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Music and Community: Chamber Music Group Offers a Lebanon Discount

Not long ago, Closey Dickey and Carlos Galvan were having a conversation about an upcoming concert being put on by Camerata New England, the regional, nonprofit chamber music ensemble on which Galvan serves as chairman of the board of directors.

The show initially bore Camerata’s standard ticket price of $35, but Dickey, who has long supported the Lebanon arts scene with her late husband Whit, came up with an idea: What if the ticket price for Lebanon and West Lebanon residents was knocked down to $10, and she covered the difference from her own pocket?

“I picked myself up off the floor,” Galvan said, “and I said, ‘Yes, I figure that would be kind of cool.’ ”

And that’s what happened. The show, set to take place at 3 p.m. Sunday in Lebanon’s 400-capacity Sacred Heart Catholic Church, will come with tickets discounted for Lebanon attendees.

The show itself will be a tribute to Brahms, including his Sextet No. 1 Op. 18 in B-flat major and Piano Quintet Op. 34 in F minor, with special guest Erma Mellinger, a mezzo-soprano.

Dickey said she was proud that Lebanon has moved beyond the ex-mill town image that she and her husband encountered where they moved here 38 years ago. “I’m thrilled at the creative arts that have been attracted to Lebanon.”

The show comes at a time when Camerata’s no-longer-nascent Lebanon Strings Program has lined up a third class of Lebanon students to learn cello, with Linda Galvan in the teacher’s role.

Galvan, the ensemble’s principal cellist, has been teaching young students from throughout the Lebanon School District in an after-school program since January 2012, working with groups of four in the Mt. Lebanon Elementary School music room. Currently, she said, there are nine students in the program, with four more about to begin.

Considering the program is free save for instrument insurance and a music stand, it’s a rare chance for students to get a taste of playing the cello — the district offers only a band program.

“We wanted to give that opportunity to some of the kids,” said Galvan, adding that she hopes to open the program to violin students in the future.

Now, the cellists are the rock stars of the elementary schools, said Christine Greenough, the music teacher at Mt. Lebanon School. At the end of last year, they played a short set for the Lebanon School Board. During the after-school program, other students walk by the music room to steal a glance.

That doesn’t mean the learning process is easy, Galvan said. Unlike a piano, where any single note will sound fine, it takes a long time to produce a satisfying note on an instrument like the cello. Also, most students have to take on the bass clef for the first time.

“It’s not for all kids, because some kids just don’t have the focus, at that age especially,” Linda Galvan said. “They do have to have a certain level of persistence and sense of commitment.”

To make sure those in the program truly want to be there, Greenough makes sure kids and their parents complete an application, done in part to make sure the potential student will practice often.

One student, she said, has gone on to be a private student of Galvan’s. Another, Galvan said, used the cello lessons to unlock self-confidence.

“Part of their mission of education is building the instrumentalists, but also the audience of the future,” Greenough said.

Which is where Dickey, and her pledge to give Lebanon residents a large discount for Sunday’s show, comes back in. She and her husband were a major force behind the AVA Gallery’s move to Lebanon and the creation of White River Junction’s Northern Stage. They’ have been one of Camerata’s foremost sponsors since the beginning.

“They’re not just dabbling,” Carlos Galvan said. “They really believe in what we’re doing, and they like the fact that this is every bit as much about community impact and community building.”

Camerata New England will perform a show of Brahms’ music at 3 p.m. Sunday in Lebanon’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Tickets are $35 for general admission, $32 for seniors and $10 for Lebanon and West Lebanon residents. Children get in free. Tickets can be purchased from cameratanewengland.org.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242.