The Hippo


May 31, 2020








The Fifth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers in period wear. Courtesy photo.

Civil War camp re-enactment

Where: Statehouse lawn
Itinerary: At 10 a.m., the Civil War camp opens, and public can learn about Civil War medicine; at 11 a.m. there’s a military drill, circa 1865; at 1 p.m., there’s a public lecture, “Rally Round the Colors: New Hampshire’s Civil War Battle Flags;” at 2 p.m. there’s a firearms demonstration; at 3:30 p.m., there’s a public lecture, “To Hell and Back The 5th NH Returns to Concord.” The camp closes at 6 p.m.
The event, said Company A Fifth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers Chairman Chris Benedetto, is interactive, and viewers can come and go throughout the day as they please.
Performing on the Statehouse lawn is something the nonprofit had been thinking about for a while. They’d never performed there before.
“We’re excited because the Statehouse lawn is such a prominent space in Concord, and really New Hampshire. Then there’s the history of the building. It was there during the Civil War, and the [battle flags] have been stored there since the Civil War,” Benedetto said.
Hear “The Last Letter Home”
Concord: Saturday, June 13, at 7 p.m., at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 21 Centre St., Concord; preceded by Civil War camp re-enactment from 10 to 6 p.m. on Statehouse lawn by Fifth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers
Plymouth: Sunday, June 14, at 4 p.m., at Plymouth Congregational Church, 4 Post Office Square, Plymouth; preceded by Baker Valley Band concert on the Common at 3 p.m.
Admission: For both shows, tickets are $30, $25 for seniors, $20 for students, $15 per person for a group of 10 or more, free for U.S. military personnel, veterans and students in grades K through 12; the events accompanying the concerts are free to attend
Contact:, 855-642-4672

NH’s Civil War story
Commemorating 150 years with concert, re-enactment

By Kelly Sennott

One hundred fifty years ago this spring, the Civil War ended. Thirty thousand people from New Hampshire fought, and many never came back.

“It’s really an important story to tell,” Chris Benedetto, chairman of the Fifth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, said via phone last week.
Wanting to tell this story, the nonprofit agreed to perform a Civil War camp re-enactment on the Statehouse lawn before the New Hampshire Master Chorale’s spring concert, “Last Letter Home,” this weekend.
The re-enactment occurs Saturday, June 13, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and the concert is at 7 p.m. that night at St. Paul’s Church. There’s another concert on Sunday, June 14, at the Plymouth Congregational Church.
“I thought [having a re-enactment] would be an interesting and great way to prepare people for the concert,” New Hampshire Master Chorale Musical Director Dan Perkins said via phone.
The concert consists of war-inspired music accompanied by a string orchestra. The centerpiece is “Last Letter Home,” set to a letter written by U.S. Army tank crewman/Iraqi soldier Jesse Givens to his wife and children in 2003. Singers will also perform composer-in-residence Dr. Jonathan Santore’s new work set to the poetry of Herman Melville, Civil War-era music and African-American spirituals.
Perkins first heard “Last Letter Home” by Lee Hoiby at a Philadelphia convention years back. The emotion and strength of the piece struck him, and he knew he’d like to have the chorale perform it someday.
“It’s not poetry. It doesn’t rhyme. It’s an honest letter from a man to his wife and children,” Perkins said. “The music really … heightens the emotion of the text. We don’t know this person or his family, but the combination of all these things helps us feel the emotion, and the horrible trauma it must be.”
Santore’s piece is a world premiere. Perkins suggested the assignment last summer while setting final details for the 2014-2015 season, since much of Melville’s work is about the Civil War. 
“He gave us the first movement in March, the second movement a month later, and we just got the last movement two weeks ago. It’s a really exciting and organic process,” Perkins said. “I’m not a composer, but one doesn’t just sit down and out it comes. This process of composing and finding the right sound for the words is always fascinating. … I’m always thrilled with what [Santore] sends me.”
Between songs, there will be readings of Kevin Powers’s poetry. The writer served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and his book, The Yellow Birds, was a finalist for the National Book Award. The last song of the concert is “Find the Cost of Freedom” by Crosby, Stills and Nash.
The chorale, made up of about 30 singers ages 21 to mid-60s, is strongly invested in the work. Singers have been rehearsing once a week in Plymouth the past three months.
“It’s been really great to see the emotional investment in this process, which is no less but really different from our last project,” Perkins said. 
Last year’s spring concert was held in the Concord parking garage, and the year before, it was in the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.
“I’m really interested in finding a broad application for music. I love music, and my singers love to sing, but I think we still need to work really hard in our society to draw in as many new listeners as possible,” Perkins said. “We get lots of people at these concerts who normally wouldn’t go to a choral concert. They come because we’ve done some interesting programming. … And then they find they’re moved in a way they didn’t expect.”
As seen in the June 11, 2015 issue of the Hippo. 

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