The Vermont Symphony Orchestra opened its 2008 Made in Vermont Music Festival Tour under the baton of Music Director and violin soloist Jaime Laredo. The inaugural concert took place in the Mahaney Center for the Arts at Middlebury College. The printed program had three works listed by Gershwin, Pierre Jalbert and Grieg, but just before the concert began, Laredo announced that the order would be Grieg, Gershwin and Jalbert. It seems to me, that the order was changed to the advantage of all three pieces. The Holberg suite, Opus 40, is Grieg's salute to the man who made Danish a respectable language. The five movements are familiar, indeed, over-familiar. Yet there was real pleasure in hearing the treatment that the music received. The only movement that needed more attention (of a thinking-about-it character) was the fourth movement, Air. Except for a few high notes that were there more in intent than in actuality, the execution was amazingly resonant in the concert hall. The Gershwin was entitled Lullaby, and even though it fulfills that title, the rhythmic underpinning was a haba-era, a Cuban lullaby. Pierre Jalbert was present to talk about the world premiere commission that was to be performed. Entitled Autumn Rhapsody, Jalbert said that it reminded him of the view from a fire tower on the long trail on Mount Belvedere. Stripped of its intended meaning, of impending fall with its winds that are less serene and more frenzied, it could have, qua music, supplied a cogent background for any number of situations. Suffice it to say that is a craftsman-like work that employed techniques for portraying wind and storms and serenity that Vivaldi used in The Four Seasons, a pleasant coincidence, since said work occupied the second half the concert with Laredo in the dual role of conductor/soloist. As familiar as the work is, it has little treasures that accounts for its having lasted for many hundreds of years. Laredo tended to take an approach I was more Romantic than the average performance today, but except for some notes that sounded more like Brahms than Vivaldi and some final cadences that were perhaps more slowed than was strictly necessary, he was a vibrant performance of the work, sometimes almost relentless in its pacing, a challenge not only to Laredo, but to the first chairs of the violin sections, and ditto the viola and cello sections, but they all came through the experience intact. There was a good deal of applause and several extended curtain calls, which still echoed out through the Center for the Arts as I was leaving. Oh, did I mention it? The concert was all music for strings. (By the by, the programming for the masterworks season in its 75th year of the orchestra's existence is a real triumph. I would venture to guess that most of the literature besides the several world premieres has not been heard in Burlington frequently if ever. My hat is off to the board and to all those who made the 75th season be a real challenge for audiences.) The Lane Series The UVM Lane Series opened last week in the Redstone Recital Hall, and featured a klezmer ensemble, Veretski Pass, comprised of Cookie Segelstein, violin, scordatura violin; Joshua Horwitz, chromatic button accordion; and tsimbl; Stewart Brotman, basy, tilinca. What? No clarinet? Yes, we have no clarinets. In fact, according to this trio of ethnomusicologists (people who study folk music and trace the varied histories of folk music), especially Segelstein, the clarinet replaced the violin around the turn of the 19th century into the 20th century. A scordatura violin is one tuned slightly higher than the pitch of the rest of the ensemble (at least it was a technique used by Paganini to give him a slight edge over the ensemble, because it does make the instrument standout slightly, even if you don't know why). A tsimbl or cimbalom is an instrument with strings that is played by hitting them with hammers. A basy is a bass violin the size of a cello, and it has various members of strings and various tuning for those strings. Finally, a tilinca is a flute without any finger holes, and the pitch that it emits a determined by the embouchure of the player as well as the use of a single finger at the bottom of the tube. One other thing you might need to know about klezmer music, is that they do not automatically play everything exactly as written, but are more likely to engage in heterocity, that is they may play the same melody or even a variant of the melody at not quite the same time as the other members of the ensemble, but it's all seems to hang together. Heterocity, as I thought about it, actually exists in classical music, where you have duple against triple time in a passage. In klezmer it seems to expand the resonance of the instruments playing together. That was all part of the lecture demonstration beforehand. Was it any good? Ask the two younger men who got up and danced. Ask the members of the audience who, although they stayed in their seats, where obviously completely taken up by the music (and probably secretly envied the two young men who did get up and dance). The concert was sensational, a spectacular beginning to the Lane Series 2008-09. Incidental intelligence: the next Lane Series event will be Oct. 4, not the usual Friday evening gathering. The event is monologist, Mike Daisey, who, not unlike the late Spalding Gray, improvises from a basic storyline. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Burlington resident Dan Wolfe observes and critiques the local arts scene for the Times Sentinel. His column appears weekly.