The Human Condition

The Windham Orchestra presents “Human Condition,” Sunday, May 19, at 3 p.m. at the Latchis Theatre, Main Street, Brattleboro.
The program includes Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs, with soprano Jenna Rae, and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 8.
The Windham Orchestra, founded in 1969, features local musicians and composers. The 2018-2019 season marks its 49th year of making music together in Brattleboro. The Orchestra takes pride in its history of providing symphonic music to Southeastern Vermont and its commitment to keeping classical music vital and building future audiences.


We have a very busy fall of 2018! For your calendars:

September 22, 2018

By special invitation, we play the Latchis Theatre 80th Anniversary!

            Aaron Copland's Music for the Theatre

               Jazzy, Vaudevillean fun for a whip-crack ensemble.

October 2018 is Turandot!

Latchis Theatre

         Friday, October 12 at 7pm BUY TICKETS

         Sunday, October 14 at 2pm BUY TICKETS


Academy of Music, Northampton

         Thursday, October 18 at 7pm BUY TICKETS


In Puccini's last opera there are riddles to answer, death and torture to avoid, hearts to thaw, barriers of status, race and gender to transcend, so that Love may triumph against all odds.

Community participation meets world-class soloists and artistry; orchestra and chorus fill the stage.

The “Princess of Ice and Death”
-----Jenna Rae

The slave girl, helpless until she can bear no more
-----Roseanne Ackerley

The Unknown Prince, willing to risk it all
-----Alan Schneider

The deposed King, blind and lost in a foreign land
-----Cailin Marcel Manson

The Son of the Heavens
Emperor Altoum
-----Tom Gregg

Risks it all, and executed in his prime
The Prince of Persia
-----Charlie Berrios


our Tao-based commentators...who knows what these guys are really about?
Ping & Pang & Pong-----Elizabeth Wohl & James Anderson & Michael Duffin


our community-based SWAT-team Chorus, who howl at the moon and tug our heartstrings in a different direction at each moment


our community-based Rabble Chorus, committed by turns to bloodlust, basic human decency, and reverence.

...tremendous respect, humor and expert artistic exploration that is notable and well beyond the bounds of what we think of when we say local. Yes, the Windham Orchestra and its conductor are ours, work, live and perform here in our midst, but I have discovered that what our orchestra is doing in practice and performance is of a standard that shines out into the world. Please know that something very good, something excellent, is happening in our midst. While there are many seemingly insurmountable difficulties we face in our community and the world, there is a refined and insistent artistic force that the Windham Orchestra works passionately to pass on, so the rest of us experience honest emotional and intellectual depth.
— An admirer new to our circle

Windham Orchestra performs Turandot, opera by Puccini

Come see and hear opera with the Windham Orchestra. Music tells a story, as do words. The combination of both is absolutely stunning! Please join us for our upcoming concerts!


Opera by Puccini

Friday, October 12 at 7:30 pm
Latchis Theater, Brattleboro, VT

Sunday, October 14 at 3:00 pm
Latchis Theater, Brattleboro, VT

Thursday, October 18 at 7:30 pm
Academy of Music, Northampton, MA



Now Accepting Applications for the Windham Orchestra's 2018 Concerto Competition


Apply Today!

Deadline: April 9th

Each year, the Windham Orchestra, an ensemble housed within the Brattleboro Music Center, hosts a concerto competition for high school age musicians, and 2018 marks the 32nd year of this event. The competition is an opportunity for students of all instruments, including voice, to audition for a panel of judges, receive feedback on performance, and then present the work with the Windham Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Hugh Keelan.

In recent years, the Windham Orchestra has performed with local world music ensembles, and Maestro Keelan wishes to continue such explorations. Originally conceived as a competition for musicians of the Western art music tradition, any composition normally accompanied by orchestra may be performed. Contestants may prepare and perform single movements or an entire multi-movement composition. 

In addition to the winner’s appearance at a Windham Orchestra concert, an open rehearsal performance opportunity is offered to all contestants. This opportunity to play their piece in public at the Brattleboro River Garden can be of great value to the student who has worked diligently preparing for the competition.

The competition is open to serious instrumental and vocal music students in grades 9 through 12 who live or attend schools in the following counties:

VT: Windsor, Windham, Bennington
NH: Cheshire, Sullivan, Grafton
MA: Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire

Any and all eligible students are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is Monday, April 9th, 2018. No recorded auditions will be accepted. There is a $25 application fee payable by check or credit card.*

The competition itself will be held on Sunday, April 22nd at the Brattleboro Music Center, 72 Blanche Moyse Way, Brattleboro VT 05301

The winner will receive $200 and perform with the Windham Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Hugh Keelan. The Windham Orchestra, founded in 1969, is composed of amateur and professional musicians.

For more information, download the application packet below. This info can also be found at 

*If the fee creates a hardship for you, please let us know. Assistance is available.

We are grateful to Douglas Cox, violinmaker, for funding this annual competition.

2017-18 Windham Orchestra Season Continues to Delight

Windham Orchestra has a new rehearsal home, the auditorium at the Brattleboro Music Center.

We are starting to listen differently, to discover ourselves from a shifted vantage point, and create new expressions of excellence.

Our 2017-18 season is based (77%!) on repertoire choices made by the playing members of Windham Orchestra.

Some samplings:

  • Our 'B's' are Beethoven, Brahms, Benjamin Britten and Bernstein
  • We embrace eclecticism and the light-hearted: Leroy Anderson, Ferdie Grofé, Bernstein
  • A whole concert is dedicated to.....Russia! (We are a non-political organization.)
  • Despite that, four out of thirteen works are American. (We are a non-political organization.)
  • I shall be soloist and conductor in one program...Brahms' D minor Piano Concerto, and the Pastoral Symphony
  • 'Classical' triumvirate of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven

Here's what's really important about us: we are hugely ambitious, passionate and welcoming. We are strongly convinced that we handle the orchestral experience, standards, inclusion, and participation, differently than others. Come and find out about us for the first time, or discover us anew.

