ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 10 * * All Arts News On the Web * * December 7, 2006


      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 live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., at ChowBella or at the Overtime Saloon in St Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      Choral singing is significantly different from coral reefs.
      Bellows Free Academy and the All Arts Council of Franklin County present two performances of Handelís Messiah on Sunday in St. Albans. Performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. have been scheduled in response to the standing-room-only crowd in attendance at the 2002 concert. Both performances will be held in the St. Maryís Catholic Church sanctuary.
      The concerts will feature the 130 member BFA chorus, the St. Albans Area Community Chorus, and a twenty-three piece baroque orchestra, produced and directed by Armand Messier. Maria Izzo Walker, Soprano, Evelyn Kwanza, Alto, Daniel Marcy, Tenor, and Larry Rudiger, Bass, are the featured vocal soloists at both performances. "This is going to be bigger and better than 2002." Mr. Messier said. "The chorus is doubled in size"
      The music tells the whole story from birth to death of the Lord. This concert will consist of seven choruses, fifteen vocal solos, and two symphonic overtures.
      "We will be doing all of Part One [the Christmas portion] and the Hallelujah Chorus for the concert," Mr. Messier said. "Performing 'Messiah' in a large church setting gives this work a magnificent feeling," St. Mary's Church in St. Albans provides a beautiful setting and wonderful acoustics. Director and producer Armand Messier is a St. Michaels graduate and the choral director at BFA-St. Albans.
      Messiah is extremely popular in the United States and Britain and is the most widely performed oratorio in the world. It is commonly performed with large choruses and orchestra. The combination of students, community members, and professional musicians offers the Franklin County audiences another of the finest concerts ever.
      Baroque period German composer George Frideric Handel is best known for his English oratorios, particularly the Messiah. An oratorio is very much like an opera with a sacred text set to voice.
      Between 1718 and 1751, Handel composed 17 oratorios in England in the romantic Italian style with English words and a strong emphasis on the English chorus. Written in 1741, the Messiah follows his Old Testament stories of Belshazzar, Solomon, Theodora, and Jephtha. These three-act dramatic works are performed in concert, without the staging or action of an opera. The Messiah is less dramatic and more meditative than his operas and other oratorios.
      Messiah was written in 23 days and was first performed about in a large church setting in the early 1780s and the mania has continued through the years. A London concert in 1791 used over 1,000 performers; it is now performed by (usually smaller) choral societies in most American towns. During a later performance at Westminster Abbey, two choruses were used to create a stereo effect. In the past 150 years it has often been adapted and used regularly in Christian services, especially during the Christmas and Easter seasons. Although the subject of Messiah is of a religious nature, it is not considered a religious work because it was not written specifically for the church.
      "Students have been working since late August to be ready to perform this incredibly difficult musical work," Mr. Messier said. Comcast Channel 15 will air some of the rehearsal on Neighbor to Neighbor tonight.
      Admission for advance purchase still gets a two-dollar discount with tickets at $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for students. Tickets at the door will cost $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $6 for students. Tickets are available at the All Arts ticket centers: Enosburg Pharmacy, Swanton Rexall, and Better Planet in St. Albans. Call 802.527.6538 or click here for more info.
      Messiah is underwritten by Mylan Technologies and The Abbey Group.


     Gifts of art keep on giving throughout our lives.
      Jim Branca's current release, Jim Branca Live received a glowing review in Blues Revue Magazine. They called it an uplifting, fun, spiritual, and invigorating show. Mr. Branca said Live makes the perfect stocking stuffer. It is available at various stores around Vermont as well as on line at or
      Counterpoint's new CD, Let Me Fly, is an album of spirituals that features Chicago-born soprano Jonita Lattimore and soprano Claire Hungerford of St. Albans. The new album is on sale at As The Crow Flies, Better Planet, the Dressing Room, and online at Counterpoint recordings also include When the Rabbi Danced," "Misa Criolla," "Shir La Shalom (Sing for Peace), and A Counterpoint Christmas.
      Next week's column will include a lot more info about Let Me Fly.
      Lyle Glidden of Franklin is about the best "sound guy" in Franklin County. He is selling his entire sound reinforcement system including a 12-channel Carvin powered mixer, speaker cabinets, power amps, and much more. Call Mr. Glidden (802.285.2015) or Email for more info.
      Habitat for Humanity and Open Doors are selling raffle tickets for a queen sized quilt made by Bonnie Evans of Swanton. The drawing will be held on Dec 17, just in time for the holidays.
      The fall-themed quilt has maple leaf motifs is filled with extra heavy cotton batting. Tickets are $2 each or $10/book of seven and are being sold by volunteers of the organizations as well as at the Citizens Bank on South Main Street and all five Peopleís Trust locations.
      Ann Levy's perennial favorite, Acts of Living: A Cooking Journal for the Culinarily Challenged, is an invitation to begin the adventure of cooking. She offers a holiday special of two autographed copies for $40 (including tax and shipping and handling) via
      Leon Thompson has written dork--another look at my junk, the companion piece or even sequel to his first book, "Good Junk." The collection of his ten years of mostly humor(ous) columns from the St. Albans Messenger is "a perfect read while you're fuming over flight delays at the airport to visit relatives for Christmas," he said.
      Next week's column will include a lot more info about dork.
      Ally M. & Ally G., written by Lauren Young of Enosburg and illustrated by Sandra Rooney of Franklin, is the tale of two girls on a picnic of fun and adventure for ages 5 to 8. It is available at Borders Book Store in Burlington and Better Planet or or
      The Vermont Youth Orchestra offers the gift of music this holiday season with tickets to upcoming VYO concert at the Flynn. The tickets are available at or through the Flynn Center Box Office at 802.86.Flynn. Call LisaMarie Charlesworth (802.655.5030) for VYO info to go with your gift. "I'll create a simple gift package that would make St. Nick happy!" she said.
      The All Arts Council has a host of additional gift ideas by area artists here here. The site also includes Corliss Blakely, Janet Bonneau, John Cassel, Kris Jarrett, Jesse Potts, Will Patton, Nobby Reed, Valerie Ugro, and me.


     Plaidswede Publishing and Better Planet will host a pre-release, holiday sale and book signing of Leon Thompson's new book, dork, on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. dork. is the companion piece and sequel to Good Junk. Mr. Thompson will sign copies of Good Junk on Saturday, too. Both books are collections of his (mostly) humor columns from the St. Albans Messenger.
      The aptly titled dork will not be released until after the holidays. "It may be your only time to get dork. between now and mid-January!" he said.


     Vermont writer Suzi Wizowaty of Burlington writes novels for adults and children. Her adult book, The Round Barn was a BookSense 76 pick. A Tour of Evil, her novel for children ages 9-12, was released last year. Her site includes samples of recent books and scheduling info.


      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 © 2006 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).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.