The Hippo


Apr 24, 2019








CCMS Songweavers 2012. Photo by Larry Crowe.

Find your ensemble

Amare Cantare (P.O. Box 742, Durham, 365-6727, is an auditioned chamber chorus for men and women based in Durham that has been performing master works spanning five centuries since its founding in 1977. 
Concord Chorale (P.O. Box 160, Concord,, is a mixed, auditioned ensemble with more than 80 singers. Members come from across the state and even northern Massachusetts.
Granite State Choral Society (20 Allen St., No. 1431, Rochester,, is a mixed ensemble for ages 12 and up with no auditions or music reading skills required. New members are welcomed in September and January.
Concord Community Music School (23 Wall St., Concord, 228-1196, offers several classes and singing groups to join such as the Canterbury Singers, an inclusive ensemble that partners with the Canterbury Shaker Village to present authentic Shaker music and other American folks songs, Music and Movement, which offers fun and interactive classes for young kids from 5 months to 6 years old on weekday mornings through January, Purple Finches, a kids chorus for grades K-8 with weekly rehearsals during the school year, Songweavers, an all-women chorus that meets every Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, Sunflower Singers, a chorus for people with developmental disabilities and their caregivers, The Teen Vocal Ensemble, for grades 8-12, and The WOWS, which is a small women’s ensemble that studies more music.
Monadnock Chorus ( is a mixed chorus that has served the 40 towns in the Monadnock region since 1959. The main chorus performs two concerts in the fall and two concerts in the spring. The organization also offers a smaller choral ensemble called the Monadnock Chorus Chamber Singers, which prepares and performs six or more concerts each year.
Manchester Choral Society (88 Hanover St., Manchester, 472-6627, is an auditioned mixed choral ensemble established in 1961. The organization also offers an auditioned youth choir called Second Generation Manchester Choral Society (2GMCS) whose members represent six Manchester area elementary and middle schools. 
Nashua Choral Society (505 Amherst St., Nashua, 998-0443, kicked off its fall season with open rehearsals on Sept. 11 and Sept. 18. It’s welcoming new singers and inviting newcomers to come to rehearsals on Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 to try it out before officially joining. 
New Hampshire Friendship Chorus (P.O. Box 2257, Campton, is a mixed ensemble with a mission of fostering international friendship by performing abroad with singers from all over New England who travel every two years. Next summer, they will be touring in Bulgaria. 
• New Hampshire Gay Men’s Chorus (P.O. Box 6251, Manchester, 263-4333, is open to men aged 18 or older who are gay or gay-supportive. New members audition in September and January. 
New Hampshire Master Chorale (P.O. Box 705, Plymouth, (855) 642-4672, is an elite auditioned choral ensemble established in 2003 for trained singers from throughout New England. 
Portsmouth Pro Musica (P.O. Box 234, Portsmouth,, is a mixed choir of auditioned singers based in Portsmouth. In 2006, it was reinvented from the Portsmouth Women’s Chorus to be a mixed chorus.

Join a Chorus
The perks of singing with a group

By Ryan Lessard

 One of the best ways to flex your vocal muscles is to do it in a group like a chorus or choir. Some groups are more competitive than others and cater to specific sets of people, with benefits ranging from an enriched social life to improved health.

Amanda Simeone, a board member and singer in the Manchester Choral Society, said singing in a skilled ensemble lends the sort of fulfillment that comes from working with a team toward a common goal.
“It helps to open the skills of collaboration, of child development, of problem solving, critical thinking, and it also lowers a lot of stress levels for adults,” Simeone said.
In some cases, she said, groups can disguise faults that would be more transparent in solo performances.
“If there’s a section you need to sing out because you know it or hold back because you don’t know it so well, you’re not by yourself,” Simeone said.
For Hannah Murray, the voice and choral department chair at Concord Community Music School, the benefits of singing in a chorus are mainly social.
“You are not isolated. You are with a group of people who have something in common with you. And it’s a wonderful way for you to become instantly a part of the community,” Murray said.
But she also said there may be certain physiological advantages to singing.
“Singing is good for your health and choral singing especially is really good for your health. You make antibodies in your mouth while you’re doing choral singing,” she said.
How to get started
If you want to get into choral singing but have no idea what you’re doing, worry not. Dan Perkins, the music director at the Manchester Choral Society, said the very first step is to listen to a lot of choral music so you have that sound in your ear. Then, it wouldn’t hurt to maybe take some piano lessons or some online music lessons to help you get accustomed to things like note reading and rhythm.
“And I think singing in the shower is a great idea. Just start singing. Get your voice moving,” Perkins said.
There are several community music groups one can get involved in across southern New Hampshire. Some singing troupes are collected under the umbrella of organizations like Concord Community Music School. 
According to Murray, the people who sing in the school’s classes, which are de facto choruses, are mostly amateur singers with a range of experience. And the groups are set up as classes so beginners can learn vocal techniques or pick up how to read sheet music, which will come in handy for more advanced groups.
“For all of the groups that we have, it’s really all about music-making in a very joyful setting. They’re really, really fun. And you learn about music and get to sing in a social setting,” Murray said.
Her largest group is the Songweavers, an all-women group that numbers between 115 and 130, on average. They also have a youth singing group for K-8 students called the Purple Finches. That group usually has about 80 to 85 boys and girls and is divided into three age groups called Fledglings, Fliers and Finches. They meet once or twice a week and perform a couple concerts each year.
“You do not have to audition to join any of our groups with the exception of one, and that is our Scholarship Vocal Ensemble,” Murray said.
The Scholarship Vocal Ensemble targets high school juniors and seniors with the most talent. It caps out at six students from around the state.
“They’re the most talented kids in the state, vocally,” Murray said.
If you’re really good
For more experienced men and women, there are choral ensembles that require you to read music and pass an audition, such as the Manchester Choral Society, Portsmouth Pro Musica, Amare Cantare in Durham and others. That’s according to Perkins, who is also a music professor at Plymouth State University as well as the conductor of the Manchester Choral Society, New Hampshire Master Chorale and New Hampshire Friendship Chorus.
Manchester Choral Society is a gender-mixed group that’s been around for more than 20 years, he said. But in order to get in, you need to have a certain skill level.
“They need to be able to read music. They need to have experience singing in a chorus. Many of them play instruments, all of them have sung in other languages. And, of course, they have to sound nice,” Perkins said.
But the range of experience may vary, according to Simeone.
“A lot of them have had professional training or are just starting out. So the quality of the performances we put on are just superb for a community chorus,” Simeone said.
She said there is also a youth singing group called the Second Generation Manchester Choral Society, or 2GMCS, for students in grades 4 through 8 in the Manchester area. Kids also have to audition to get into that group.
The New Hampshire Master Chorale is an elite group of about 30 auditioned singers. It’s usually very competitive to get in and they’re currently not accepting any new members. 

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