The water poured from every star, and at dawn the world was new. Alike cold snow, warm water buries too
The Vermont Symphony Orchestra has chosen to premiere Callum Robechek’s “Water Buries, Too,” a musical response to the catastrophic flooding his community has faced, at the next Farmers Night concert at the Statehouse in Montpelier on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. Lyrics and music are both written by the Montpelier High School senior.
Robechek wrote many poems in response to the flood. “I was away at the Governor’s Institute for the Arts for two weeks and returned to Montpelier to encounter water two minutes down the street from my house. It was so hard to see the impact on our businesses. I was filled with a sense of wonder seeing the town as I’d never seen it.”
He volunteered for the cleanup and began to distill his poems into lyrics for a composed piece. “It was a warm night, and I was thinking that usually cold is bad and warmth is good, and yet both snow and water can do great harm.”
“It was not an easy piece to write,” Robechek explained. “I wrote about 35 drafts and am satisfied with this version.Taking a college-level poetry class in high school helped me realize the power of words and the importance of concise expression to portray a lot of meaning.”
Since sixth grade, as a student of Hilary Goldblatt, he has worked on musical composition with Vermont’s MusicComp program, initially mentored by Vermont composer Eric Nielsen, whose piece “Resilience” was premiered by Counterpoint at the first Farmers Night concert on Jan. 17. For Robechek’s most recent work, he was mentored by composer Travis Ramsey, who teaches music in Norwich, Vermont.
Robechek’s journey as a composer has led him to many genres. “I respect and value classical composition but have also been learning from performing jazz and studying jazz theory, modes, and voice leading.” He also has turned to music production, such as looping, using found sounds, and song writing. Seeing the possibilities of sounds, he states “C Major doesn’t have to be just those three notes.”
Robechek also recommends “listening research,” citing the vocal ensemble Voces 8, young British singer/songwriter Jacob Collier, and the all-female vocal group Saje, featuring harmonically intense four-part a capella. (The group’s tour will take them to Higher Ground in Burlington on March 31)
Along with “Water Buries, Too” on the Feb. 14 Farmers Night program, the Vermont Symphony Chorus and the VSO chamber orchestra will perform works by Haydn, Bach, and others, conducted by Jose-Daniel Flores Caraballo and sponsored by the Robert de Cormier fund for choral music, and the David W. Wilson Memorial Fund. Robechek’s premiere is in partnership with the Music Composition Mentoring Program (music-comp.org).
All Farmers Night programs are free and open to the public in the House Chambers of the Vermont Statehouse Wednesday evenings through the end of the legislative session. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information go to legislature.vermont.gov/the-state-house/events/farmers-night-concert-series.