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Sage City Symphony to Celebrate 50th Anniversary with May 21 Concert & Reception

May 21, 2023 @ 4:00pm-5:30pm


Bennington, VT — On Sunday, May 21, at 4:00 p.m. Sage City Symphony will celebrate its milestone 50th anniversary with a concert at Greenwall Auditorium in the VAPA Building at Bennington College. Admission is free and open to all.

The concert program will feature “Variations on a Theme by Haydn,” Op. 56a, by Johannes Brahms; “2020: Insidiodyssey,” by Joan Devoe; “The Swan of Tuonela,” by Jean Sibelius; and “Symphony No. 3 in One Movement,” by Sage City Symphony cofounder Louis Calabro.

With support from the Bennington College President’s Office, the concert will be followed by a reception with hot and cold hors d’oeuvres by Henry’s Market, a custom cake by Fancy Pants Cakes, and a cash bar. A special commemorative 18″ x 24″ 50th anniversary poster will be available for $20 per poster, with an option to have it autographed by Music Director Michael Finckel, whose 30th anniversary as conductor of Sage City Symphony is also being celebrated in 2023. Poster quantities are limited; advance orders may be placed at www.SageCitySymphony.org.

Covid Protocols: All current and evolving guidelines issued by the CDC, the State of Vermont, and Bennington College will be followed. Face masks and social distancing may be required (“pod” seating permitted), and proof of vaccination and ID may be requested at the door. In the event of a resurgence of Covid infection rates, postponement or cancellation of this concert will be posted on the symphony’s website at www.SageCitySymphony.org.

About Joan Devoe and “2020: Insidiodyssey”

Joan Devoe is a former speech-language pathologist who has played violin and, lately, cello in Sage City Symphony with her husband, oboist Lyndon Moors, for more than 20 years. Upon her retirement, she turned her passion for music and lifelong learning into full-time music education, completing several music theory courses at Berkshire Community College and the State University of New York at Albany. At the Berkshire Music School (BMS), she studies music composition with Alice Spatz, composing pieces for the orchestra and various other ensembles in which she participates; she also receives instruction in flute from Tari Wheeler Roosa, cello from Annabelle Hoffman, and harp from Teresa Mango. Devoe has enjoyed playing in the symphony, as well as with other local ensembles, including the Eagles Band, the BMS Orchestra, the Stockbridge Sinfonia, and ukulele groups. In September 2022, she received the BMS Tracy Wilson Scholarship.

“2020: Insidiodyssey” is a three-movement composition that takes the listener through the insane and insidious experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. The first movement, “Chaotic Mindlessness,” begins in pre-Covid days as society moves at an unconscious fast pace only to face an abrupt interruption of fear and confusion. The second movement, “Amorphous Challenges,” begins with a hint of the “Twilight Zone” theme and morphs into feelings of despair, anxiety, grief, and isolation. The last movement, “Reverent Gratitude,” is both a solemn memorial to those lost during the pandemic and a heartfelt tribute of gratitude to our courageous health care workers. In this movement, one will recognize excerpts from the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee” woven throughout, with a nod to “Auld Lang Syne” at the end.

About Michael Finckel

Having served as principal cellist during Sage City Symphony’s early years in the 1970s, and later as a commissioned composer and cello soloist, music director Michael Finckel continues the unique traditions and musical standards of the orchestra’s cofounder, Louis Calabro. 2023 marks Finckel’s 30th year as music director of the orchestra.

A native of Bennington, Vermont, Finckel’s formative studies were with his parents, both prominent musicians well known throughout the state. He later attended Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and Bennington College, where he studied composition, conducting, and orchestration with Louis Calabro and Henry Brant. He has taught cello and composition at Bennington and Marymount Colleges, and at Princeton and Cornell Universities. As a member of the faculty of the Vermont Governor’s Institute on the Arts, he taught gifted junior and senior high school students from around the state. Currently living in New York City, Finckel is engaged in an active multiple career as soloist, chamber musician, composer, teacher, and conductor. As a cellist he has performed with orchestral and chamber ensembles in venues from coast to coast and across Europe. He performs and coaches each summer at the Composers Conference and Chamber Music Center in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and the Chamber Music Conference and Composers Forum of the East at Bennington College.

About Sage City Symphony

Sage City Symphony’s 2022–23 season heralds two important anniversaries: the 30th anniversary with music director Michael Finckel, and the 50th anniversary of the symphony’s first performance under Lou Calabro.

Cofounded in 1972 by composer Louis Calabro and Christine Graham as a community and college orchestra with close ties to Bennington College, Sage City symphony gave its first concert in 1973. At the time, it was one of only a handful of orchestras in the country to commission and premiere new works. Today the symphony performs the traditional classical repertoire as well as contemporary music, commissioning and premiering new pieces each season, with the mission of presenting programs that are beyond the usual ambition of community orchestras and that offer a challenging playing opportunity to local musicians. The symphony attracts a high caliber of dedicated amateur and professional players who travel from throughout Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts for weekly rehearsals during the concert season. Auditions are not required, and academic credit is available for Bennington College students who participate. Information about joining the symphony, as well as Covid protocols observed at rehearsals and concerts, is available at www.SageCitySymphony.org.

Sage City Symphony is a registered federal non-profit organization in the State of Vermont that relies entirely on generous donations, gifts in kind, grants, and volunteer services from individuals, local foundations, businesses, and sponsors. Donations are gratefully received by mail at Sage City Symphony, PO Box 547, Shaftsbury, VT 05262 or online via www.SageCitySymphony.org. Concerts are always free and open to all.


May 21, 2023
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Sage City Symphony
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Greenwall Auditorium
Bennington College
Bennington, VT 05201
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