PUTNEY -- Some things in life are certain: Peepers peep in April, crickets chirp in August and, most notably in June, Putney hills are alive with the sound of chamber music as 28 exceptionally gifted and talented 13- to 20-year-olds from around the world converge to participate in the Yellow Barn’s Young Artists Program.
During their residency at Yellow Barn these young musicians and composers engage in an 18-day chamber music workshop consisting of intense study and practice, guided by artistic directors Seth Knopp and Mimi Hwang and coached by Yellow Barn’s faculty members, culminating in three performances in the end of June that include compositions by participants of the program.
Though these young faces arrive from around the globe, this year one in particular has strong roots in the Putney area. Eli Greenhoe is one of six composers taking part in the program who is the grandson of Joe and Betty Greenhoe, well-known locally as early, active supporters of the theater. Eli has many fond memories of spending summer and winter breaks in Putney during his school years, and so appreciates the quiet, Zen-like environment that is Yellow Barn’s setting, perfect for writing music.
Greenhoe plays guitar and piano, and has been writing music since he was 9, penning his own folk songs and lyrics, and gigging with other folk singers during high school years. It was then that he also found his passion for classical music, writing his first composition during his freshman year of high school (he has since composed pieces for many ensembles -- he already has a piece written on commission for a Brooklyn orchestra under his belt).
He said he is mostly influenced by Bach, Beethoven, Haydn and Britten, and feels most inspired when he hears music that takes him by surprise, leaving him dumbfounded and making him wonder, "Why didn’t I think of that!"
Greenhoe had applied to eight conservatories, sending in his compositions and passing rigorous interviews, and was accepted into all but one. He decided on Eastman Conservatory in Rochester, N.Y., where he has studied for the past two years, transferring this year to the Manhattan School of Music in order to study under a professor that he considers his mentor.
Greenhoe enthusiastically embraces the Young Artists Program, and has been coming to Yellow Barn for five years now.
"It is an amazing program," he said. "No other program integrates composers into the ensemble, to be completely involved."
He also added that Yellow Barn approaches music differently than other programs. All the new compositions by the participants are treated with equal respect and reverence, performed side by side with compositions enjoyed for generations. For him it is an added bonus that it is located in southern Vermont where, as he put it, is his favorite place to be, where it is comfortable and easy.
Each composer arrives at the campus with ideas in their head for their compositions that are to be written during their time at Yellow Barn. Greenhoe has finished one composition, two movements of a piano quintet, for two violins, viola, cello and a piano called "Barn Dances," totaling seven minutes of music. He is still working on his second composition which will be a string quartet.
He feels it is important to always stay involved in many types of music and when asked what his dream job would be -- "Anything that involves music, be it teaching, hopefully writing." His pragmatic replyshowed equal amounts of awareness that composers not always make a living solely on writing music, but enough wisdom to know that it is important to do what one loves.
The Yellow Barn’s Youth Artists’ first performance tonight takes a look at music composed and performed in the years leading up to World War I, alongside repertoire born in the era of the second world war, including works by Ravel, Messiaen, Korngold, Ives, Britten, and Bartók. In addition, they will perform six new works composed in the first 10 days of the program by YAP composers Zara Ali, Aiyana Tedi Braun, Ledah Finck, Eli Greenhoe, Noah Kahrs, and Chase Morrin. This premiere performance is is free, happening at Next Stage, Kimball Hill in Putney at 8 p.m. On Thursday you can catch their performance at 8 p.m. at Next Stage for a $10 fee and on Friday, June 27, they will be at the Big Barn on Main Street in Putney at 8 p.m., cost also $10 a ticket.
For more information visit www.yellowbarn.org or call 802-387-6637.
Cicely Eastman can be reached at ceastman@ reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 261.