Letter: A round of thanks from Summer Sonatina


To the Editor:

It's been more than a week since Summer Sonatina Piano Camp closed our 50th season and celebrated our final day of camp in downtown Bennington at the Four Corners. I finally have a bit of energy to thank all the people who made our 50th so special. It does take a community and I'm grateful to so many.

Big thanks go to Joel A. Martin for composing "The Bennington Stomp," a four-piano and chorus piece that not only was upbeat and fun, it was educational. The world premiere of this was sensational!

Next, my thanks go to the four artists who painted the pianos: Rhonda Ratray, Greg Winterhalter, MaryJane Sarvis and Kim Wassick. Their artwork contributed so much to the excitement of the event.

The beautifully painted pianos have now been brought to their forever-businesses at Bringing You Vermont, Gamer's Grotto, Elm Street Market and Summer Sonatina. Thank you for your excellent stewardship and for bringing more joy to the downtown streets of Bennington. I have witnessed several people stopping to play tunes already.

More thanks go to the following people and organizations:

Matthew Perry and VAE for pairing artists to the four donated pianos as well as many other behind the scene needs like moving the pianos and the Bennington Area Arts Council for being our fiscal agent and supporting the piano project idea.

To Kristi Segura for helping all the young pianists learn all the dance moves for "The Bennington Stomp." To Matt Edwards who rehearsed all the choral parts for the five intense days of rehearsals.

To the Bennington Police Department and the Town of Bennington for allowing us to perform on the Piano Key Compass for 22 joyful minutes.

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To the four pianists who performed on repurposed pianos and gave so much energy to the world premiere: Joel A. Martin, George Lopez, Tim Jones and Avi Randall.

To the Billy Rose Foundation, The Bennington Area Arts Council and many private donors who gave financial support to this grand event and for all the local scholarships we were able to provide this season. We couldn't have done it without your support.

To the various soloists singing and dancing: Sophie Barabas, Aidan Jones, Shaun Wicks, Maksim Halich, Evan Wicks, David Guzman, Maddie Hopkins, Rebecca Wagenheim, Emily Williams, Dasha Martin, Javier Marciano and Nikita Staniloae.

To the Bennington Banner and its reporters and photographers for the many articles written so eloquently about Summer Sonatina and all the energy and positivity that piano camp evokes. It was great to learn that AP News picked up your news article about the event so Bennington was happily mentioned throughout the nation. My only regret is that it did not attract enough attention to bring in outside media during the event to witness that Bennington has a vibrant arts community.

To CAT-TV for capturing and posting the piano event online for all to enjoy. We are lucky to have this wonderful resource in our town.

Thank you to the Northside Dairy and Brooke Thomson-Drew specifically as she is an alumna of Summer Sonatina, for all the delicious ice cream she donated to our pizza party.

To all the faculty, staff and students of Summer Sonatina for your hard work to learn the piano piece, song and dance in five short days of rehearsals in addition to keeping up your three hours of piano practice and lesson routines while at piano camp. You all were remarkable in offering so much of yourselves to make this happen.My final thanks go to my mother, Rosamond van der Linde, the founder of Summer Sonatina, for her incredible vision in imagining a piano haven for so many pianists, to come to study piano in our beautiful town of Bennington, Vermont. Thank you all again!

Polly van der Linde,


The writer is director/owner of the Summer Sonatina International Piano Camp.


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