Symphony New Hampshire director of operations Nick Adams said he knew creating a children’s alphabet book could be a successful fundraiser for the state’s biggest symphony — but he didn’t know just how much the community would rally around N is for Nashua.
“It took on a life of its own. The character of Nashua comes through in a lot of ways in this book. It’s an old mill town, but there are some really neat things going on,” he said. “The city just rebranded itself, for instance, with its new logo, Dare to Begin. … I think there’s a lot of really great energy around Nashua, and I think this book, and not all by our efforts, kind of captured that.”
N is for Nashua will be available for the first time at the symphony’s next concert on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Community members from all over the area helped make it happen. Every page in the book was sponsored by a local individual or business, with major contributions by the Nashua Bank, Gray Cat Graphic Design and Chick-Fil-A. The colorful collection of original, donated art contains important Nashua “characters,” like Holman Stadium and Railroad Square.
“It’s a really great resource if you’re new to the city,” graphic designer Barbara Warnke said in a phone interview.
She’d know — she actually is new to the area and now has a whole list of things she wants to do this year. (Specifically, she wants to check out the “W is for Winter Holiday Stroll” this month.) Warnke designed the book through her company, Gray Cat Graphic Design, free of charge.
“It seemed like a really worthy cause. It also seemed like a really great project. … The amount of interest by the people in Nashua was also really encouraging. Knowing all of the names of these different artists, seeing their work and being able to participate in that really sparked my interest,” Warnke said.
Rebecca Murphy, who photographed the “U is for Ukulele” page, is also new to southern New Hampshire. She loves Nashua’s downtown atmosphere.
“I love that there are people always gathering. There’s a lot of community attention about what’s going on in the city,” she said.
If you’re not as fluent with Nashua culture as you’d like to be, N is for Nashua is also pretty educational. Daniel Abbot, for instance, listed under “D is for Daniel Abbot,” was a powerful force in fueling the creation of Nashua’s mills and the first president of the Nashua and Lowell Railroad. He was also the first president of the first bank in Nashua.
The “N is for Nashua” page, on the other hand, details the origin of the city’s name. Nashua was named after the Nashua River, which was originally the “Nashaway” river, named by a Native American chief. It means “beautiful river with pebbly bottom.” Each letter is paired with original art donated by Nashua and New Hampshire residents.
The idea for the book came about during a mid-winter meeting for the League of American Orchestras last January, Adams said. Here, Executive Director Eric Valliere saw that other American orchestras, like the Paducah [Kentucky] Orchestra, found great success in using community-created alphabet books to raise money. Symphony NH began recruiting writers and artists early last summer.
“In the end, we were able to get unique art by 26 different artists,” Adams said.
About 50 percent of those artists were professional, he said. There were about 160 letter submissions by more than 70 different people.
The art is varied, with paintings, photographs and even a quilt by local artist Cindy Goodman. It depicts important locations in Nashua. The quilt took her two months to make, but, she said, it was for a worthy cause.
“I thought it was a great idea. I’m from Nashua, born and raised. I left 20 years ago, married a Marine, followed him around, and when he retired in 1998, I couldn’t wait to move back. Any way to raise money in the arts, I’m in,” she said.
She loves seeing the rallying and growth of arts in Nashua.
“I went to my first Symphony NH concert this summer at Holman Stadium. I was totally wowed. I enjoyed it so much, and I can’t wait for this next one in November,” she said.