Hancock Family Christmas Concert set for Saturday

  • The Hancock Family Christmas Concert will be held at the First Congregational Church on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 4 p.m. Courtesy Photo

  • The Music on Norway Pond Junior Minstrels will perform in the Hancock Family Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 21. Courtesy Photo

  • Hancock Family Christmas Saturday, Dec. 21. Courtesy Photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 12/18/2019 9:23:14 PM

About ten or so years ago the first annual Hancock Family Christmas Concert was organized and it quickly became the go-to holiday event in town.

“It is our town’s tradition and people plan their season around it. They know they are going to see it. It puts them in the right mood for the season,” Jody Hill Simpson said. “It’s very joyful and it’s uplifting and it’s unifying.”

This year’s “Singing the Stories” themed concert is planned to take place Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Hancock First Congregational Church.

Simpson, founder and artistic director of Music on Norway Pond, said it started when First Congregational Church Rev. Judy Copeland asked her to hold a musical event in the church for Christmas and it just snowballed from there.

As is tradition, Simpson’s adult and children’s choirs, the Norway Pond Festival Singers and Junior Minstrels, along with the Village Bell Ringers are performing. But inviting guests is also tradition for this concert. The special guests this year are singer/songwriter/award-winning fiddler Steve Schuch of Hancock, flute and whistle artist Sarah Bauhan of Hancock on recorder, mezzo-soprano Jazimina MacNeil of Harrisville, and percussionist Isabel Dreher of Peterborough.

“This is the first year we have really gone local for our guests,” Simpson said. “There will be about 60 performers all together.”

MacNeil has a rich mezzo-soprano voice, Simpson said.

“She sings a lot with Apple Hill and Electric Earth and the Bridgeport Symphony,” she said. “She has a very rich, warm mezzo voice, a very singular sound that you just don’t find that often. She’s the real deal.”

The concert will include Christmas and solstice story songs and a song written by Schuch telling the story of the people of Copenhagen, Denmark donning yarmulkas, or kippahs, in public after an instance of Jewish persecution.

“It’s what we need right now, not being so divided, but connecting,” Simpson said, adding the concert’s focus is on “what unites us this time of year.”

The choirs will also mix the traditional Christmas carol “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming” and the Bette Midler ballad “The Rose.”

There is also a Greek song about the New Year with the children playing finger cymbals.

“It’s great, it’s the kind of one that gives you goose bumps and you want to stand up and cheer after it’s done,” Simpson said.

The Hancock Family Christmas Concert is planned to take place Saturday at 4 p.m. in the First Congregational Church on Main Street.

Simpson encourages audience members to come early for the roughly one-hour concert. 

“The doors open at 3:15 and it’s like the Filene’s Basement wedding dress sale. Everybody wants to come and we don’t reserve seats. You just have to come and find a seat. It’s a really good big problem to have,” Simpson said, adding that the concert now draws people from around the region and not necessarily to see someone they know. “We have tons of people that don’t have anyone in it. They just go. And they go because it just makes them feel right. There aren’t that many concerts like this around.”

The concert is free, but donations are appreciated and help Simpson defray the costs for Music on Norway Pond, which provides music events in Hancock throughout the year.

“Music is such a wonderful connector,” Simpson said. “Everyone gets connected, you’re not lonely at this concert. And the audience, I think, very much feels like this is their birthday, ‘This is for me.’ … It’s a gift for them. It is for them.”

For more information, go online to www.musiconnorwaypond.org/

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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