Monday, March 30, 2015

Music with a Mission series continues with Windham Chamber Singers - By Elizabeth Richards

The Windham Chamber singers take the stage with the program for their upcoming spring tour at the next Music With A Mission concert at the North Windham Union Church. The concert begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, 2015.
The group is excited to be performing in their hometown, where the community knows them well, before they head out on the road. 

“It’s really cool because it gets us really excited for what we are doing for the rest of the spring,” said Emily Algeo, the group’s assistant conductor.  

Emily Gagne, president, said she feels the Chamber Singers owe a lot to the community. “I feel like we are very accepted as a performing arts group,” she said. “We are very lucky to be in a district that cherishes music and will always support us.”

Conductor Dr. Richard Nickerson, said that this performance fits right into the Windham High School graduation requirements pertaining to community service. “This is community service at its best, raising money for a nonprofit charitable organization.”  

The nonprofit group benefitting from the concert is Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors, an organization that provides emergency fuel assistance in the community. The officers of the Chamber Singers all expressed a sense of satisfaction in being able to give back to their own community through their participation. Secretary Parker Perkins said, “We’re doing what we love while helping others. Everyone has their own story. It’s cool to know we’re giving back.”

Gagne added, “It’s cool to take a passion that a group of students has and make it into something that will help other people.”  In performing at prior Music With A Mission concerts, she said, “I’ve seen that the emphasis on community is something that we carry with us in our music and we carry with us in our spirits. It’s something really special that I’m really lucky to be a part of.” 

As the group prepares to go on tour, Nickerson said that the chance to perform in the smaller setting of the church rather than the large auditorium is nice. “When you go to the church it’s a much more intimate setting with your audience. We encounter that all the time on tour, but those are people we don’t know. These are people who are part of our community.”

The officers of the group said that their tour is an exciting opportunity for them.  “Tour is an amazing opportunity because we really bond as a group,” said Ceili Spaulding, the group’s librarian. “We get to explore Maine this year and see places that we might not have seen before. It’s just a really cool experience all together.”  

David Kaschub, the Chamber Singers stage manager, said that he’s travelled to many cities on tours with the Chamber Singers, allowing him to meet different people and see how people in those cities live.
Performing for students of all ages, from elementary to high school, is a special part of the tour experience, said Gagne. When she was in third grade the Chamber Singers performed for them, and inspired her to get excited about music. “To know that we get to share that sort of feeling with other kids is really awesome and really special,” she said.

Algeo added that not all school districts are as big on music as Windham. Their performances allow them to share the idea of music with other districts. “It not only gives the students a perspective of having fun and performing at the same time but it also maybe gives their faculty some more ideas to push music forward,” she said. 

This year the spring tour takes the group to Coastal and Northern Maine. Stops include Boothbay Harbor, Ellsworth, Millinocket and Houlton. The tour allows students to learn some great life lessons, like working together and appreciating a routine. “Our tours are very scheduled,” said Gagne. Sometimes, it’s a whirlwind of activity – setting up risers, performing, tearing down and moving on quickly. “What’s cool about that is that you get a sense of what it’s like to be busy within a music industry. It’s cool to experience that as teenagers,” she said.

Vice President Jennifer Bernier added that the most important lesson she has learned is to be part of an ensemble. Knowing that the purpose is to blend in with others and make the overall group the best it can be is vital, she said. 

Nickerson added that the group recognizes the importance of representing their school, and takes that very seriously. 

In addition to the spring tour, the Chamber Singers have some other exciting events on the horizon. On April 28th they will sing the Star Spangled Banner and Oh Canada at Fenway Park. And next April, the group will join with students from York High School as well as choir alumni to perform at Carnegie Hall. The goal for this show, which Nickerson calls the “Carnegie Maine Event” is to put 200 to 250 Maine students on the stage, something which has never been done.

Regardless of all the upcoming events, the main focus this week is to put on a great Music With A Mission concert. Nickerson said that although their concert last year was packed, the Chamber Singers do not hold the record for most people in attendance. This year, they’re hoping that will change.

Tickets for the Chamber Singers Music With A Mission concert are $12 for adults/$10 for students and seniors, available at the door. The show begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 28th.

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