Once again the Windham Chambers Singers have pushed the envelope, under the careful and precise direction of their musical surgeon Dr. Richard Nickerson. Despite the April-Fool’s-Day storm, the North Windham Union Church was at near capacity to listen to a preview of their upcoming maritime tour. Just two weeks before the tour begins, the singers stunned and amazed their audience with a new brand of entertainment - a program never seen before and performed live for the first time. “The idea tonight was to see how certain pieces work together; making sure everything is put in the right place,” said Nickerson.
Before the performance, he shared a little bit about the newly created show and what to expect, without giving too much away. “The first half is pretty serious. Seventy-five percent of what will be sung is not in English, but in Latin. We try to cover as many time periods as possible. We are going to do some stuff that is 400 to 500 years old.” “This is typical of Nickerson”, as Selene Baker, Senior and Vice President of the singers explained, “This type of concert shows how well rounded we are, going from singing acapella palestrino and then singing pieces that both the girls and guys have put together. It’s a completely different side of the spectrum but it is the same choir.”
The preview was a chance for the parents and community to be able to see the program. “Our first concert is six hours away and not everyone can make the trip,” Said Nickerson. They are making the trip by hiring a coach paid for from previous shows. “When we do a push for our show in December, every penny that is raised goes to support this group. We raise all our own money.” Even the girls’ new dresses, worn this night were paid for from the proceeds of the Queen Tribute show.
The first half was just as Nickerson had described it. Before each piece, one of the singers presented the audience with a concise description of the history behind the musical number; each delivered with the performance we have grown accustomed to, evident from the applause and buzz it created during the following 20-minute intermission.
While the second half was as light as you can imagine, the singers clearly proved they were far above just standing there and projecting their voice - by displaying their ability to provide a theatrical stage presence. While the second half was light, it also included numbers that required an extreme amount of body language which left the audience in stitches.
There will be 15 concerts in five days. “The six day tour is non-stop the entire week with being at schools during the day. At night there will be performances at churches or some other venues,” shared Baker.
“That will pretty much be the year for us. The only thing we have left is an art show with the third graders which is actually a lot of fun; and then senior night when we honor the seniors. That’s going to be a big night because we have some guests coming,” added Nickerson.
Next year will be the 30th anniversary of the choir. Twenty years ago, just ten years after successful musical performances, the Chamber produced a professional CD to support their trip to Austria. In the first five weeks it sold over 10,000 copies. “That’s amazing,” exclaimed Nickerson.
The Music with a Mission is a concert series. “In our first four seasons we hosted 38 concerts and this is the fourth appearance by the singers,” stated Chairman of the committee Jim McBride. The program was created five years ago and is now in their fifth season. “We have a very strong music program within the church and we wanted to try and raise money for the non-profits in the area and to highlight local talent that is here. It’s a great opportunity to bring people in and for such a reasonable fee,” continued McBride. The proceeds of the performance will help offset the cost incurred by the church to put on the concert and back into the community to benefit RSU14 Backpack Program.