The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








Rachel Samet. Courtesy photo.

See “The Peace of Wild Things”

In Auburn: It’s at the Massabesic Audubon Center, 26 Audubon Way, Auburn, on Sunday, June 1, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10, $25 for families, and following the one-hour concert, guests are invited to join volunteer naturalists on a guided nature walk around the center. Call 668-2045 to reserve seats. There’s space for 150 people.
In Portsmouth: There are concerts at the WSO! home base, Christ Episcopal Church, 1035 Lafayette Road, Portsmouth, on Saturday, June 7, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, June 8, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students.


Making “Peace”
Women Singing OUT! performs at Audubon

By Kelly Sennott

 Equality, freedom, peace, wildlife — Women Singing OUT’s new artistic director, Dr. Rachel Samet, had a lot to consider when choosing the music for the community chorus’s upcoming concert, “The Peace of Wild Things,” which makes its debut at the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn Saturday, June 1, at 3 p.m.

She wanted to ensure the concert fit well with what it celebrates that day — the New Hampshire Audubon’s 100-year anniversary — but also with the mission of the chorus, comprised of lesbians and friends of the lesbian community who strive to inspire social change through the power of song.
“It’s a women’s chorus of all different sexual orientations, but the mission is bigger than that. It’s about all kinds of justice and all kinds of freedom,” Samet said, shortly before the chorus’s rehearsals last Wednesday.
We sat outside the Christ Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, where cars were whipping by and the sun was beginning to set. The church itself looks like a restored barn from the outside; it’s large, brick-red, and out front there’s a street sign that says “Come as You Are, Leave Refreshed.”
In her year with WSO!, Samet has appreciated the ambition and passion of the group.
“Oftentimes, I think that we think of women’s choruses as being of only one color or one feeling — of being sort of gentle or maternal, but really women can sing aggressively and passionately, and I’ve liked exploring all different kinds of styles for this group,” Samet said.
The idea for the Auburn concert began with chorus member Beverly Youree, who’s also a volunteer at the Massabesic Audubon Center. The event would be one hour, with no intermission, and it would coincide with a nature walk through the Audubon’s garden and 100-year-old barn. 
“It’s a nice way to tie in with the anniversary and give the choir a chance to perform somewhere other than the seacoast, which is where our base is,” Youree said. 
Samet drew the name and theme of the show from the poem “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry, which they’ll sing set to music by Joan Szymko. The songs that follow fit themes that coincide with the Audubon and the chorus, with the result being a mix of peaceful and striking songs.
“We’re singing ‘Ani Ma’amin,’ a traditional Jewish piece that was sung as people were heading to concentration camps. … But it’s not all heavy. There’s a silly piece about gardening, one about how to vacuum your house, too,” Samet said.
Samet has been in New Hampshire for two years, having moved back to New England from Hawaii. She currently teaches at The Derryfield and was the artistic director for its ambitious youth production, Rent. 
“We don’t want someone who’s going to give us easy music. We want to be challenged, and we expect to grow musically under her as well,” said Ellen Marlatt, a chorus member who was on the selection committee.
WSO! is a place to make friends and find support, a place where you can just be who you are and be accepted for it, said Jean Ellison, a singer who’s been part of the group for more than 10 years. 
She’s been part of many local singing groups — the Seacoast Choral Society in Durham, the Rockingham Choral Society in Exeter — but to her, there’s something quite different about WSO!
“I was so thrilled to find it,” Ellison said, just before an evening rehearsal. “I am gay, and I think it’s a place where I’m really comfortable and totally at ease. I have a wonderful time singing about things that are meaningful. … There’s a lot of heart in what we do and a lot of dedication for the cause.” 
As seen in the May 22, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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