Music in the air in NashuaBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent February 07. 2013 10:42PM
NASHUA -- Striving to provide entertaining and cultural opportunities for people of all ages and incomes, New Hampshire's oldest professional orchestra is hoping to offer a free outdoor summer concert in the heart of the city.
Symphony New Hampshire has begun a major fundraising campaign with a goal of performing Aug. 18 at Holman Stadium, allowing residents the chance to enjoy a high-quality musical experience while leaving their wallets at home.
If the campaign is successful, organizers are optimistic that the event - the symphony's first free outdoor concert in a decade - could become an annual tradition in Nashua.
"There is something about an outdoor orchestra concert that is unique. Good music, families gathering together to share great music in an informal setting - and it is free," said Jonathan McPhee, music director for Symphony New Hampshire, formerly known as the Nashua Symphony Orchestra.
Cities throughout the nation have successfully hosted large crowds for these types of outdoor events, including Boston's Esplanade Concerts, the New York Philharmonic in Central Park and the free concerts in Grant Park in Chicago, said McPhee.
"It is our time as an arts organization to bring our art to the entire community without barriers of cost and to a venue that is familiar to nearly everyone," he said.
The concert plans, however, are still tentative, said Eric Valliere, executive director of Symphony New Hampshire. The event will be feasible only if organizers are able to raise up to $15,000, he said.
A recent online fundraising campaign brought in about $4,000 for the event, and Valliere said he is now hoping some area businesses, organizations or groups will volunteer to help sponsor the show.
"I think there are still a good number of people that don't know we are here or that a professional orchestra even exists in Nashua," Valliere said this week. "This concert is a good way to get our message out and achieve our mission of providing music education to everyone."
The city has offered the use of Holman Stadium to Symphony New Hampshire, waiving the venue cost for the organization that has been in existence since 1923. Still, Valliere said the symphony is a professional orchestra and chorus, explaining it must still pay its musicians for the rehearsal and performance costs.
"We would really like to see a couple of thousand people attend, especially families. This will likely be included as part of the city's summer festival, concluding the events with a concert," he said. "But we can't afford to put on free concerts. We need sponsors."
The concert will focus on light entertainment with an emphasis on big, Broadway-style music that people of all ages will enjoy, coupled with a picnic theme, Valliere said. This will be a great opportunity for parents to bring their children and expose them to high quality music in a safe, comfortable and fun setting at Holman Stadium, he said.
Symphony New Hampshire typically performs six seasonal concerts in Nashua, taking the stage at venues such as Keefe Auditorium, Nashua High School North, Church of St. Joseph the Worker, Crowne Plaza and Court Street Theatre.
If the outdoor concert is a success this summer, Valliere said the symphony would like to host a free concert each year, perhaps during the city's Fourth of July festivities.
Anyone interested in sponsoring the upcoming summer performance at Holman Stadium is urged to email Valliere at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, the symphony will present "World Class" later this month, a concert that explores the hot rhythms and piquant harmonies that characterize symphonic music from Mexico, Brazil and Spain. The concert is scheduled for Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. at Nashua's Keefe Center for the Arts, 117 Elm St. Tickets are available from $12 to $48 at the door or by calling 595-9156.