ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 5 * * All Arts News On the Web * * November 29, 2001


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      Stop in for the AAC CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and workshops. We come together on the second Wednesday for a booked musical performance and an art exhibit at Simple Pleasures in St Albans. On the fourth Wednesday come to the Kept Writer in St Albans for acoustic Open Mike Night featuring music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      "Making a living in any form of the arts in Vermont is noteworthy. It's miraculous," clarinetist Steve Klimowski said. "We've put it together, between our teaching and our performing."
      Although his first clarinet studies in the California school system were very much like any student's here, Mr. Klimowski eventually "ran away to New York to study with Leon Russianoff, one of the premiere teachers of clarinet in the Twentieth Century in America." He then won an audition and a job with the State of Mexico City Orchestra in Toluca, Mexico.
      "Three months after being there, a lonely young man in a foreign country," he said, "the most gorgeous cellist I had ever seen showed up. We spent hours and hours on the bus touring Mexico with the orchestra."
      Steven And Bonnie Klimowski married in Mexico and moved to Vermont in 1980. Mr. Klimowski became an adjunct artist and instructor in clarinet and saxophone at the University of Vermont. We talked to Ms. Klimowski last week. They have both played with the VSO although Mr. Klimowski currently is not. They are also members of a trio called, appropriately, the Klimowski Ensemble that will perform a Brahms Trio in Jeffersonville next Spring. "It's nice to play for my neighbors," he said.
      He has premiered several works for solo clarinet. He is a member of MusicAlive and Raising Cane, the woodwind trio of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and, in 1987, founded the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble.
      "There was no outlet for what we once called avant garde music," he said. "There's a lot of great stuff out there that I love playing, so I invited some other professional musicians to put something together." The VCME is a Vermont non profit with several commissions, one CD on sale, and a second soon to be released. "This our most exciting season and it has tripled our budget." Those commissions include the Trois Quartet by Charlotte composer Alex Abele that they commissioned and premiered in The Soldier's Tale in the FlynnSpace two weeks ago as well as Julius Williams' Vermont's Escape that they commissioned and premiered as a new organization in 1988.
      In 1987 and again in 1990 Mr. Klimowski won the Vermont Council on the Arts individual artist's fellowship and last month he completed the bass clarinet background recording for Trey Anastasio's new solo CD.
      "I love to play my music. I love to practice every day. People call me a workaholic but it's a privilege to do for a job what I love to do."
      He also takes private students. "I've got some extremely talented people, which is very gratifying, but I don't screen them for ability. The requisite is that they need to enjoy playing their instruments. If they want to play, they're in."
      When not practicing woodwinds, he practices plain wind by bicycle riding, on a "little 18 mile route. That's how I keep in shape. And it's good for your wind. I also love mountain climbing and hiking." There are a couple of 17-18,000 peaks in Mexico which he climbed regularly. "Back when I was young and stupid, I did a lot of rock climbing, but I found out that's really not very good for clarinet playing."
      The Klimowski live on "a little chunk of a farm in Fairfax" with two cats. One of 8 kids, he was born in New York and raised in California, "I wouldn't be anywhere else," he said. "I never was a city boy."


      Exit Stage Left Players present Peter Shaffer's Black Comedy tonight through Saturday, December 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Georgia Elementary School small gymnasium. Proceeds from the show will benefit the Franklin-Grand Isle County Emergency Food Shelf.
      "As a community theater company, we feel strongly about giving back to the community that supports us," said ESLP President Matt Peck of Georgia.
      Black Comedy tells the story of the foiled efforts of struggling sculptor Brindsley Miller to impress millionaire art collector and a potential patron Georg Bamberger.
      The spectacular set is Brindsley's London apartment on the ground floor of a large house. It is a cheerful room, with four doors, full of color and space and daring shapes, littered with mobiles, toys, and bric-a-brac. There is a second floor, a bedroom, staircases, and Brindsley's welded sculpture on stage.
      Brindsley actually owns only the cheap square drinks table, the cheap round table in the middle of the room, and his own sculpture.
      "It's taking a couple of hours and being somebody you're not," Mr. Peck said of the production. "I'm not Matt Peck for a couple of hours every night. That's a lot of fun.
      "I like to think of it as taking a pile of scripts and a bunch of warm bodies and painting or building or creating. We're creating lives out of the blue by taking the words in script to make the house the audience will see."
      Directed by Peter Murray of Richmond, the cast features Matt Peck as Brindsley Miller, Marie Brodeur of St. Albans as Carol Melkett, Carol Perry of St. Albans as Miss Furnival, Jeff Hartmann of Swanton as Colonel Melkett, Steve Irving of Georgia as Harold Goringe, Jen Stockwell of Jericho as Clea, Ron Haskell of Alburg as Schuppanzigh, and John Murray of Fairfax as Georg Bamberger. The Lighting Director is Dylan Palmer of Fairfax; Kristen Cameron of Swanton is the Stage Manager.
      Exit Stage Left is also recruiting more members. "Staging any play is difficult for a community theater," Mr. Peck said, "because we have 40 hours a week to put in first and this is something we do in our 'spare time.' It's a hobby like whittling or woodworking with about a dozen people in the same place at the same time three nights a week for eight or ten weeks."
      Tickets are $6, or $5 with the donation of a non-perishable food item. e-mail Peter for more info.


      The Kept Writer Bookshop and Cafe presents "The Sanctuary: A Night of Independent Film and Laughter Off of the Cold Streets of St Albans" tonight at 7 p.m. This showcase of short, local films will include documentaries, narratives, music videos, experimental arts, political propaganda, and animation.
      Jedd and Launie promised to bring the popcorn.


      Vermont composer Laura Koplewitz returns to Franklin County on Friday to begin her next commission. The St. Albans native will work with third graders in Mary Pelkey's class at Swanton Central School to create a piece of music to accompany one of this year's Red Clover books. This commission follows the popular premiere of her work Lake Spirit Journey during the Vermont Symphony Orchestra's Made in Vermont Tour in St Albans.
      The Red Clover book series is one of the Vermont Center for the Book's many programs for preschool children and programs for Vermont students, teachers and librarians. The award promotes reading and discussion of the best of contemporary picture books by more than 25,000 K-4 Vermont students. It includes America's Champion Swimmer; Atheneum, 2000; Big Jabe; Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type; The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story; Hog Music; The Hunter: A Chinese Folktale; If You Find a Rock; Mammalabilia; and Yoshi's Feast.
      The class has read all ten books in the series and will choose the book they feels best lends itself to musical interpretation. Ms. Koplewitz will work with the class in December and January. The world premiere will occur in April.
      AAC Director Melissa Ewell developed the project to combine quality children's literature with music. "Since our students already read the Red Clover, it made sense to use this years' books," she said. Funding for the project came through grants from the Vermont Council on the Humanities, the Swanton PTO, the Tabor Fund, and a FNWSU mini grant.
      Stay tuned for an announcement of the name of the book selected by the students.


ST ALBANS--The Kept Writer presents the jazz trio Turning Point, tomorrow evening at 7 p.m.

FAIRFAX--Regular Music Session with acoustic instrumentalists playing traditional songs at the Foothills Bakery on Saturday, 1-4:30 p.m. Admission is free by donation.


      The Vermont Center for the Book has professional development and family programs that use book-centered strategies and resources to promote learning.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2001 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
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