Classical Meets Contemporary

Verdant Vibes has carved out a niche for rethinking classical music in Providence


If you’re looking for fresh, lush musical sound in Providence, turn to Verdant Vibes Ensemble. Officially launched in 2015 with seed funding from RISCA, the performance group arose to fulfill a specific vacant niche in Providence’s cultural scene.

“When I finished school and moved to Providence nine years ago, it was hard to find opportunities locally as a composer,” says Verdant Vibes founder and pianist Kirsten Volness. “Despite the great arts community in RI, the traditional sorts of composition gigs I was able to find were in Boston, New York, or Hartford, but not Providence.” Kirsten and her partner (as well as Verdant Vibes bassist and composer) Jacob Richman almost left the city for other jobs but ended up staying, and they decided it was time to create the type of ensemble they were looking for – “to make our own opportunities for ourselves and others,” Kirsten says.

Now nine musicians make up the core ensemble, and a stable of guest artists perform at different times. One defining trait of Verdant Vibes is its focus on “celebrating living artists working in a variety of styles and media,” performing work submitted by living composers around the world, as well as “in-house” compositions. “It’s all about reinventing classical music and showing how these stylistic boundaries are blurring and fading away,” Kirsten notes.

Diversity is another priority, especially in terms of music, aesthetics, voices, and a multimedia approach to performing. The group keeps its call for scores free “to eliminate financial barriers to participation.” Verdant Vibes performs their annual fundraising benefit concert on February 3 at the Music Mansion. A minimum $25 suggested donation goes to support the artists and local businesses, and to keep presenting concerts.