It started with a Bach’s Lunch proposal. Vocalist and longtime CCMS faculty member Peggo Horstmann Hodes approached local Concord composer (and former faculty member) Bill Fletcher about featuring his music as a part of the monthly lunchtime concert series. Fletcher’s wife Margaret envisioned taking it a step further with a full evening concert and, together with Hodes, spearheaded the creation of the event taking place on January 20 at CCMS highlighting selections from Fletcher’s lifetime of work. It is especially fitting to have Fletcher featured early in a robust slate of concerts celebrating the Music School’s 40th anniversary in 2024, as Fletcher was CCMS founder Peggy Senter’s first faculty hire.
“I have long wanted to showcase the fabulous music of Bill Fletcher,” says Hodes. “I first sang Bill’s E.E. Cummings songs when he started writing nearly four decades ago. Now, thirty plus years later, they still transport and delight me as they did then, taking me on a musical journey that’s new each time.”
Faculty member and pianist Kathy Southworth echoes Hodes’ sentiments and is equally excited to be performing Fletcher’s works with her colleagues: “When I was introduced to his songs, I found them to be beautiful, meaningful, and accessible. They cover a wide array of musical ideas and emotions and range from humorous to dreamy to pulling on one’s heartstrings.”
The carefully constructed set list features both vocal and chamber music from various points during Fletcher’s composing career. The selection of vocal pieces was left largely up to the performers themselves, while Fletcher chose the instrumental pieces with an eye toward variety.
“The program includes songs which are among the first pieces I wrote, as well as the most current,” says Fletcher. “Most of these pieces wouldn’t exist without CCMS and the community I found there. Many were written on request for Music School colleagues and are specifically tailored to the tastes and abilities of their commissioner, as well as my affection for them.”
Fletcher is humbled to have his music performed by CCMS friends and faculty members including Hodes, Southworth, Calvin Herst, Stephanie Ratte Jenkins, Elizabeth Gunlogson, Jennifer Paris-Yeaton, and the Mosaic Ensemble. Fletcher notes that two of the performers, Hodes and Jenkins,
are responsible for the bulk of the concert’s repertoire: “Peggo’s is the voice I hear in my head when I’m creating songs and I love Stephanie’s beautifully expressive playing, as well as the committed care in her preparation, and I am grateful for her unwaveringly enthusiastic support and advice for my efforts. As a composer, I am always humbled and awestruck with the care and attention these performers give to presenting my music in its best light.”
The concert is titled What Can the Spirit Believe, an homage to a poem by Theodore Roethke (one of Fletcher’s favorite poets), and Fletcher invites the listener to make up their own mind as to how the title applies to what they hear.
“My hope for the performance is that both the audience and performers enjoy themselves, and maybe feel some of the pleasure and joy I had in writing this music.”
– Jeff Selesnick
As seating is limited, advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. Tickets for the January 20 concert may be purchased at 603-228-1196 or ccmusicschool.org/event/what-can-the-spirit-believe/