Folk trio Mountain Man to give Bennington commencement address

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BENNINGTON — The folk music trio Mountain Man, three women who are Bennington College graduates, will give the college's 84th commencement address next month, campus officials announced Wednesday.

Molly Erin Sarle, Amelia Meath and Alexandra Sauser-Monning will address the class of 2019 at Bennington College's commencement dinner Friday, May 31 at 7 p.m. on the Commons Lawn.

The band members graduated in 2012, 2010 and 2009, respectively.

Sarle, Meath and Sauser-Monning formed Mountain Man while attending Bennington College, and released their debut album, "Made the Harbor," soon after, according to a media release from the college.

The college has had several musicians and composers as past commencement speakers, including Meredith Monk in 2002 and Joan Tower in 1990. Recent commencement speakers include Liz Lerman in 2018, Cornell William Brooks in 2017 and Jane Chu in 2016.

Mountain Man's commencement speech will address the nature of collaboration, said Natalie Redmond, associate writer at the college, in an email.

"Collaboration has always been a valuable part of a Bennington College education, but it is particularly timely now as we look forward to the reopening of Commons, which will provide educational, social, and communal spaces and resources for students to utilize across disciplines," she said in the email. The Commons building is considered the hub of campus life.

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The members of Mountain Man have forged artistic paths since meeting at Bennington College, and the mix of their individual work and their work as a group speaks well to the Bennington College experience, Redmond said.

"We hope their story will resonate with the class of 2019 as they consider the influence the Bennington College community has on their lives and the individual paths they will pursue after graduation," she said.

According to the band's website, the group formed after Meath heard a "gorgeous sound" coming from the living room of her dorm in 2009. She found Sarle singing, and demanded Sarle teach her the tune.

In turn, she taught that song to her friend, Sauser-Monning. The next time the two of them saw Sarle, they sang the song with her, forming Mountain Man.

After taking time to explore artistic paths on their own, the band reunited in 2018 to release their second album, "Magic Ship."

The group has toured with bands like Feist and The Decemberists, according to the release.

Michelle Cirillo,'19, will be the senior class speaker. As a student of ceramics and philosophy, her academic path was a model for fusing creative inquiry and social good, and she has been lauded for her visionary, principled and empathic leadership, the release states.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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