Vermont Symphony Orchestra Debuts a New Collaboration: Beer | Bite Club

Vermont Symphony Orchestra Debuts a New Collaboration: Beer

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Jukebox starts its third season September 1 at ArtsRiot - COURTESY OF ELLEN VOORHEIS
  • Courtesy of Ellen Voorheis
  • Jukebox starts its third season September 1 at ArtsRiot
Not long ago, it was considered impolite to let out a cough during a classical music concert. Now audience members can clink their glasses and cheer.

That is, if they’re listening to a Vermont Symphony Orchestra string quartet perform at ArtsRiot in Burlington, site of a musical series called Jukebox. The collaboration of the symphony and the bar kicks off its third season this Saturday night, September 1, at the Pine Street club.

To celebrate that event and to enhance the “creative collaboration” that is the heart of Jukebox, the VSO teamed up with Foam Brewers in Burlington to create a beer for the concert series. The brew, called Jukebox, makes its debut on draft Saturday night at the concert.



“In music, we have world premieres. We’ll commission a piece of music and have a composer debut it,” VSO executive director Ben Cadwallader told Seven Days. “Now we will have the world premiere of this IPA from Foam. No one has tasted it publicly before, and we get to taste it for the first time Saturday. This was a creative collaboration.”

The beer is a fruit-forward IPA with citrus and tropical flavors, according to the VSO. After its Saturday-night release, Jukebox will be available for a limited time at ArtsRiot and Foam.

A work of visual art (pictured above) also was created as part of this season’s series: a print by artist Ellen Voorheis. The VSO is giving away a limited number of  her Jukebox prints to those who purchase tickets to the full series.

The beer and art are part of the VSO’s effort to “challenge the traditional narrative” that classical music is “boring and staid and for rich, white people who are old,” Cadwallader said.

“We are making music for everyone, and Jukebox is [at] the front side of that challenge,” he continued. “How can we proactively engage an entirely new category of music lovers without alienating our existing audience base?”

The Jukebox experience, he said, “is as much for the 75-year-old subscriber as it is for the 35-year-old new dad who has a squirming kid in one hand and a Heady Topper in the other.”

For concertgoers this Saturday, the beer in hand could be Jukebox instead. And attendees might want to raise a glass to composer George Walker, whose work will be performed by the VSO musicians.

Walker, a pianist and composer, was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in music. He died on August 23 at the age of 96. The quartet will perform the second movement of Walker’s String Quartet No. 1.

“It’s a beautiful piece of music,” Cadwallader said. “It’s one of those pieces you close your eyes and kind of bliss out to.”

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