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February 24 & 25, 2024 - Musically driven students and faculty from the Keene State College Concert Choir and the Plymouth State University Choirs had the chance to showcase their talents alongside the New Hampshire Philharmonic as part of a series of concerts showcasing Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 on Feb. 18, 24 and 25 at Plymouth State University, and the Seifert Performing Arts Center in Salem, N.H.

The KSC and PSU choir members and faculty provided the vocal component for Symphony No. 2. Vocal solos were provided by KSC’s soprano soloist Dr. Evan Leontis, and PSU’s alto soloist Hannah Murray.

KSC music Professor Dr. Sandra Howard sang alongside the choir and said the performance opportunity correlates with student success.

Howard said two choral professors, two solo vocalists and an orchestra, among other musicians, collaborated to realize the performance.

“This isn’t something our students have the chance to experience often,” Howard said. “This is a fantastic chance for our student musicians to level-up their musicianship, and hopefully build confidence that can translate into their future goals.”

Howard said the collaborative concert offered interdisciplinary opportunities to musically-minded members of the KSC community.

“Concert Choir is open to anyone on campus. We’re not just talking choral students, but anyone who connects with music. We have members from over 20 different majors, including instrumental students who wanted the chance to get up close and personal with the professional level New Hampshire Philharmonic,” said Howard.

Val Zanchuk is a trumpet player and the treasurer of the New Hampshire Philharmonic’s board of directors. Zanchuk said the Mahler concert series was the orchestra’s first collaboration with college-level musicians.

“This isn’t an opportunity they have every day, being able to play with a professional orchestra doesn’t happen all too often, and it was exciting for all of us,” Zanchuk said. “They did a great job, and we didn’t have to rehearse for more than one session. The choir came in so softly that it felt like heaven.”

Zanchuk added, “I hope they had the chance to embrace the personal, emotional, and spiritual feeling you get from performing for an audience,” Zanchuk said.

Junior James Slipp, a music performance major who sang with the Concert Choir, said Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 was a challenging and rewarding piece to work on.  “This semester has been almost constant work on Mahler. It’s a challenging piece, and most people don’t get to perform at this level until later in their musical careers,” said Slipp.  “It’s been great to work alongside so many talented people, and I hope the audience feels the same kind of awe we do. Mahler knew exactly what he was doing,” Slipp said.

Reporter: Ryan Pacheco can be contacted at

2023 - 2024 Season

October 14 and 15, 2023

Dvorak’s 7th Symphony, Bohemian Rhapsodies

Sorry Queen fans, but these are rhapsodies by real Bohemians. This vibrant concert explores the rich tapestry of Czech and English music, traversing spirited overtures, evocative suites, fantastical scherzos, soul-stirring concertos, and impassioned symphonies. The evening begins with Smetana's energetic Overture to The Bartered Bride, transitioning seamlessly into the pastoral scenes painted by Kaprálová in her Suita Rustica. The ethereal beauty of Suk's Scherzo Fantastique lends a whimsical touch, before the concert delves into the profundity of Elgar's Cello Concerto, a cornerstone of the Romantic era. Concluding the night is Dvořák's Symphony No. 7, a triumphant blend of folk elements and symphonic tradition. This concert provides a captivating journey through diverse emotional landscapes, perfectly showcasing the enduring charm of these musical masterpieces.

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Our annual Holiday Pops concert combines classical and popular seasonal favorites to put you in that holiday mood. This concert is great for all ages and always an audience favorite. This year’s concert will also introduce the music of Florence Price, the first major black woman composer. Her “Dances in the Canebreaks” introduces dance music themes she knew in her lifetime. Her music is now regularly performed by major orchestras.

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Population: 30,448

Population 50+: 46%

Days of sunshine a year: 201

Median home price: $406,600

Salem might be on the smaller side of our list, but nearly half of its just 30,000 residents are 50 and up — making it easy for retirees to find community in this north Boston suburb.

The town’s amenities serve a wide range of interests. Residents can hit the links at one of the area’s three golf courses, ante up at Chasers Poker Room and Casino, or take the grandkids to Canobie State Park, a 1902 amusement park still in operation today.

Love live music? The New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra — known as “The Phil” — is based in Salem. Catch it throughout the year at the Seifert Performing Arts Center. One festive event on the calendar is The Phil’s Holiday Pops concert, which features both classic and modern holiday hits.

For exercise, Salem Town Forest is full of trails to hike and bike. If you have the travel bug but can’t afford an international trip, stop by “America’s Stonehenge,” Salem’s 4,000-year-old maze of rocks and stone. Rumor has it the site served as an astronomical calendar many moons ago.

If retail therapy’s more your thing, you’re in luck: New Hampshire is one of the few states with zero sales tax. Take advantage at Salem’s Mall at Rockingham Park (there’s over 1 million square feet of shopping space!), head over to the outlet shops in nearby Merrimack, or make a day of it in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. Beantown’s about a 45-minute drive south.

It has been quite an absence since The Phil last performed. Our world has been shaken by tragedy and then offered breakthroughs of hope to rise from those dark days. Our returning concert reflects those themes. From the powerful opening of Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, with its ensuing tender moments, to the contemplative and haunting Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, to the dark opening of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, through the beautiful French horn solo of its second movement, and then to its ending of hope and triumph, we are inspired to brighten your spirits.

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