Castleton: The shows go on, with locals’ help

The Amerigo Trio, with (from left) Glenn Dicterow, Inbal Segev and Karen Dreyfus, performed Monday at a Castleton recital at the Theatre at Washington. Photo by Ray Boc.

Pulling off a music series like the 2010 Castleton Festival takes the work of a lot of helping hands both behind the scenes and in front.

The music festival is in its second year. It features performances by a 200-member company of young artists under the guidance of conductor Lorin Maazel. This year’s festival includes performances of works by Puccini, Britten and Stravinski, among others.

A corps of local volunteers is helping to make it all happen. They are asked to perform such duties as ferrying performers from the airport, ushering, greeting guests, working the concession area and even offering sleeping quarters in their homes to festival staff.

Gene Botsford is sharing his home on Grand View Road to two festival staffers — Richelle Buchmiller, a stage manager apprentice, and Kathryn Zoerb, an assistant stage manager. Both women are in college.

They’ll be staying with him rent-free through July 25. Botsford is retired from a career handling government contracts.

“I’m also ushering there [at the festival] but I wanted to do more,” Botsford said.

“It’s turned out amazingly well. They are courteous, considerate young ladies,” he said of his houseguests.

Botsford took Buchmiller to a Washington Nationals baseball game along with his grandchildren. And he took both ladies to the fireworks at Bill Fletcher’s Thornton Hill Hounds course on July 4th.

The young women are typically out of the house early in the morning and don’t return until 7 or later in the evening.

“It’s been delightful having them. I would recommend this to anyone next year,” Botsford said.

Pat Curry of Tiger Valley has been “fetching people at the airport,” which has been great because “I can talk to them for quite a while. You feel you really get to know them,” she said.

She’s also been doing some ushering and has been a greeter.

She said she also volunteered at last year’s festival and remained on the mailing list.

“I was really excited when I first heard about it,” she said of the opportunity to be a part of the festival.

A side benefit is that she can sometimes snag an empty seat in the house to catch a performance for free.

Cady Soukup has been doing “whatever they need me to do” and that’s included serving as an usher during performances and working in the box office.

This is her first year helping at the festival.

“I know Melanie [Kopjanski, the festival’s volunteer coordinator]. She lives next door. Last year I didn’t know anybody but this year I contacted Melanie” about volunteering.”

Being part of the festival has “been a dream come true. I come from a musical family. I was one of five kids and we all started out on the piano and then went on to other instruments,” Soukup said.

She later learned to play the cello and she has sung in groups.

“Music has long been my passion,” she said. “It’s been wonderful. [Castleton Farms] is such an intimate venue. I come to all the performances. It’s just a delight. They’re such wonderful people.”

Kopjanski said this week the festival has enough volunteers to see it through to the end of the current season.

“Volunteers are critical” to the success of the festival, she said.

This year, festival staff has found a place to live with 60 volunteers who have offered space in their homes. A total of 175 beds have been secured this way.

Kopjanski said there are 250 musicians, artists, and production staff. There is housing for some on the Castleton grounds but not all and Kopjanski noted there aren’t any hotels or motels in Rappahannock. So those who offered room in their homes are filling a critical need, she said.

“Some folks will have Castleton people in their house for a month and a half,” she said.

A total of 40 volunteers are handling ushering or greeting duties or working in the festival store or in the box office.
Kopjanski was a greeter herself last year.

On Monday of this week, Kopjanski said she was still in need of volunteers but that changed quickly and by Tuesday she reported that there was enough help. But there’s always next year.

“There is training. There’s a plan of attack — guidelines. When folks come in there’s training but it’s nothing to be intimidated about,” she said.

About James Ivancic 68 Articles
James Ivancic is a reporter for the Fauquier Times in Warrenton, Va. Contact him at