Pinske a finalist for reality show; new name for Jelly Bean shop; and Kurn Hattin teacher makes Grammy list

‘Carved in Vermont’ makes final five for reality show

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Wood carver Barre Pinske, left, and producer Alex Strandling.

Chester chain saw artist Barre Pinske and Bellows Falls filmmaker and producer Alex Strandling’s program “Carved in Vermont”  has been named among the top five finalists in the A&E and New York Television Festival’s third annual A&E Unscripted Development Pipeline. The contest was open to independent producers offering them an opportunity to develop new programming with A&E.
Pinske and Strandling met through the Fact 8 public access studio in Bellows Falls and have been working together on projects for four years. Their show “Carved in Vermont” features Pinske and coworkers creating carved and chainsawed works of art and meeting the challenges of running a small business. Pinske’s humor and odd-ball stunts drive the show.
Stranding submitted a three-minute promo video to the contest.
NYTF contest officials chose the Top 25 semi-finalists from the thousands of entries, leaving A&E executives the task of choosing their Top 5 finalists. These finalists receive production notes and $2,500 to shoot a short presentation from which a winner will be chosen. The winner could win $10,000 plus a nationally televised reality show on A&E.
The duo was surprised they were selected to be among the Top 25, earning a pitch session with A&E producers. They have been instructed by NYTF producer Tarrance Gray and an A&E producer to create a final pitch adding a few more characters to the show and offering storylines for six episodes. Their finalist package will be submitted by Oct. 2.
Search the web for the “Carved in Vermont” video and roughly shot short comedic works from Pinske’s webcam that runs each day from his studio. The first episode of “Carved in Vermont” and other videos may be found by typing “Barre Pinske” into the YouTube search box. Or go to

Jelly Bean Tree changes name to River Artisans Cooperative

At their Sept. 10 meeting, the members of The Jelly Bean Tree Artisans Cooperative of Saxtons River voted unanimously to change the cooperative’s name to The River Artisans Cooperative.
The Jelly Bean Tree Cooperative, founded in 1975, is Vermont’s oldest crafts cooperative. The organization recently moved its shop to a new location at 26B Main St. after three decades in Saxtons River’s Main Street Arts Building.
“The Jelly Bean Tree has grown over the decades and it was time for a change,” Joan Lester, the coop’s president said. “The recent move was an catalyst for this decision. We were changing, our membership is growing, and it has been a rebirth of sorts.”
After approving the name change, the group started to plan fall workshops. Beginning Knitting and Beginning Calligraphy classes will be scheduled for October and in November a Make Your Own Ornament class will teach basic decorative painting techniques.
Craft get-togethers were also discussed. A regular daytime Knitting/Crochet group and a Projects Half Done group may get under way for the winter.
For more information on these classes and groups, please check The River Artisans Facebook page for updates. Stop in the shop, call 802-869-2099 or e-mail to be put on the preliminary list for the classes or gatherings. The shop is open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Expanded hours will be announced soon.

Kurn Hattin music director semifinalists for Grammy educator award

Lisa Bianconi of Kurn Hattin Homes in Westminster is one of 25 music educators who are finalists in the first ever Grammy Music Educator award.

Lisa Bianconi of Kurn Hattin Homes in Westminster is one of 25 music educators who are finalists in the first ever Grammy Music Educator award.

Lisa Bianconi, music director at Kurn Hattin Homes for Children, has been chosen as one of 25 semifinalists from across the United States for the first-ever Music Educator Award presented by the Grammy Foundation and the Recording Academy.  The 25 semifinalists, music teachers from 24 cities across 15 states were announced on Sept. 11. More than 30,000 nominations were submitted from all 50 states.

The Grammy Music Educator Award was established to recognize current music educators from K-college, in both public and private schools, who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to maintaining music education in the schools. The award will have its inaugural presentation during Grammy Week in February 2014.

In May, Bianconi learned that she was one of  217 music teachers in total, and one of three nominees from Vermont, who had been chosen as quarterfinalists. The other Vermont quarterfinalists are Glendon Ingalls of Rutland Town School and Joanne Scott of Fairfield Center School.

The 25 semifinalists were then chosen based on an essay submission, video footage of actual teaching sessions, and testimonials from students and colleagues.

Bianconi said, “The support of Kurn Hattin’s staff and students over the past 28 years has been amazing. They have allowed me to spread the joy of music, and I’m so thankful to teach here.”

Kurn Hattin Homes’ Co-Executive Director, Connie Sanderson, nominated Bianconi for the award. Sanderson said, “When you see Lisa’s passion for teaching children and using music as a tool to make a difference in their lives, it seems natural that she would be chosen as a semifinalist. She creates an educational environment that is infused with excitement and she brings out the best in every child.”

The past year included several landmark performances for the Kurn Hattin Select Choir under Bianconi’s direction, including appearing on stage with Grammy-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster and winning top children’s gospel performer in Western New England public television member station WGBY’s “Together in Song” choral competition. The Kurn Hattin Jazz Ensemble performed for the first time at the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington. The Kurn Hattin Marching Band will perform at the Big E in Springfield, MA. on Sept. 27.

Established in 1894, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children in Westminster, Vermont is a charitable, year-round home and school for boys and girls, ages 6-15, who are affected by tragedy and social or economic hardship. Kurn Hattin Homes transforms the lives of children and their families forever.

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About the Author: This item was edited from one or more press releases submitted to The Chester Telegraph.

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