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Highlights: Students to Play Benefit Concert for the Haven

  • Hanover High School student Justin Zhou will perform Sunday afternoon with several other teenage musicians in a classical music concert to benefit the Upper Valley Haven. (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/3/2019 12:05:05 AM
Modified: 1/3/2019 12:05:14 AM

For the better part of a decade, you could count on Justin Zhou to play his cello at just about every contest for young classical musicians that he could find — and, often, to win it.

More recently, the Hanover teenager has been spending more of his spare time sharing the music of the likes of Bach and Saint-Saens with judge-free audiences, from retirees at the Woodlands and Kendal at Hanover to celebrants at graduation parties.

And this weekend at the Norwich Congregational Church, he and eight fellow musicians will play a concert benefiting the Upper Valley Haven. He’s been volunteering at the White River Junction homeless shelters for about a year.

“I noticed many people who are at difficult times in their lives … who are dealing with or struggling with something,” Zhou, a junior, wrote during an exchange of emails this week. “I was inspired to help using what I love doing — playing the cello.”

Among the Hanover-based musicians joining Zhou in Norwich on Sunday afternoon, Hanover High sophomore Miriam Viazmenski will play a Bach sonata and a movement of a Mendelssohn concerto, while cellists Jackson Lake (junior) and Miriam Herron (sophomore) will tackle two Bach minuets and a Brahms sonata and flutist Emily Bregou (senior) will perform a Rachmaninoff piece.

Also, pianists Alice Garner (sophomore), Joseph Goff (senior), Simon Herron (Hanover grad-turned-Juilliard student) and Joshua Wirogo (Richmond Middle School eighth-grader) will take turns with compositions by Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, Rachmaninoff and Ernesto Lecuona.

Zhou has built much of his competitive resume around his interpretations of the works of Saint-Saens. In 2014, as a Richmond School seventh-grader, he played the composer’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor to win a regional competition that propelled him to the Music Teachers National Association’s national finals. From there, he went on to play with the New England Conservatory Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, the New Hampshire All-State Orchestra and the New England Music Festival Orchestra.

Over the past year, he was chosen to play during the Next Generation concert at Chandler Music Hall last May and during the Curtis Institute of Music’s prestigious Summerfest. He and two Hanover High classmates recently won seats on the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for the 2018-2019 season, during which Zhou will perform at Boston’s Symphony Hall and at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre before joining the ensemble for a June tour to Brazil.

Zhou traces his evolution toward the cello to a moment about three years into playing his first instrument, the piano.

“I remember sitting in the car with the radio on,” he wrote. “One piece came up played by Yo Yo Ma and I instantly was attracted to the sound of the cello. I later discovered that the piece … was Elgar’s Cello Concerto. At that time, I decided to try the cello, and within the first couple of lessons, I was hooked.”

The Upper Valley Young Musicians hold a concert on Sunday afternoon at 2 at the Norwich Congregational Church to benefit the Upper Valley Haven. Admission is by donation.

Best Bets

Banjoist Ben Krakauer, guitarist Grant Gordy, cellist/fiddler Tristan Clarridge, fiddler/singer Lily Henley, cellist Duncan Wickel and singer Elise Leavy perform during the Vermont String Summit tonight at 7, in the Upper Gallery of the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph. After the performance, the musicians will host a jam session for aspiring string players. Admission is by donation.

■Stand-up artist Dan Boulger headlines tonight’s Comedy Club gathering at The Engine Room in downtown White River Junction. Doors open at 7 for the monthly showcase of rising comedians, with Claremont’s Chad Blodgett and New London comic Lois Dupuis kicking off the laughs at 8. Admission is $5 to $10.

■Pentangle Arts screens Bridges of Madison County, a rare cinematic case of the movie improving upon a best-selling novel thanks to director Clint Eastwood and co-star Meryl Streep, tonight at 7:30 at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre. Pentangle continues its “Thank You Thursday” series of classic films next Thursday night at 7:30, with a screening of the 1973 Oscar-winner The Sting. Admission to all Thursday films is by donation.

■Dartmouth College’s Paddock Music Library in Hanover hosts the first in a series of three weekly sing-ins on Friday evening at 5. The gatherings are open to vocalists of all ages and abilities with an interest in the history of music sung by American workers. Listeners are also welcome. The first sing-in, with a focus on migrant workers and pre-Civil War slaves, includes Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land and Pastures of Plenty, Leadbelly’s Pick a Bale of Cotton, Harry Belafonte’s Day-O/Star-O and James Carter and the Prisoners’ Po’ Lazarus. Admission is free.

