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Monadnock Chorus partners with Keene State choirs for winter concert

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse STRAVINSKY’S SYMPHONY OF PSALMS with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Dr. Matthew W. Leese conducts the Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs at the Peterborough Town House Tuesday night. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s Symphony Of Psalms with a 26-piece professional orchestra Tuesday night in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House which the 130 singers plan to present at the Redfern Arts Center in Keene Friday, Dec. 7, and then at the Peterborough Town House on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Monadnock Chorus members Olivia Holmes and Joan Epro, left to right, sing with Keene State College student Paul Chipman in the Peterborough Town House Tuesday night. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce

  • Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs rehearse Stravinsky’s “Symphony Of Psalms” with a 26-piece professional orchestra in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House Tuesday night. Top: Dr. Sandra Howard, Associate Professor of Music at Keene State College, conducts.  Center: Monadnock Chorus basses Brad Taylor, Alan Everson and Mark Pitman sing. Staff photo by Meghan Pierce



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, December 06, 2018 1:19PM

Members of the Monadnock Chorus and Keene State College choirs gathered in the Peterborough Town House Tuesday night to bring together a choral piece the groups have been working on separately for the past few months.

This weekend they are presenting the piece, Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms” to audiences in Keene and Peterborough.

Tuesday night was also the first time the groups worked on the “Symphony of Psalms” with a professional orchestra, brought together for the concerts.

The two groups had met and rehearsed, without an orchestra, at the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College, only once in October to go over the piece for the first time as a group and agree on some tempos, Monadnock Chorus artistic director Dr. Matthew Leese said following the Tuesday night rehearsal.

“This was the first time of having everybody,” he said.

Together the group makes an impressively sized chorus of 130 members, with Monadnock Chorus making up about about 90 members.

“I got a really good sense that everybody felt more confident than they thought they would. It’s a really tricky rhythmic piece. There’s so much going on and so much in the orchestra that is deliberately in contrast with what the choir is doing,” Leese said. “There are the challenges and the things you know are going to be difficult and amazing. Just the sheer numbers. You know the louds are going to be so powerful. And when you have people singing very quietly too, you know it’s going to be really powerful. Because you have all of this restraint in a room. There’s a kind of energy that happens when the molecules are kind of popping in a certain way with quiet sound. It’s really magical.”

When rehearsal ended, Leese was “relieved” to say that energy came alive and was created by the group.

Both groups bring strengths to the concert, there is the experience of the Monadnock Chorus members and the youthful optimism of the college students, he said And both groups had to place a lot of trust in each other as well as the orchestra, which they had never worked with before.

“There’s a lot on your shoulders before they walk into the room,” Leese said as a conductor. “I don’t know how I was able to trust it, but I just knew that it was going to come together. ...This time last week the college kids, as well as Monadnock Chorus were going, ‘Do you actually think we’re ready. … They were freaking out.”

This is Leese’s fifth season as director of the Monadnock Chorus. He also teaches at Keene State for the past four years, teaching concert choir, early music consort, opera workshop and applied voice.

The concert is a collaboration with Dr. Sandra Howard and the Keene State College Music Department and will also showcase each choir individually, with short works by Gabrieli, Holst, Z. Randall Stroope, Schubert and Debussy.

“So we start off together and then we break out and the big chunk at the end of the concert is the Stravinsky,” Leese said.

Leese said he and Howard have been talking about doing a collaboration for the past three years. “We both knew we wanted these groups to work together. That it would be a good synergy. I suggested this piece because it’s frickin crazy and nobody does it,” Leese said. “I wanted to pick something totally wild.”

Leese said the Stravinsky piece is incredibly powerful.

“It’s really deep. It’s a lot of psalm text. So it’s talking about complete desperation and feeling like coming from a place in your life or your spiritually where nothing makes sense anymore and pulling yourself out of that place or asking to be pulled out of that place,” Leese said. “The last movement is about complete utter awe and childlike joy.”

Tickets for the Friday concert are available from the Redfern Arts Center Box Office (603.358.2168) or online at www.keene.edu/arts/redfern. Tickets for Sunday’s concert in Peterborough are available online at www.monadnock-chorus.org, or at local Peterborough retailers, Steele’s Stationers and Toadstool Bookstore.