The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








The New Hampshire Master Chorale perform Bernstein’s Mass this weekend at the Capital Commons Parking Garage. Courtesy photo.

See the New Hampshire Master Chorale and Chamber Orchestra

On Saturday, June 21, at 7 p.m.: At the Capital commons garage, between So. Main and Storrs streets, Concord, in collaboration with Red River Theatres, includes screening and sing-along of West Side Story. Tickets $35 general, $30 senior, $25 student; call 224-4600, visit Tickets for screening or concert only also available.
On Sunday, June 22, at 4 p.m.: At the Plymouth Congregational Church, 4 Post Office Square, Plymouth. Tickets $30, $25 senior, $20 student; call 855-642-4672, visit

Parking garage music
New Hampshire Master Chorale takes Bernstein to level 4

By Kelly Sennott

 The idea to perform in a parking garage came to Dan Perkins a few years ago, shortly after a New Hampshire Master Chorale rehearsal in downtown Concord.

“A group of us were walking in the Capital Commons parking garage. On the way to our cars, we started singing,” Perkins said in a phone interview. 
The acoustics, Perkins realized during the impromptu song, were quite good; the sound was not unlike what you might hear while singing in a cathedral. The area was also spacious, unusual, and would fit nicely with the chorale’s mission to reach out to new audiences. Really, he thought, it could be a great place for a concert.
But it wasn’t until this year that he found a suitable lineup to fit the location: on Saturday, June 21, at 7 p.m., the New Hampshire Master Chorale and Chamber Orchestra will perform Leonard Bernstein’s Mass on the fourth floor of that same parking garage.
Perkins thinks Bernstein would have approved; the composer, famous for crafting the music for West Side Story, was a bit unconventional himself. In his work, he was unafraid to be different and perform the unexpected. Pushing the envelope, Perkins says, was his specialty.
“Bernstein wrote this mass during the Vietnam era. He was under a lot of scrutiny by the government, who thought he was tied to socialism, so he was a bit of a rebel,” Perkins said. “The music is about his personal questioning of beliefs, of religion. It’s his search for answers. So this is kind of a cool piece to challenge the traditional notion of where classical music can be heard.”
Bernstein’s Mass was the piece Jacqueline Kennedy commissioned for the dedication of the John F. Kennedy Center. Choral member Sarah Edmunds finds it incredibly powerful.
 “The music is amazing to sing, especially if you’re religious. But even if you’re not, the music is gorgeous, the words are amazing, and it always makes me think about what’s really important,” Edmunds said.
In addition, the concert on June 21 consists of the world premiere of NHMC composer in residence Jonathan Santore’s “Solstices” and Nico Muhly’s setting of Walt Whitman’s “Expecting the Main Things From You.” Following the concert, Red River Theatres will present a sing-along screening of West Side Story on the other end of the parking garage. The compilation results in a blend of rock, musical theater and classical styles.
“There are passages that are West Side Story in sound,” said Mark Yasewicz, Bow chorale member of four years. “And for me, the first thing that comes to mind in West Side Story is the urbane setting. … [The parking garage] is very well-suited for what is an extremely lively piece of work.”
It’s not the first time the chorale has performed in an eccentric space; their last concert, “Northern Lights,” occurred at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center against a backdrop of ethereal photography by Christopher M. Georgia. Another project featured musical accompaniment to the black-and-white film The Passion of Joan of Arc in Plymouth. 
Edmunds hopes the screening and obscure concert location will bring in more listeners.
“We’re normally always in a church or a big hall. It’s nice to take music to a place that’s less musical. You don’t normally think of music while you’re standing in a parking garage,” Edmunds said.
Perkins agrees.
“We had such a great experience in the fall at the Discovery Center,” Perkins said. “A lot of people came to that concert who otherwise might not have come. Part of our mission is to reach out to new audiences, and by singing in unconventional venues, we hope to bring this type of music to people who otherwise might not venture out to hear it.” 
As seen in the June 19, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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