As the Music School celebrates its
30th anniversary season
we're shining the spotlight on
a founding faculty member,
an alumnus, and a supporter.
Founding Faculty Member
As a jazz guitarist, David Tonkin has learned to see connections everywhere. Maybe that's why a conversation with him includes plenty of analogies.
"Jazz is a lot like cooking," he says. "You have a frying pan. That's the tune. And you'll start with some olive oil, garlic, and onions. And then you look around and say, ooh, some mushrooms would be good. Maybe some hot peppers. That's how you approach a song when you're playing jazz. 'What are we going to put in here?'"
Tonkin, chair of the Music School's Jazz Department, says it's this sense of spontaneous creativity that drew him to the music he teaches and performs.
When he started taking jazz guitar lessons, he says he "learned how to learn," seeing the links between musical concepts. "You're learning about scales and chords, you're learning songs, and at some point you see it's all connected."
Now Tonkin sees his students making those same connections, learning to think musically and converting that knowledge into successful careers in music, medicine, engineering, architecture -- myriad professions too numerous to mention.
Above all, Tonkin says, it's the human connection that he loves about his work: connecting with students, with musicians, and with an audience through music. "That's the best thing about jazz," he says. "Your job is to connect."
From Bebop to Hip-Hop:
Jazz Bassist Scott Kiefner
When he was six years old, Scott Kiefner began taking piano lessons at the Concord Community Music School. Now he's taking the stage alongside his mentors David Tonkin and Don Williams to perform in the School's Jazz in January concert.
"It's hard to overstate the role that the Music School has had in my life," he says. "It's pretty huge." Kiefner's family has been part of the Music School community for more than thirty years, when his mother was among the School's first piano students.
Now an in-demand bassist with an active performance and recording schedule, Kiefner says his road to professional musicianship began early on. While he was studying jazz bass and playing in the Scholarship Jazz Ensemble at the Music School, his teachers invited him to join them for gigs, and pushed him to explore new musical styles.
"That was something they emphasized: being comfortable in multiple genres," says Kiefner. "As a professional, you need to be able to do everything." Don Williams, his bass teacher, encouraged him to take classical music seriously -- join an ensemble, audition for All-State.
During his college years, Kiefner delved into jazz while absorbing new sounds like electro-acoustic music, spectral music, and modern classical music. Meanwhile he was performing regularly in Montreal. "Montreal is a happening city for music, so I was going out to see shows all the time, playing in folk rock bands, jazz bands, hip-hop groups."
This outside-the-box artistry has characterized Kiefner's musicallife, and has shaped him into the unique and versatile jazz musician that he is now. Whether it's bebop or hip-hop, R&B or rockabilly, Kiefner says, "Diversity makes you better."
Remembering Joan Farrel
by Peggy Senter
CCMS president and founder
Joan Farrel knew how to give, and she also knew how to give a great party.
The Music School lost one of its very best friends when Joan passed away last month. I'll share just a few of many warm memories here, gathered from recent remembrances by faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and friends.
As one of New Hampshire's leading philanthropists, Joan gave generously of her resources and her indomitable spirit. She left her philanthropic mark on many cultural organizations, from the North Country Chamber Players to the Concord City Auditorium to the Penacook Branch of the Concord Public Library.
Joan invested in a brand new organization -- the Music School -- with her first gift in 1986. She quickly became the leadership individual donor for two capital campaigns and every Annual Fund for more than 20 years. Thanks to the steadfast generosity of these gifts, the Music School truly owes to Joan the strong growth and longevity of its first 30 years. She defined leadership giving, as an ambassador for philanthropy who proudly shared the news of her support to inspire other major gifts. From my and my non-profit colleagues' perspective, that's a distinctive element of Joan's "how-to-give"-she loved making a difference and was a leader in inspiring others to follow her example.
Most of our memories, however, are about how much she enjoyed giving a great party. "Don't you think the faculty would like to have a retreat at my home in Sugar Hill?" she asked me in 1989. Skeptical that any busy musicians would volunteer two days away, I was proven so wrong. As we swam in her pool overlooking the mountains, enjoyed amazing meals and luxurious lodging, and yes, shared professional expertise and planned future directions for the school, one colleague said, "Of course we all came -- this level of respect and appreciation for me as a working musician is so unusual." Soon thereafter, she began hosting our Donors' Garden Party, which for many years was in Joan's beautiful garden. Both traditions continue until this day, still shaped by her high standards and joy in bringing together the Music School family.
We will tell more stories and celebrate a remarkable life at a memorial service on January 29 at 1:30 pm at the Music School. The service will begin in the Recital Hall and move to the Community Room, which is marked by a sign reading "Gift of Joan Farrel." It's where community, friendship, parties, and philanthropy come together -- Joan's inspiring legacy of leadership.
Scholarship Vocal Ensemble
Performs at the Statehouse
From left to right: Della Dolcino, Thomas Hassan, Mike Webb, Governor Hassan, Tyler Shore, Hannah Miller, Hannah Murray, Malia Lundahl, Sierra Bickford
The Scholarship Vocal Ensemble filled the Legislative Chambers with their performance of "Jubilate Deo" at Governor Maggie Hassan's inauguration.
Register for the Music School's
It's not too late to sign up for CCMS's spring semester! From classical to classic rock, early childhood programs to ensembles, flutes to fiddles, there are many ways to be part of the CCMSmusical community. We hope you'll join us!