Looking Ahead

The Bel Canto Chamber Singers hold auditions for their 2019 season on Wednesday night at 7 at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon. For more information and an audition time, visit

■The public libraries of Lebanon, Quechee, Hartford, West Hartford, Wilder, Lyme and Norwich will host a sing-a-long, featuring the showstoppers from the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton, on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Norwich Congregational Church. To register to sing with the lead cast onstage, and to reserve seats (admission is free), call the Quechee Library at 802-295-1232.

■Out on a Limb will perform a set of Americana music on Jan. 12 at 7 p.m., during North Common Arts’ monthly Coffeehouse Cabaret in Chelsea.

■The junk-rockers of Recycled Percussion will perform two shows at Lebanon Opera House on Jan 12, at 4 and 7:30 p.m. For tickets ($33.50) and more information, visit or call 603-448-0400.

■Pianist Simone Dinnerstein and the Pam Tanowitz Dance ensemble will collaborate on an interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on Jan. 11 and 12, at Dartmouth College’s Moore Theater. For tickets ($19 to $50) and more information, visit or call 603-646-2422.

■ Connecticut-based living-history artist Gwendolyn Quezaire-Presutti will portray abolitionist Harriet Tubman in her one-woman play, I Can’t Die But Once, on Jan. 13 at New London’s Whipple Hall. To reserve tickets ($7 to $17) for the 2 p.m. performance, visit

■ The Moving Spirit Dancers and the Bridgewater Community Chorus will perform a concert in honor of victims of school shootings on Jan. 13, at the North Universalist Chapel in Woodstock. In addition to the music and the dancing, choreographed by Peggy Brightman, there will be readings of poetry by Robert Frost, W.S. Merwin, Dylan Thomas and Pablo Neruda. Admission to the performance, which starts at 3, is by donation to GunSense Vermont and the North Chapel’s outreach programs for children and families.

■Donna Byrne will sing the next Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon concert at the Center at Eastman in Grantham, on Jan. 13 at 4. Admission is $18 to $20. To reserve tickets and to learn more about the Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon series of concerts, including the schedule of shows through spring, visit or call 603-763-8732.

Theater/Performance Art

The Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia stage adaptations of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other works of children’s author-illustrator Eric Carle at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph next Thursday morning at 10. For tickets ($7) and more information, visit or call 802-728-6464.


Pianist Annemieke McLane plays on the theme of “Schubert in Snow” on Friday night at 7, at the United Church of Strafford. Admission is by donation, 20 percent of which goes to the Manheim Fund for upkeep of the church steeple.

■Richmond Middle School music teacher Joshua Hall plays the fiddle in a variety of genres at the Hartland Public Library on Wednesday night at 6:30.


Sustainable Woodstock and Pentangle Arts co-host a screening of the documentary Lobster War: The Fight Over the World’s Richest Fishing Grounds, on Wednesday night at 6. Admission is by donation to Pentangle. To learn more, visit

Bar and Club Circuit

The Dinosaurs, aka roots musicians Gary Hubbard and Dan Freihofer, play the Peyton Place restaurant in Orford tonight from 6 to 9. Guitarist Ted Mortimer and accordionist Steve Pixley appear there next Thursday night at 6.

■Bassist Peter Concilio, keyboard player Bruce Sklar, saxophonist Michael Zsoldos and drummer Tim Gilmore play jazz at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night at 8.

■Blame It On the Dog pulls into Windsor Station on Friday night at 9:30 to play its mix of reggae, rock, funk, pop and jazz. The Cole Robbie Band rocks the house on Saturday night at 9:30 and Johnny O performs there on Tuesday night at 6.

■Sonny Saul plays jazz at the On the River Inn in Woodstock on Saturday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 9.

■Saxophonist Mike Parker and singer-guitarist Alison “AliT” Turner perform at 6 Tuesday evening at Crossroads in South Royalton.

Open Mics

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

■Joe Stallsmith leads his weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass on Monday night at 6 at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

■Fiddler Jakob Breitbach leads an acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music on Tuesday nights at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

■Tom Masterson hosts an open mic at Colatina Exit in Bradford, Vt., on Tuesday nights at 8.

■Woodstock musician Jim Yeager hosts an open mic on Wednesday night at 8 at Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

David Corriveau can be reached at and at 603-727-3304. Entertainment news also can be sent to

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