2005 Vermont Composers Project round out this exploration of rest. The women of Social Band present Orlandus Lassus In Pace, which shares that peacefully I immediately fall asleep and lie at rest... William Byrds Let Not The Sluggish Sleep cautions that falling asleep with just one sin on ones conscience is worse than facing twenty mortal foes. The early American shape note hymn Warren says, Welcome, sweet sleep, that drivst away the toils and follies of the day. The frivolous side of idleness is also explored with several tunes extolling the virtues of worldly pleasures. Tickets are available at the door for all shows. Admission is by suggested donation of $10 for Newport, and $12 for Richmond, Burlington and Northfield. Advance tickets for the Richmond and Burlington shows are available from the Flynn Regional Box Office, 802-86-FLYNN (863-5966), www.flynntix.org. For more information, visit www.socialband.org, or call 802-658-8488. Social Band was founded in 1998 to explore the diverse repertoires of traditional, early and contemporary music. Now directed by Amity Baker, their presentation strikes a balance between raw exuberance and polished sound. This mixed chorus of 20 singers has become known for their signature mix of homegrown and international choral works spanning the millennia, with a focus on new works by Vermont composers. In 2005, Social Band commissioned 25 Vermont composers to write new choral works. This grant-funded project was so well received that the group secured a new round of grant funding to present this Fall's concerts with seven new choral works, and also to present a program in Spring 2008 on the theme of Rolling Up Our Sleeves: Celebrating the Season of Renewed Activity. Composers writing for Spring 2008 include Betsy Brigham, David Gunn, Colin McCaffrey, Thomas L. Read, Pete Sutherland, and others. This concert is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Vermont Arts Endowment Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, by a generous gift from the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, and by the many gifts from our patrons.

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