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October 04. 2013 8:35PM

Alvirne singers inspired by Grammy winner's visit


Peter Eldridge, an award-winning composer, performer and Berklee Collage professor, shared his talents with Alvirne High School's jazz chorus Friday morning. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

HUDSON — A Grammy award-winning singer and composer went to the head of the class at Alvirne High School Friday morning, where he kept in harmony with 85 members of the school chorus.

Peter Eldridge has written songs for the likes of Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon, has released four solo albums, performed at Carnegie Hall and is a co-founding member of the double-Grammy winning group New York Voices.

But he said some of his most enjoyable moments, perhaps, are spent cultivating young dreams.

During his visit in Hudson Friday, Eldridge worked closely with the local students during a 90-minute music clinic, where he offered up professional advice at a time when students could really use it.

According to Chorus Director Elizabeth Beaton, about 25 of her students will be auditioning for the New Hampshire Music Education Association's Jazz Allstate Chorus later this month.

Auditions are on Oct. 26 and as that date gets closer, it can be downright nerve-wracking.

"Having Peter come and talk to these kids comes at such a critical time," Beaton said on Friday as she watched the smiling composer become enveloped in a crowd of teens. "It's had such a profound impact on them."

Applauding loudly when a small, a capella group performed "I'll Be Seeing You," Eldridge's warm words of encouragement came across as those of an old friend rather than a famous musician.

"When in doubt, sing it in French," he joked with the teens.

Freshman Isabel Russell said she wouldn't soon forget her encounter with fame."It was pretty eye-opening," she said. "But it also felt natural talking to him. He was pretty easy to talk to."
Fellow freshman Kylie Marcotte said it was particularly helpful to hear a professional opinion on her performance.
"He taught us about things we've never heard of before," she said. "It was pretty cool."
Junior Hannah Noonan admitted she was initially intimidated when she learned someone so famous was coming to her chorus rehearsal.

"Then I saw how relatable and fun Peter was," she said.

For senior Rachelle Choiniere, it felt like a possible glimpse into the future.

"Wherever I go, I hope I always end up singing in my lifetime," she said. "This experience has definitely been encouraging."

Eldridge said he felt pretty encouraged too, having met such a talented bunch.

"This is a group that really supports one another," he said.

The Walpole resident said some of the best parts of teaching his craft are the moments when a student has what he refers to as an "a-ha" moment.
"You're working with that student and suddenly you just see that light bulb go off in their head," Eldridge said. "It's moments like that there need to be more of."

aguilmet@newstote.com


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