The Juno Orchestra Project, based in Brattleboro, Vermont, was a multi-year musical exploration to engage top-flight area musicians and curious audiences. The Project created space and time for an expert chamber orchestra to explore and present compelling known and perhaps unknown works for small orchestra. The Project featured as soloists musicians who received their early training in this area, it commissioned or revealed newly composed work, and it added to the expressive and economic vibrancy of this region.
The Project sprang to life in the spring of 2017, under the direction of Zon Eastes and was made possible through the stunning generosity of two remarkable women.
A few words about beginnings
In the 1990s, an adult cello student, Elizabeth (Jo) Dorchester, determined she wanted to make the switch to a more modern cello. When Jo purchased her new cello, built by Marten Cornelissen, luthier in Northampton, MA, she presented music director Zon Eastes with her previous cello, a Peter Wamsley, built in England around 1740. Eastes used this wonderful cello for many years in early instrument ensembles. Ultimately Eastes sold the Wamsley to a Dutch cellist in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, advancing successfully through its next career, and that sale provided Juno with a firm financial grounding.
Just prior to her untimely death, Eastes’ sister-in-law, Sandy Spencer, gave him her primary cello, a modern instrument built by Ray Melanson in Rochester, MA. The sale of Sandy’s wonderful instrument added to the expansion of the Project’s mission.
What’s in a name?
Jo Dorchester’s inspiring generosity was instrumental in the vision for the Juno Orchestra. Though unassuming and gentle, Jo’s passion for learning – about the cello, yes, but all aspects of music – was heroic. The title Juno Orchestra honors Jo’s name (her name among friends), balances against the male-dominated heavens, recalls the nearly obsolete definition of ‘dear one’, and hearkens toward the explorations of NASA’s Juno expedition to Jupiter and beyond.
The dream of forging the opportunity for a professional chamber orchestra to work became a solid reality. The Juno Orchestra Project celebrated the Brattleboro area’s rich musical history as well as amazing assets and, for a time, explored captivating music. The generosity of two wonderful women opened the path ahead and Juno now celebrates their love of music and community as a full-fledged program of the Brattleboro Music Center.
Updated February 9, 2023