There’s nothing dramatically distinct about Baltic music, said New Hampshire Master Chorale music director Dan Perkins. It’s characteristically subtle, he said, yet ethereal.
“It’s very tonal and neurotic, with gorgeous harmonies. It’s very lush,” he said.
Perkins has a soft spot for the Baltic region — he spent three years studying there in the 1980s — and so it’s not too surprising when he uses emotional, sensational adjectives to describe the music the New Hampshire Master Chorale will sing during “Northern Lights: Music from the Baltics.”
“The melodies are singable and I think the texture of this music is sometimes so ethereal and transporting,” Perkins said in a phone interview. “I’m in love with the area, from where you can see the Aurora Borealis, and I wanted to create a program centered around the theme of the Northern Lights.”
The 29-member chamber chorale, accompanied by a 12-member chamber orchestra, will sing in Estonian, Latvian, Latin and English during this weekend’s events, on Saturday, Nov. 23, at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, and on Sunday, Nov. 24, at the Plymouth Congregational Church. All audience members will be provided with English translations before the concert, but the words themselves are of little importance in comparison to the beauty of the sound, said chorale member Cheryll Andrews.
“If the Northern Lights had a sound, that’s what this music sounds like. It’s shimmery, it’s mysterious and it’s beautiful,” she said. “The words are important because they obviously tell the story, but music is universal.”
One piece will be accompanied by a set of tuned water glasses, Perkins said.
“We have a set of tuned water glasses with specific pitches, which we will play while we sing. It creates an eerie whistling sound, this shimmering sound that really matches the intent of the text, which is about the Northern Lights,” Perkins said. (This is also the trick Sandra Bullock uses as her talent in Miss Congeniality.)
It’s not just the music that’s transporting. Before each concert, local photographer Christopher M. Georgia will present a program that details his work capturing images of the Northern Lights in New England.
Georgia, who lives in Manchester, has spent the past two years working as an astrophotographer (a specialized photographer who records images of astronomical objects and large areas of the night sky.) He became hooked in 2011 during a trip to Island Falls, Maine.
“I had been doing daytime photography for a few years, but while on this island, I decided to start playing around. I shot pictures of the night sky. I didn’t know what I could achieve with the camera then. I pointed the camera north and found this strange glow. I knew there was no light pollution in the area. I continued snapping images and saw changes in the light,” he said.
He’ll also show his short film, “Light of the Night,” which illustrates his work. It’s only six and a half minutes long but contains 12,500 photographs, which were captured during 3,000 miles of driving and 250 miles of hiking to areas containing little light pollution, like Tuckerman’s Ravine on Mount Washington, Lonesome Lake at Franconia Notch State Park and the summit of Mt. Osceola in Waterville Valley.
The video spans nights and days — he’d take between 300 and 600 photos over the four to eight hours of shooting, which, in the film, allows the viewer to see the movement within the night sky over a very short period.
Georgia said lots of people don’t know you can see glimpses of the Northern Lights from New England.
“They’re [these glimpses] rare. But they definitely are there. It depends on how strong the solar storm is,” Georgia said. “They’re not like in Iceland, in Alaska, with crazy dancing greenish colors that you can see with the naked eye. … It’s a very faint white light, like a glow on the horizon. You have to really be looking to catch it. But you can see it much better through the camera over a long exposure. That’s when the real colors appear, the greens, the magentas, the reds.”