On our Fall program, Appalachian Spring was sensitive, sharply-etched and unique to Windham Orchestra. We are currently taking the measure of the wild romanticism of Scheherazade and the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, and the astonishing newness and inspiration of Beethoven's Pastoral.

Come to visit us any Monday evening at the Auditorium on Blanche Moyse Way, and get to know us, please! We'd love to find out from you what you think makes us distinct.

Very warmly,
Hugh Keelan

2016-2017 Season Summary & Annual Meeting Minutes


The Windham Orchestra offered a season of life-and-death emotion, virtuosic challenge, intellectual intensity and profound connection. We all experience music as a direct contact with these shared human phenomena and each of our concerts offers a rich and beautiful access to our own core.

In our opening concert, we experienced what it is to live with the recent history of our town of Brattleboro, what it is to live in nature and the elements, what it is to be a flawed hero. Later: family drama painted very large; music that endures as a perpetual summit, no matter how frequently we scale it; purest beauty and delight. 

On May 15, 2017, two dozen Windham Orchestra members, volunteers, and significant others got together for our 2017-18 season annual meeting. If you'd like to learn more about what we covered, we invite you to download the meeting minutes:

Program Notes for March 24 & 26

Beethoven Mar 2017 Poster.jpg

Beethoven & Sibelius Concerts

Symphony No. 4 in B opus 60 (1806)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

This is considered one of the good-humored even-numbered symphonies of Beethoven, yet this composer whom we never outgrow toys with us wickedly in the symphony's slow introduction: dark, snaking melodies, groaning bass sonorities, doubt after doubt expressed with no resolution offered, not a glimpse of a major chord...and in a flash, four movements emerge exploring worlds of untrammeled joy and freedom. Personally, I hear brilliance and romping playfulness in the first movement (once the gloomy introduction is brushed aside); serenity and generous acceptance in the slow movement; the capacity to laugh without mockery in the Scherzo; and self-acceptance, ease with the whole world, and everything in it, in the finale.

Those are my words and interpretations, and I look forward to taking myself by surprise in our rehearsals and performances together, and discover vistas and details I have never before encountered. 

Concerto in D minor for Violin and Orchestra opus 47 (1905)
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)

I. Allegro moderato

Jayna Leach, violin. Winner of Windham Orchestra Concerto Competition

Jayna Leach from Keene, the winner of our Windham Orchestra Concerto Competition, plays a substantial single movement by Sibelius, Finland's most celebrated composer. It is easy to associate Sibelius' music with a very particular northern, or Nordic, aesthetic of beauty, embracing darkness, introspection, and cold. The last Sibelius we played portrayed a wild, exhausting storm.

Now, as we embark on our rehearsals, I am struck by the warm, sunny richness (Mediterranean even!) of major passages of the violin concerto.

Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Sinfonia Eroica (1804)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

A memoir of Ferdinand Ries in 1804, visiting Beethoven:

"In writing this symphony Beethoven had been thinking of Buonaparte, but Buonaparte while he was First Consul. At that time Beethoven had the highest esteem for him and compared him to the greatest consuls of ancient Rome. Not only I, but many of Beethoven¹s closer friends, saw this symphony on his table, beautifully copied in manuscript, with the word "Buonaparte" inscribed at the very top of the title-page and "Luigi van Beethoven" at the very bottom. ...I was the first to tell him the

news that Buonaparte had declared himself Emperor, whereupon he broke into a rage and exclaimed, "So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!" Beethoven went to the table, seized the top of the title-page, tore it in half and threw it on the floor. The page had to be re-copied and it was only now that the symphony received the title "Sinfonia Eroica."

Only one French horn is added to a standard classical orchestra, and awestruck, we enter a world of sonic richness and complexity un-inferrable from CPE Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven's two preceding symphonies.

Two declamatory chords open the vast first movement, miraculously these two moments of fission cause an expansion of formal engagement—time—that is without precedent. The movement is not just long, it has the quality of traveling without knowing where borders might be; we dwell for noticeable periods in realms greatly distant from our starting point of those two chords. Known experiences offer no stability or insight.

I find myself faced with limited resources in finding words for the Eroica, so just some questions. Where in the music, if anywhere, can 'heroic' be found?

Do you find a quality of 'joke' anywhere? If so, is there any incongruity?

Who, or what, do you experience as having died in the second movement Funeral March? Not as a matter of knowing the development of Beethoven's relationship Napoleon Buonaparte, but your reactions as you listen deeply, and encounter the music at its essence.

Violinist Jayna Leach Wins the 2017 Windham Orchestra Concerto Competition

We're pleased to announce that Jayna Leach, a 15-year-old violinist from Keene, New Hampshire, is the winner of this year's Windham Orchestra Concerto Competition. She played Sibelius Violin Concerto in the audition on February 5th, and will join the orchestra for the first movement of that work in our March concerts:

Friday, March 24, 2017, 7:30pm
The Putney School, Putney, VT

Sunday, March 26, 2017, 3pm
Latchis Theatre, Brattleboro, VT

Jayna was a winner in an extraordinary field of players. She is already a musician of wide accomplishment, and her performances will be unmissable.

The rest of the Windham Orchestra program is devoted to Beethoven: the warm and light-hearted Symphony No. 4, and the heavens-storming Symphony No. 3, Eroica. Each piece offers a perspective on living with beauty and transcendence in turbulent times. This music is for us, now.