The COVID-19 pandemic cast a spell of sleep over many arts organizations, all around the world. Beginning March 2020, and continuing for nearly two years, musicians and organizations everywhere struggled with closure and silence, twirled thinking and planning, and invented entirely new ways to share the joy of creativity and music making. The Juno Orchestra Project was not immune. We cancelled about a year’s worth of projected programming, and reframed its final activities.
One of the Juno Orchestra Project’s structural tenets is to give opportunity for wonderful regional players to explore music in the presence of curious audiences. After a long respite, Juno tentatively lifted her head, ultimately creating a broad-reaching, four-faceted project called Juno Singles.
The Juno Singles project sprang from a simple idea: What if Juno commissioned a single work that might be made available to audiences via the internet. That single-commission germ rotated and resulted in four newly commissioned string pieces. As these four pieces were being developed, Serenity Smith Forchion of Nimble Arts contacted us and, zing!, the project doubled in scope as we envisioned four acrobatic responses to the four new commissions.
Here’s the project, step by step:
Part One: Juno engaged four local composers, commissioning each to craft a 10-15 minute work for string orchestra. We were lucky indeed to secure new compositions from (left to right) Derrik Jordan, world music specialist; Robert Merfeld, pianist and chamber music coach; Dana Maiben, violinist and Baroque music specialist, and Eugene Uman, director of Vermont Jazz Center.
Part Two: In May, June, and July 2021, Juno Orchestra workshopped each composition, one at a time. Documentary videos capture each limited-audience performance and include insights from each composer. Watch the videos:
- Suite for an Imaginary Country by Derrik Jordan
- Juno Variations by Robert Merfeld
- Vermont Seasons by Dana Maiben
- Struggle for Optimism by Eugene Uman
Part Three: We are very excited about the creative collaboration with Serenity Smith Forchion of Nimble Arts. Following each Juno workshop recording, individual artists or small teams from Nimble Arts created acrobatic responses to each composition. Videos present both the acrobatic artists over the Juno performance audio. Watch the videos:
- Response to Suite for an Imaginary Country, featuring artist Serenity Smith Forchion
- Response to Juno Variations, featuring artist Jan Damm
- Response to Vermont Seasons, featuring artists Ariele Ebacher, Brooke Locke, and Rachel Rees
- Response to Struggle for Optimism, featuring artist Serenity Smith Forchion
Part Four: Once we all can get back together, in real time, we will all celebrate– composers, orchestra, acrobats, AND AUDIENCE together! Given the pandemic’s ups and downs, we know well enough to wait to plan. So, more on this as details can emerge.
The Juno Singles Project acknowledges important financial contributions from anonymous (2), Diana Bingham, Jean Boardman, Douglas Cox, Joanne Roberts, Josie Stein, Janet Wallstein, and Mara Williams and Tom Hilsdon.
The Juno Singles Project thanks the four composers, without whose energy and willingness, this project could not have risen. Additionally, Juno thanks Serenity Smith Forchion and the folks at Nimble Arts for their artistry and enthusiasm for this project.
Juno Orchestra also thanks these project partners: Brattleboro Music Center; Bill Esses, recording engineer; Angus King, video engineer and producer; Austin Rice, video engineer and producer; Billy Straus, recording engineer.