Musical world comes to the Music School

Legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade graced our halls in October, rehearsing here in preparation for her concert at the Capitol Center for the Arts. As an opera diva who is frequently described as “beloved,” her reputation preceded her: she was gracious, warm and friendly in her many interactions with staff and faculty during her visit.  While touring the School, she spoke with voice faculty member Hannah Murray, who remarked, “What an honor it is to have you at the Music School. I hope that you’ve enjoyed your time here.” She replied, “Yes! This school is a little slice of heaven.” Many of her Music School fans gave her a standing ovation at her Capitol Center recital the following day.

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Pianist Laurana Mitchelmore, Peggy Senter and Frederica
von Stade after a rehearsal in the Music School’s Recital Hall

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Turtle Island Quartet courtesy of Jay Blakesberg

Turtle Island Quartet gave a thought-provoking workshop on November 16 as part of the Music School’s Jazz Workshop Week.  This groundbreaking ensemble inspired many musicians who wish to draw from America’s wealth of jazz, folk and classical traditions.

After their workshop, several quartet members joined the Beatles Orchestra, which is an annual “teaching moment” in encouraging Music School students to pursue multiple musical paths in classical, jazz and folk styles. First violinist David Balakrishnan spoke with Music School President Peggy Senter after Turtle Island’s performance at the Capitol Center on November 17, with nothing but praise for the Music School’s forward-reaching efforts in educating students “across musical styles.”

Many thanks to our friends at the Capitol Center for the Arts for making these connections possible! Join us at the Capitol Center for the next collaboration — our Purple Finches Children’s Chorus is joining forces with the Eastern Ballet Institute for The Twelve Days of Christmas on December 17. Tickets are available here.

Music School students in the musical world 

The Music School and New Hampshire are well represented in the wider world. Here are two examples:

Madeleine Stewart participated in MusicFest Perugia in Italy in August. In addition to studies with renowned pianists during two weeks at the Festival, she performed a Chopin Nocturne and Bach Prelude & Fugue on a solo recital, and performed the Concerto in d minor, 3rd movement, by J.S. Bach with the Festival Orchestra. Of this experience, Madeleine, who is 16 years old, reflected, “I knew the concerto well enough that I could listen to the music as I was playing it, and I enjoyed how it sounded. The hall was gorgeous, old and awe-inspiring.” Madeleine is at the Music School often: she is a piano student of Peggy Senter, a violin student of Bozena O’Brien, a fiddle student of Lissa Schneckenberger, and a member of the Folk Ensemble (the Cabbageheads) directed by David Surette, the String Chamber Orchestra directed by Gary Hodges, a jazz ensemble directed by David Tonkin and the Teen Vocal Ensemble directed by Hannah Murray. 
Watch her concerto performance in Italy.

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Michael Sink and friends performing for the National Conference
for Community Arts Education.

Michael Sink, pianist of the Music School’s Scholarship Jazz Ensemble and a jazz ensemble student of David Tonkin at CCMS since 2003, represented the Music School at the Trustee Reception of the National Conference for Community Arts Education on November 11, held at the St. Botolph Club in Boston’s Back Bay. He was joined by his friends and musical colleagues from the Jazz Program of New England Conservatory’s Preparatory Division, where you can find Michael on Saturdays. In attendance at the reception were such field leaders as the Dean of the Yale School of Music, the board chair of the League of American Orchestras, and approximately 100 school directors and trustees of community arts organizations from around the country. 
Listen to a recording that Michael and his friends made in our Recording Studio for college auditions.

Songweavers enters a new chapter

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Courtesy of Owl Woman Design

Carolyn Parrott and daughter Jessie Levine exchange a hug
at Carolyn’s retirement party in April.

How to replace an artistic visionary and founder? Last year, as Carolyn Parrott announced her desire to step down after 20 years leading the Songweavers Women’s Chorus, we knew that we had to work diligently to ensure the continuity of this community treasure. We launched a national search, interviewed seven choral leaders from across the country, and invited four to lead rehearsals, with extensive feedback from chorus members. After this intensive process, Peggo Horstmann Hodes was selected to lead the next chapter of Songweavers. However, Carolyn wasn’t off the hook — she was celebrated, honored, and characteristically modest at multiple events last spring.  

Of the transition, longtime Songweaver Joanne DeBold reflected, “Carolyn will forever be at the heart of this chorus but it has been left in a new pair of gifted hands with a unique and engaging personality. As one among many, I continue to come away from my weekly Songweaver experience with a lighter mood and happier soul for having been there.” A new semester of Songweavers begins on January 10 — there are no musical prerequisites and all women who love to sing are welcome.

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Courtesy of Owl Woman Design
Peggo Horstmann Hodes leads a Songweavers rehearsal this fall.

Music School in the news

The Music School is honored to have its stories featured by the following organizations:

Heartwood Media annually selects one New Hampshire non-profit through a competitive process to receive its Heartwood Challenge, a pro bono video that beautifully illustrates a nonprofit mission. We are so grateful to our friends at Heartwood for their energy, expertise and “heart” – we loved working with them and are very proud of our new video. Watch the video.

We are honored to be the featured grantee in the recent edition of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s “Purpose” publication. Read the article.

Happy holidays from the Music School!

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The Music School's Scholarship and Teen Vocal Ensembles,
led by Hannah Murray, entertained shoppers with Christmas
carols during Concord's Midnight Merriment event on Dec. 2.