Montpelier’s Monteverdi Music School is that little arts wonder that you may not have heard of. But if you or your kids have any interest in music — almost any kind — you should have.
For 25 years now, the nonprofit music school — something of a music teachers’ collective — has been offering music lessons for all ages and abilities in a variety of styles (though mainly classical), ensemble work and performance opportunities. Amazingly, there is instruction for absolute beginners, while some of the faculty members are among the finest professional musicians in Vermont.
On Sunday, Monteverdi will present “Music for an April Afternoon,” a 35th anniversary fundraising concert featuring its faculty and the Counterpoint Chorus, at 3 p.m. at Montpelier’s Unitarian Church.
“This concert is key to helping fund our annual fund as well as our scholarship program,” Karen Songhurst, Monteverdi board president, said in a press release. “We strive to make music education accessible to everyone in the community. We hope the local community will turn out to support their local community music nonprofit’s 25 years and celebrate the immense talent in our area.”
I hate to admit it, but I was around for the beginning of Monteverdi. For a while, Vermont College (of Norwich University, not Vermont College of the Fine Arts) provided a home in a small building on its campus. With the herculean efforts, it struggled — and survived — becoming an essential part of its community.
It took a while, but Monteverdi Music School has a real home in the Center for Arts and Learning at 46 Barre St. The multiple organization arts center, a renovation of the former St. Michael’s Elementary School complex — I actually attended K-2 there — also houses the T.W. Wood Gallery & Arts Center and the Summit School of Traditional Music and Culture, among others.
Monteverdi occupies the entire former convent of St. Michael’s School, a much older attached building that faces Barre Street. The nuns’ rooms, compact individual spaces, serve nicely as music studios. The larger common rooms provide comfortable space for ensembles, jazz bands and choruses to practice.
Sunday’s concert will highlight not only Monteverdi’s talented faculty but will also feature Counterpoint, Vermont’s professional vocal ensemble, which calls Monteverdi its home for rehearsals.
Pianist Eliza Thomas will play a Schubert piano Impromptu and Doug Perkins will offer a Bach sonata on guitar. Guitarist Daniel Gaviria will be heard in “La Catedral” by Agustin Barrios Mangore. Mezzo-soprano Lindsey Warren, clarinetist Joni McCraw and pianist Luke Rackers will perform a selection from Vermont composer — and Monteverdi faculty member — Erik Nielsen’s “Until Time Itself …”
In addition to the teaching faculty, Counterpoint, directed by Nathaniel Lew, will present selections from its “Six Degrees” program, which is an educational project and musical panorama about the threat of climate change locally and worldwide.
Sunday’s faculty concert ends with a special reception in honor of the organization’s 25th anniversary and to honor McCraw, who is retiring from teaching after 30 years at Monteverdi.
And Monteverdi moves forward. Violinist and instructor Chris Stork is spearheading an occasional Friday series with faculty members and amazing guests (including his friends from McGill). Check it out.