May 11, 2006

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Concord Publisher's Note: Concordís musical economy
By†Dan Szczesny

This weekend brings a special event to Concord. I donít mean Motherís Day, though thatís certainly a special occasion. Iím referring to the spring performances of the Concord Chorale, which take place this Saturday and Sunday.

If you havenít heard the Concord Chorale, you should. Led by music director Ryan Turner, this highly regarded group tackles unusual and challenging choral works. Their repertoire ranges from time-honored classics to hot-off-the-press pieces in some cases written just for them.

This time around, theyíre performing Leonard Bernsteinís stirring Chichester Psalms, a modern masterwork rarely performed anywhere, let alone in Concord. For more about the music, see the preview on page 24.

We highlight the Choraleís concerts to make a point about the areaís arts scene. For a relatively small city, Concord packs quite a cultural punch. Other organizations include the Granite State Symphony Orchestra and the Concord Community Music School, both of which contribute mightily to the local music scene year-round.

Concord is also home to WCNH-FM 94.7, a low-power FM station that broadcasts classical music 24 hours a day.

One reason these activities flourish is that thereís a local audience for them. Consider Granite State Operaís performance of Madama Butterfly last Sunday, which sold out the 1,300-seat Capitol Center for the Arts. The box office was mobbed prior to curtain time; at least one report surfaced of ticket scalping!

Why does this matter? Classical music may not be your cup of tea, but itís an important economic development tool. And, to use a musical term, thatís key.

In the 21st-century economy, the most promising opportunities will be in knowledge-intensive fields such as software development and scientific research. In a post-industrial economy, this is already where most of the wealth creation is happening.

In the Internet age, ďknowledgeĒ industries can locate anywhere. So communities that offer a well-rounded quality of lifeóand that often includes a vibrant cultural sceneóhave a big advantage over those that donít.

In that sense, Concord is ahead of the curve. Just as the cityís role as a railroad hub brought sustained prosperity in the 1800s, the cityís growing cultural scene will help Concord get its share of 21st-century economic development.

Thatís one reason Hippo covers classical music. Sure, itís the artsy thing to do. But itís also selfish on our partóa vibrant arts scene is good for business, and weíre as interested in that as anyone.

But this process doesnít happen automatically, nor is it self-sustaining. The areaís cultural scene requires talented performers, but also audiences willing to give local music a chance. And thatís where you come in.

Do your part and attend one of the Concord Choraleís performance this weekend. Youíll support a big component of the cityís economic future, and youíll get to hear some unusual music.

And if thatís not enough incentive, you can even take Mom to it.

This weekendís Concord Chorale performances are at St. Paulís Episcopal Church, 21 Centre St., downtown Concord: on Saturday, May 13 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, May 14 at 3 p.m. Admission is $20; seniors and students get in for $15. For tickets, call 223-6726 or show up at the church.


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