Collaboration Takes Hanover Chamber Orchestra to Northern NH
PLYMOUTH, N.H. — Plymouth State University and the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire (AANNH) have pooled their resources to brighten North Country nights with “ Night Music.”
Hanover Chamber Orchestra (HCO) members participated in workshops in North Country schools and will present concerts March 12, 13 and 15.
The combination of school workshops for SAU 36 schools and HCO concerts presented by the organizations is a continuation of outreach projects by the University’s Center for Rural Partnerships and PSU Professor Dan Perkins, as Bristow-Stevens Professor of Music at PSU.
“Until now, there has been no year-round professional orchestra in northern or central new Hampshire,” Perkins said. “Without professional orchestral musicians able to visit their schools or put on concerts for them during the school year, elementary and secondary students are missing out on a key resource in their musical education. Hearing professionally played orchestral music will greatly help these students understand the process and will begin to build audiences to support the future of the school orchestra program,” he said.
The Hanover Chamber Orchestra includes a core of 23 musicians, which is added to on a performance-by-performance basis. HCO is in residence at PSU this year, rehearsing and performing at the Silver Center for the Arts in addition to other venues.
This season is a departure from previous years and a significant expansion in the orchestra’s purpose and mission, with outreach to schools and efforts through the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire to provide concerts in underserved areas of the North Country.
The arts alliance is also sponsoring a “Night Art” challenge and group art show, inviting high school and adult artists to create works of visual art that interpret a piece of music about night. The works will be accepted for judging at the Old Mill Studio in Whitefield through February 28. Chosen works will be displayed at Old Mill throughout March, and at the concerts, where each work will be eligible for a People’s Choice Award.
Perkins was impressed with the students and teachers at the schools. The Lancaster School held “dress up” day to help teach the students about concert etiquette and respect. Two faculty members wore tuxedos and many students wore their “Sunday best.”
“The music was introduced to students in grades K-12 at Whitefield Elementary School, Lancaster School and White Mountains Regional High School during informal, age-appropriate workshops with the principal players of the orchestra. The groups hope that making the music accessible and friendly at this level will prepare the students to appreciate and understand the music in the formal concerts in March.
Perkins said the students were engaged and visibly excited about the music. “I talked about the history, message and power of the music, as well as the instruments, the musicians and the role of the conductor. In each of the schools, I brought one student up to conduct the ensemble with my baton!” Perkins said.
“The high school students really related to Dan’s personality,” said Frumie Selchen, executive director of AANNH.
Perkins will direct the Hanover Chamber Orchestra in “Night Music” at the Silver Center for the Arts at Plymouth State University March 12 at 7 p.m., at White Mountains Regional High School in Whitefield March 13 at 7 p.m. and at the Lebanon Opera House in Lebanon at 3 p.m. March 15.
The concert program will include “Eine kleine Nachtmusic” by Mozart, “Verklärte Nacht” by Schoenberg, “Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky” by Arensky and “Divertimento (1930)” by Bartok.
I have always loved Schoenberg’s “Verklärte Nacht” (transfigured night) –- so mysterious and dark, yet hopeful and forgiving —- so I built this program around that piece and the theme of night,” Perkins said. “While the theme connects this music (besides the titles, both Mozart and Arensky wrote these pieces following the death of a loved one), there is great stylistic contrast and variety,” he said.
Carlene Ruesenberg, a graduate student at PSU, created a teachers’ resource guide for the workshops, which was distributed at the schools and online at AANNH. The guide presents information about the Hanover Chamber Orchestra, the music, a timeline of the composers and music in relation to significant events in American and European history, and lesson plan suggestions, as well as a list of recommended readings.
“The resource guide is designed to address learning standards including music, visual arts, language arts, history, geography and social studies,” according to Ruesenberg. Activities include listening to recordings of the music on the program, and asking students to make their own interpretations through writing and/or drawing. Student works may be exhibited the nights of the concerts and in the concert programs. Compact discs were included in the guide materials.
Tickets for the Plymouth performance are $20-16 for adults, $18-14 for seniors, $15-11 for youth and $5 for PSU students at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-ARTS or (800) 779-3869 and online at silver.plymouth.edu. Whitefield tickets are available through the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, email@example.com; and tickets in Lebanon are available at lebanonoperahouse.org.
Funding for the workshops and performances was presented in partnership with the AANNH Classroom and Community Concerts Program, with funding provided by the Plymouth State University Center for Rural Partnerships, and the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
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