March 8, 2007


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Nashua Publisher's Note: The local connection
By†Jeff Rapsis

This weekend, the Nashua Symphony will stage an unusual concert thatís well worth checking out, and not just because the Nashua High School North Auditorium is heated and a nice place to be after the sun goes down on a cold March night.

Why? Because this Saturdayís concert involves music created, in part, by local high school students.

Wait a minute. Local high school students? Donít symphony orchestras usually play works by Beethoven and other folks from faraway places who lived and worked long before Nashua even existed?

Local high school students? What was that, some kind of typo?

Noóin a project thatís been more than a year in the making, Saturdayís concert features three brand new pieces of music inspired by poetry written by high school students right here in Nashua.

Dubbed ďthe Ripple Effect,Ē the program is part of an ongoing attempt by the Nashua Symphony to bridge the gap between classical musicís grand old traditions and life as itís really lived and experienced today.

Other efforts include a collaboration last fall between the orchestra and the Nashua-based Granite Statesmen barbershop chorus. Not your usual combo, but it resulted in some memorable music made by local folks, helping bring the orchestra closer to the community.

To me, thatís the key. Too often, symphony orchestras of all sizes enlist local people for activities such as fund-raising, ushering, grant-writing, and many other tasks, all of which are one step removed from the orchestraís fundamental purpose, which is making music.

So who makes the music? In many cases, itís the exclusive province of hired freelancers who do a great job, but who often arenít part of the musical life of a community.

This is too bad, because by disconnecting local people from the act of actually making music, orchestras wall themselves off from being part of the living, breathing world of the community that supports them.

Yes, part of an orchestraís purpose is to bring to life timeless and universal classics by Beethoven and the other great composers.

But I think a bit part of the power of all music is how itís rooted in human experience, whether from the 18th century or today. And if an orchestra, large or small, canít connect with life as itís lived today, then itís not going to thrive. In Nashua, weíre lucky to have a symphony willing to take action on this front.

Will this weekendís music be good or bad? Thatís not the point. The important thing about the pieces to be played this weekend is that they will be at least partly ours, reflecting life as it is lived and felt and experienced right here and now.

The music starts this Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m. For tickets or info, call the Nashua Symphony at 595-9156 or visit