In 2000 I collaborated with revered Vermont poet and playwright David Budbill on my first opera, A Fleeting Animal. Our successful relaunch of that work in 2015 drove home the point that writing opera is very important to me.
Several projects got in the way of realizing my dream of creating a second opera until I encountered artist and author Dana Walrath’s graphic memoir, Aliceheimer’s. It is a poignant and beautifully illustrated account of Dana’s experiences with her mother, Alice and her dementia during the years that Alice lived with Dana and her family. The story had everything I was looking for: a powerful and complex central female character; social relevance; and a good balance of humor, drama and pathos. And I have found that working with Dana has been wonderful. Even though our opera is Dana’s first libretto, her skills as a writer have enabled her to give me what I needed. Not only has she proven herself to be flexible and accommodating but as an anthropologist by training and a keen observer of human behavior, she has captured the wide range of emotional depths that lend themselves to musical expression.
We are excited to reveal some of Aliceheimer’s in public. On November 6 and 7, 2021 two preview showcase performances of the opera will take place at Bethany Church in Montpelier and Town Hall Theater in Middlebury.
The performances will feature soprano Mary Bonhag as Alice, accompanied by pianist Alison Cerutti. Aliceheimer’s, as I mentioned earlier, tells the story of Dana’s mother Alice, and her dementia journey, from her perspective. As Alice lives her experiences in front of our eyes, we gain insight not just into her condition, but into Alice as a person. Whether remembering her childhood, loving food, struggling with memory loss, living with her daughter or in a care home, Alice shows us love, humor, regret, wonder, confusion, sorrow, anger and so much more, all brought to life through the power of storytelling and music.
The Montpelier performance will take place at 7 p.m. on Saturday November 6 at Bethany Church on Main Street. The Middlebury performance will occur at 7 p.m. on Sunday November 7 at the Town Hall Theater. Both performances are free of charge. Donations are encouraged and will help fund a full production of the opera. We are very grateful to the Monteverdi Music School for agreeing to act as our fiscal sponsor. Because of this relationship, any donations to fund our production will also help the school. To donate through Monteverdi, go to the donate page on this website.
Well, here we are! After a whole year of isolation and quiet in the woods of Vermont, we begin to come out of our cocoons.
When I think back to the beginning of my life, I think, what a “long and winding road”. But I have travelled it with pretty much a single mindedness: music and teaching.
From a very young age, music has been part of who I am. In my home, the living room was where I freely danced (in my underwear) to Tchaikovsky and Mozart. I would also often sing myself to sleep in my bed at night by going the my entire repertoire of songs from school and songs my mother had taught me. Later I learned to play recorder, clarinet and eventually the oboe. My life was filled with music.
In college, I became interested in working with small children and worked in the campus preschool. From this experience and from working with a wonderful teacher, I began the journey to become a music teacher.
From there it all evolved into teaching in the Vermont public schools. I taught both “general” music as well as instrumental music for 20 years. Along the way, I have been teaching private lessons on oboe, clarinet and recorder, 50+ years by now, and
absolutely LOVE teaching all ages!
With my own music, I have played in several orchestras and freelance groups as well as with my friends, and I still do!
A good friend, who was the first director of what is now Monteverdi (a long story for another time) suggested, and prodded me, I might add, to take on the teaching of music to preschoolers. So…I did! And this is how it all began, I started by teaching a program created by a woman from out of town, then teaching a program co-created with a friend, and eventually finding Kindermusik and becoming certified in it in 2000.
After much research, I found that Kindermusik is the most comprehensive program anywhere. Kindermusik is an International program of child development taught through music. As we travel through the world of music in our classes, the children take part in singing, playing instruments, moving, dancing, listening and discussing what we hear, reading books and experiencing them with sound and movement. Through this musical approach, all parts of the brain are exercised. The younger children are given a quiet time in class for reflection and snuggles with their caregivers as we listen to gentle music. We usually end the class with a circle dance! The activities in which we engage are purposeful and often explained to the grown-ups as we go along.
Kindermusik strives to encourage children to be creative, resourceful, empathetic and confident. As a result, we have noticed children becoming more capable and more ready to take on the world! Studies have been done that indicate that children who experience Kindermusik are more apt to excel in their studies in school. Kindermusik has Levels that are age appropriate as well as classes that are multi-age. I am offering Level 2, 3 and 4 this fall. Siblings are invited to be part of Level 2 and 3. For more information, email me!
Come join the fun, whether it be private lessons or Kindermusik! Email Sandra Cathey. Wrenwould@gmail.com
Private instrumental lessons can start now or anytime!!
Kindermusik classes start September 14!
An online class is offered as well as in-person options!
Health guidelines will be followed: air purifiers for the room, hands and instrument cleaning as well as mask requirements for those who can wear them or are not vaccinated.
Facebook: Kindermusik with Sandra Cathey
Facebook: (for instrument lessons) facebook.com/scathey77
Monteverdi Music School has been a center for music lessons and music activity in Central Vermont for 26 years, and now establishing its outreach to the online community!