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Norway Pond presents ‘Pippin’

  • Benjamin Robinson is to play Pippin. Courtesy Photo

  • Courtesy Photo  Courtesy Photo 

  • Christina English as Fastrada Courtesy Photo

  • Jazimina MacNeil Courtesy Photo


Friday, February 08, 2019 1:16PM

Music on Norway Pond plans to present the Tony award-winning “Pippin” on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 4 p.m. in the Hancock Meeting House.

Following a Medieval performance troupe, this musical tells the fictional tale of Charlemagne and his son, a young prince in search of his life’s meaning.

In their eleventh year, the Norway Pond Festival Singers, Monadnock area women and men of all ages, are sure to delight with deeply moving songs like “Morning Glow” and “Corner of the Sky.” They will be joined by the Junior Minstrels, local school-aged singers, as well as the ConVal Select Choir.

Both Festival Singers and Jr. Mints work under the direction of Jody Hill Simpson, recent recipient of the Alfred Nash Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing individuals who made exceptional contributions to choral music in New England.

“Here on Norway Pond, we have been building a unique family of singers, ranging in age from six to way beyond sixty, and the resulting performances always resonate deeply with our audience,” Simpson says.

In addition to such excellent local talent, “Pippin” promises interesting staging and a few impressive imported voices. Featured guest artists include three notable mezzo-sopranos. First Britt Brown, who this season is singing the mezzo-soprano solo in Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony with the Indian Hill Orchestra, touring with the Boston Pops and Keith Lockhart for their holiday tour, and joining the Boston premiere of Stefan Weisman’s “The Scarlet Ibis”, will debut as The Leading Player in Pippin, who narrates the story of the prince and the traveling performers. Next is Christina English, who is performing this season with Boston Baroque, Cambridge Community Chorus, Resonance Works, and Lorelei Ensemble (including collaborations with the Boston Symphony Orchestra Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra, A Far Cry). She will play Fastrada in Pippin; MONP fans will remember her as Diana Devereux in Of Thee I Sing. Jazimina MacNeil, who has sung at Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood, Aspen Music Festival and held a solo recital in the Berlin Philharmonic, is a frequent favorite in MONP concerts, returning in the role of Catherine; the New York Times has called MacNeil “clearly a singer to watch” while the Chicago Classical Review praised her “rich mezzo-soprano voice and versatile dramatic style…tailored to each song.” Other guests familiar to MONP audiences include: Will Prapestis, founding member of Renaissance Men (a MONP fave), a frequent soloist and ensemble member throughout New England (Boston Baroque, Cantata Singers, and Emmanuel Music), besides playing bass in the Boston and NY pop scene; he will take the role of Charlemagne in this production. Benjamin Robinson, known for his “charming lyric tenor,” “emphatic characterizations,” and “easy vocal production and ... luscious instrument,” sings the lead of Pippin; in addition to a variety of roles throughout the country, including his Carnegie Hall debut, he serves as Artistic Director for Raylynmoor Opera. Last but far from least, Megan Henderson, Music Director of Revels (famed for its Christmas songs and stories), pianist, and a founding singer with Boston’s Schola Cantorum who has recorded with the Camerata, joins the MONP production as Grandma Berthe and will also be playing with the five-piece instrumental ensemble. Co-leader at the Village Harmony Summer Camp since its beginning 25 years ago, Henderson recently toured Europe and the UK with Northern Harmony.

“Pippin has a great deal more substance than many people realize,” Simpson says, “and is as much about America as Oklahoma or The Music Man. Themes such as coming of age, rites of passage, and lack of role models for young adults in today’s society give Pippin a gravitas and sense of hope that feels needed in our world today.”

Admission: $20/person, students come for free. Tickets for the Feb. 10 performance may be ordered online at musiconnorwaypond.org, or purchased at the Hancock Meeting House door.