The Hippo


May 28, 2020








The New Hampshire Master Chorale. Goodwin Treadwell Photographers.

Attend A Little Night Music

Saturday, June 18, at 8 p.m.: Eagle Square, Atrium Lobby, Concord (pre-concert cash bar and reception via Tandy’s Top Shelf Pub, 1 Eagle Square, starting at 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 19, at 4 p.m.: Plymouth Congregational Church, 4 Post Office Square, Plymouth
Admission: $30 general, $25 senior, free for undergraduates and students grades K-12

Singing Sondheim
NH Master Chorale concerts highlight musical theater

By Kelly Sennott

 Stephen Sondheim has written music and lyrics for some of the most popular musical theater productions on stage today, and in the process, he’s received eight Tony Awards — more than any other composer in history — one Academy Award, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, the Laurence Olivier Award and a 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He’s unmatched, in New Hampshire Master Chorale Music Director Dan Perkins’ opinion, which is one reason he centered the chorus’s upcoming concert, A Little Night Music, on Sondheim’s work. The other is that it’s quite different from this fall’s Bach program.
“I love the music of Stephen Sondheim, and I thought, this would be a great contrast for our singers, and for myself and for our audiences,” Perkins said. “His music is, by far, more complicated and has more depth and more interest for musicians than any other [musical theater] composer today.”
One performance happens at Concord’s Eagle Square Saturday, June 18, the next at Plymouth Congregational Church Sunday, June 19. The program contains musical snippets from five of Sondheim’s shows — Company, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George and A Little Night Music. Perkins will conduct while accompanying the singers on piano.
The New Hampshire Master Chorale, now in its 13th year, is an auditioned nonprofit group made up of about 25 singers who must work to retain their slots every year. As a result, they’re all experts.
“Many of the singers are music educators. Many of them have undergraduate and graduate degrees in music. It allows me great flexibility in the repertoire I choose because the musicians are capable of a lot,” Perkins said. “The resulting sound is glorious. We can then spend a lot of time on interpretation and … extend way past notes and rhythms, the nuts and bolts of music.”
It comes in handy when singing Sondheim.
“It’s surprisingly difficult. For a group that’s used to challenging music like Bach and contemporary classical composers, the music of Sondheim has incredible rhythmic complexity and depth,” he said.
Sondheim’s music is about relationships, Perkins said, and members will perform while connecting to the content of the music. The Into the Woods segment in which the baker and his wife wish for a baby will feature small solos by Jenny and Lisa Cooper, who are expecting their own baby soon. Another piece will feature Brad Dumont and Gwen Dunn performing as Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) and Jack’s mother.
The Saturday concert happens in the Eagle Square Atrium, following the group’s tradition of performing in unexpected venues, having performed in the Concord parking garage in 2014 and the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in 2013.
Perkins said he’s always hunting for new concert venues, and currently, the chorus is hoping to put together a show in the Concord Hospital lobby. Another possibility is a big, open space at the Steeplegate Mall.
“There’s a heightened experience for the singers and the audience [at non-traditional venues]. It adds a level of interest, color and excitement that’s sometimes hard to achieve in a church pew,” he said.
Perkins comes into this concert just a few weeks after directing one for the Manchester Choral Society. Straight after, he’ll leave for a tour in Cuba with the New Hampshire Friendship Chorus. Later this summer, he’ll attend a conducting and singing symposium in Italy. 
“I feel really lucky to get to approach … so many different styles of music with so many groups of people,” he said. 

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