Family Room

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is bringing VSO Jukebox, celebrating women’s music for the whole family, to Rutland’s Merchants Hall Saturday. Pictured is VSO violinist Brooke Quiggins.

Everyone has a story. You never know how someone’s story will affect you, or how someone else will be affected by yours. For many years, women’s stories were often not told. But an attempt to change that began in 1987 when March was designated Women’s History Month. Throughout March many events are highlighting women’s stories and contributions to society, including the two below — a different kind of classical music performance, and an art exhibit cultivated around controversial Barbie.

Jukebox lottery

“It’s different from what you expect,” Matt LaRocca says. Like a jukebox, “you sort of never know what you’re going to hear.”

LaRocca is a composer and Vermont Symphony Orchestra Creative Projects chairman. He’s presenting VSO Jukebox, a traveling string quartet who, in this show, will play a mix of works by female composers, old and new.

“What I mean by that is, when you walk into a jukebox show, it doesn’t feel like you’re walking into a concert hall — it’s a more relaxed atmosphere,” he said. “And it’s a huge mix of styles of music.”

LaRocca and Matthew Evan Taylor, professor of music at Middlebury College, curated a program focused on female composers. “We picked pieces that span the past 200 years, some early 1800s and some composed in the past two or three years,” LaRocca said.

Historical composers like Fanny Mendelssohn and Florence Price are mixed in with modern composers, including Mary Ellen Childs and Jessie Montgomery. The hourlong show, which starts at 6:30 p.m., means you’ll be home by bedtime, and LaRocca says it’s a great event for families.

“It’s good for any age bracket, which is one of the things I love about it the most,” he said. “We see people my parents’ age, people my age, and people my kids’ age.”

The sliding-scale fee means you can also see the one-of-a-kind show of professional musicians for five bucks. “It’s really important to us to make sure we can make this for everybody,” La Rocca said.

VSO Jukebox is at Merchants Hall, located at 40-42 Merchants Row in Rutland, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 9. This event is BYOB. For tickets and more information, please call 802-855-8081or go online to

Barbie redefined

Barbie dolls seemed innocent when I was a kid. Barbie was spoiled, for sure, with her Corvette and her dream house, but later on she came to represent something much different — a standard of beauty by design rather than acceptance.

But Barbie actually existed long before Mattel’s version came along.

“Barbie is as much about the goddesses of ancient Europe as she is about Western culture’s feminine iconology today,” artist Sandy Mayo said.

Mayo saw Women’s History Month as an opportunity to put together a women’s art exhibit, and with the help of three other artists and many supporters, “Barbie, Brains & Pink Hats” was born. It opens Friday, March 8, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., at the

B & G Gallery on Merchants Row in Rutland.

Mayo told me, “Woman, once symbolized by the Venus of Willendorf, and demonized in the 1400s as a witch, (has) come through many evolutionary periods. In today’s world more women have been elected to Congress than any period in history.” But women producing art today are still fighting for recognition. “They are still the lesser sex represented in museums and galleries.”

Fourteen local female artists are featured in the exhibit, including Rutland art-scene regulars Fran Bull, Joan Curtis, Christine Holzshuh, and Mareva Millarc. Mayo’s pieces in the show include two works evocatively titled “Little Pink Dress” and “Silk Stockings.”

“Everybody has their own perception of what it’s like to be a woman artist,” Mayo said. “Each artist is different and that’s what makes it so much fun.

“There’s one woman whose grandmother was actually a suffragette,” she added. “Everybody’s got a story.”

“Barbie, Brains and Pink Hats” opens 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the B & G Gallery on Merchants Row next to the Boys & Girls Club. Hours are: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

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