Monadnock Music (Peterborough, NH)

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Church building on a sunny day, framed by trees

The Jeffrey Center Meetinghouse, site of many of the free concerts offered by Monadnock Music of Peterborough, New Hampshire, in 2003. Photo by Dale Carruth

Monadnock Music first began in 1966 by presenting five free concerts in the church of tiny Nelson, New Hampshire. Today the organization programs more than 30 summer concerts annually in more than 15 rural locations in southwestern New Hampshire, most of which are offered free to the public.

In FY 2003, Monadnock Music received an NEA Creativity grant of $10,000 to support 18 free concerts, or more than three free concerts a week, throughout July and August 2003. Under the direction of James Bolle, Monadnock Music presented an impressive variety of genres and programming, ranging from Renaissance polyphony to contemporary composer Elliott Carter in the form of chamber music concerts, solo recitals, orchestra concerts, and opera productions. True to its mission of bringing the highest quality music to the rural Monadnock region, highlights of the 2003 season included performances by the New Zealand String Quartet, La Luna Ensemble, pianist Russell Sherman, and tenor Steven Tharp.

In addition to the free concerts and quality programming, Monadnock Music also tries to reach new audiences by offering concerts in more familiar and informal locations, such as town halls, meetinghouses, and churches. Free “rug concerts” are also offered, encouraging children to sit next to the stage on oriental rugs and observe the musicians up close. Nearly 3,000 area residents attended the free concerts offered by Monadnock Music in 2003.

(From the 2003 NEA Annual Report)