Art Notes: New Chandler director has Upper Valley roots

By ALEX HANSON

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-03-2023 5:22 PM

Over the last several years, Barnard native Chloe Powell has made a niche out of bringing the world to her small town.

She started the music series at Feast & Field, Barnard’s well-loved summer farmers market. She regularly brings in not only the cream of the area crop of musicians but performers such as the Argentine cumbia collective Cachitas Now!, and the South African singer-songwriter Nomfusi, both of whom are slated to play Feast & Field once the weather warms up.

But that freelance career, which also included working as an agent for international talent, is on hold as Powell takes on a new challenge. She has been named executive director of Randolph’s Chandler Center for the Arts.

She resisted the idea at first, she said in a phone interview. But, “the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was my dream job,” to bring artists into “the most beautiful venue in the state.”

One of her first acts, though, is more in keeping with her previous career. On Friday night at 7:30, Balaklava Blues, a Ukrainian band based in Toronto, performs in Woodstock’s Little Theater. The show mixes the global and the local, and also indicates that the Chandler will continue to look beyond its walls to program shows as part of its “Chandler at Large” presentations.

Friday’s night’s show, a partnership with Pentangle, BarnArts and ArtisTree, is a benefit for Razom, a nonprofit group that provides humanitarian relief to Ukrainians affected by the Russian invasion. In addition, the Woodstock-based Change the World Kids will host a Ukrainian dinner at 6 p.m. in North Chapel, just up the street.

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Mark and Marichka Marczyk, the couple who lead Balaklava Blues, met during Ukraine’s 2014 Revolution of Dignity. Their music mixes the traditional polyphonic sounds of their homeland with electronica to form a modern Eastern European blues.

The band’s appearance is paid for by a grant Powell had written before the pandemic. The funding makes it possible for the concert to be a successful fundraiser, she said, but the grant was for a performance in Woodstock. Chandler is handling the ticketing.

With any luck, Powell’s hiring will end a run of relatively short-term leadership at the Chandler, which has had several directors after the 2014 retirement of Becky McMeekin, who led the Chandler for 16 years and oversaw its growth into much busier and thoughtfully renovated venue.

When she was up for the job, “part of my pitch was I’m already here and plan to stay,” Powell said.

Not all of her life has been local. Powell spent two years at an international school in Rome, an experience that gave her a taste of the wider world.

“It was just my mom’s dream to live in Rome,” she said.

After living there for her freshman year, Powell returned as a boarding student after two years at Woodstock Union High School.

At the Chandler, Powell, 38, replaces Karen Dillon, who has served since just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and who will stay on half-time as the Chandler’s development director. Having Dillon there makes her job feel more reasonable, less likely to burn her out, Powell said.

The excitement of operating a venue, rather than spreading her efforts over a variety of roles, is that she can use the knowledge she’s built up about booking artists in the service of a venue with more pull.

To bring musicians to Feast & Field, Powell often had to catch them when they already had lined up an “anchor” date at a larger venue, one that could afford to pay them enough to travel. There are more possibilities to work with bigger acts.

“I’m in a better position as a presenter than I was as an agent” because she can partner with other venues to make things happen, she said.

She’s also talking with Randolph’s schools and recreation department to create programs for students, even as she learns the ins and outs of the job.

“There’s a lot that happens under the umbrella of the Chandler, so I’m still learning all the moving parts,” she said.

Balaklava Blues performs at 7:30 Friday night in Woodstock’s Little Theater. For tickets (pay what you can) and more information, go to chandler-arts.org or call 802-727-9878. For tickets to the 6 p.m. benefit dinner at North Chapel, email changetheworldkids@gmail.com. An artists talk will precede the dinner at 5:30.

The musical bard

Staying in the Woodstock area, ArtisTree Art Center opens a production of “The Twelfth Night Show,” a modernized, musical take on one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, on Thursday night. Megumi Nakamura and Jacob Brandt, the couple who wrote the adaptation, perform with two other actors, Allie Seibold and her husband, Seth Eliser, all of the play’s many roles. Brandt, a Brooklyn-based musician and composer, wrote the show’s original music.

The production continues through May 13. For more information, go to artistreetvt.org or call 802-457-3500.

A man of many talents

The Main Street Museum opens an exhibition of paintings by Ed Eastridge, who has played music with pretty much everyone who has ever plucked a string in the Upper Valley. A reception for Ed, with lots of music, is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The museum, at 58 Bridge St. in White River Junction, accepts donations, but events are free and open to the public.

Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com or 603-727-3207.

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