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State of the Arts

VOCAL POINT Mi mi mi mi . . . Soon that will be the sound of music at Elley-Long - voices warming up, that is. Yes, voices. Last week, the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association announced a brand-new program: the VYO Chorus, which will be open to Vermont students in grades 8-12. The goal is to accept every qualified student who auditions; practically speaking, the final chorus might number about 100, suggests VYO Marketing Director Lisamarie Charlesworth.

Music Director and choral project mastermind Troy Peters says he's excited about the opportunity to engage "a whole new group of students," who will have the chance to "explore major choral repertoire, work with renowned guest artists and make music at a very high level." A nationwide search for a choral director is currently under way.

At auditions next month, wannabe choristers will have to perform a song - a cappella - of their choice, match pitch with notes played on a piano, and sight-read a melody. The chosen ones will also have to sacrifice "Dancing With the Stars": Choral rehearsals will be held Monday nights September through April at VYO HQ, the Elley-Long Music Center in Colchester. The concert season will include public performances there and at Burlington's Flynn Center, says Charlesworth. Too bad the singers can't join the orchestral unit on its tour of China this summer.

Auditions for the VYO chorus will be held June 1-3 at Elley-Long. To make an appointment or request more info, visit or call 655-5030.


SPEAKING OF TALENTED TEENS When Xavier Donnelly began drawing buildings at about age 8, he never imagined it would become a capital offensive. The Burlington High School student, now 14, has just won the Congressional Art Contest - an annual competition that selects one young artist per congressional district. In Vermont's case, of course, that means one, period. Donnelly will attend a reception in Washington, D.C., next month with his proud parents, Richard and Kate Donnelly. His composition, a black-ink line drawing of a fictional cityscape, will hang in the U.S. Capitol for an entire year.

Well, it won't be the actual drawing - the original belongs to Harry Bliss. After the Burlington-based New Yorker and Seven Days cartoonist fell in love with a Donnelly work at a friend's house a couple of months back, his girlfriend bought him one for his birthday. This one. The Capitol Building gets a photocopy.

Bliss, who also illustrates children's books - including the upcoming Diary of a Fly - says he's "seen a lot of young people's art over the years." He still finds Donnelly's tightly composed and highly detailed creations remarkable. "I'd say he's a prodigy," Bliss enthuses. "The most remarkable thing for me is that he doesn't use a pencil! He's got some plan in his head where all this is going to go - the foreground, the buildings, the whole thing. It's extremely rare."

Donnelly may have inherited the creative chromosome from his artist mother, but he talks like a normal, self-deprecating kid. Winning the prize, he says, "makes me feel pretty good - especially because the photocopy we sent wasn't very good."


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