Play Every Town

251 252 Community Concerts for a Cooler Climate


Concert Two: 5/15/22 at the Brownington Congregational Church

This first concert away from my home base of UVM was also the first on-the-road concert to be arranged. When I saw that the annual outing of the 251 Club was scheduled for the Old Stone House Museum the week after our launch concert, I took the museum’s amazing virtual tour and saw that it houses an astonishing number of vintage keyboard instruments, from toy pianos to spinets and pump organs...but not (according to Associate Director of Operations Bob Hunt) a piano in good working order.

However, Bob told me that the equally historic Brownington Congregational Church, just across the street, had a Steinway baby grand, and immediately volunteered to put me in touch with its music director, Mark Violette. Mark turned out to be more than a generous host and presenter. He offered the church choir as colloborators, and suggested I contact composer Sara Doncaster, music teacher at the nearby Lake Region Union High School to find a student participant as well. Sara, in addition to helping with publicity, asked Matthew Faust, a Brownington student, to perform, while Mark reached out to Darryl Kubian, a Brownington violinist also eager to play. It was enormously heartening to have so much enthusiasm and so much community support and participation for our very first away game, and a great augury for the project as a whole. (click images to embiggen)

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Welcome stone

Concert poster, bookended by handyman ad and majestic reflected white pine

The program

Alexander Twilight, who built the school that is now the Old Stone House Museum, preached at the...

...Brownington Congregational Church, host of Concert #2

Mark Violette, impresario for this concert, did the honors filling in the town of Brownington on our map

The enthusiastic audience of 40 was well fitted to the small church.

Scarlatti Sonata in G Major, K.2 (preceded by 2 ii-V-I’s)

Darryl Kubian joins me for the Meditation from Massenet’s Thaïs

The closer, “Stride Rite”, with a nice panning shot of the audience at the end

...about the piano

Steinway serial no. 277,782 is a 5'10" model L in American walnut, manufactured in 1934. Brownington Congregational music director Mark Violette relates that the piano was originally in the Samuel Read Hall House, an 1831 Federal-style building directly across the street from the church, where Samuel Read Hall served as pastor. Rev. Hall sounds like an interesting guy: home-schooled himself, he became a pioneering educator, establishing the first teacher-training school in the country. He is credited with the idea of putting a large slate at the front of the classroom—that is, he invented the blackboard. Among the “obstacles to instruction” he lists in his Lectures on School Keeping are the wealthy sending their kids to private schools, and poor remuneration for 1829, hmmm.
Eventually the piano was sold to a Mike in Lyndonville, 30 miles south. When the time came for him to move, Mike was looking to donate the piano, he asked his teacher if he knew of a worthy recipient. His teacher happened to be...Mark Violette, who completely disinterestedly suggested that the piano be given to the Brownington Congregational Church, thus returning it (almost) to its original home.

That’s me in front of the Samuel Read Hall House

This is one of the many quaint and curious vintage keyboard instruments in the Old Stone House Museum I did not perform on. You can check out their virtual tour to see more. I include this one because it was made by the Estey Organ Company of Brattleboro Vermont, which was once one of the largest organ companies, employing 700 workers at its peak.

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last updated March 01, 2023