On most Monday nights, an eclectic mix of more than 80 professionals piles into the community room at the Concord Community Music School, representing just about every major trade in the city.
During those few hours, though, the participants are recognized not for their vocation but rather their voice.
So listen up, because the Concord Chorale has plenty to say.
"I really do hope we're entering an age that will see the chorale become more integrated (in the community), so that more people are aware of us," Kristofer Johnson, the group's music director, said. "Sometimes I'm surprised people who have lived in Concord their whole lives don't really know anything about us."
To those who fall into that category, consider this your primer: The Concord Chorale has been in existence for more than four decades, serenading Concord with melodious aplomb in at least two annual concerts and a handful of other community appearances per year.
The group is a mixed ensemble more than 80 voices strong, with members hailing geographically from posts between northern Massachusetts and northern New Hampshire, all of whom gather once a week during the fall, winter and spring to hone their skills. (Coincidentally, the chorale is also responsible for one of the Insider's favorite photos of all time ... keep your eyes open for it to appear in an upcoming issue. Spoiler alert: the Insider is featured prominently.)
Perhaps the group's most interesting asset, though, is its diversity. The chorale may form one voice during performances, but there are more university degrees in the room at any given time than there are movements in Mozart's entire catalogue.
"It's a peculiarly-Concord mix of forestry managers and attorneys and doctors and teachers. It's a really powerful social community," Johnson said. "They work very hard to put on very good performances, and they take very seriously that sense of what they bring to Concord."
Jane McClung is a clinical psychologist by day, but she's been a proud chorale member for more than a year after shaking the rust from vocal cords that hadn't been exercised regularly since college.
"It's a really nice group feeling, the way a kind of thing happens when you work hard with other people," McClung said. "If you work really hard and as a result are creating something beautiful, it's really exhilarating."
McClung credits Johnson with creating a good deal of that excitement. He is entering his third season with the chorale, having spent a year as the interim director before assuming the official title prior to last season.
"His enthusiasm is really contagious," McClung said.
It was also responsible for a trip to Croatia this summer, a journey designed to resuscitate a long-standing chorale tradition that had fallen by the wayside - international performances. Johnson had traveled to Croatia twice before - first as a singer and later with his students at Proctor Academy, where he is the director of vocal and choral music.
More than 30 chorale members and family - the total roster was just below 50 - made the trek to Europe to perform three concerts, singing selections drawn from the last four concerts that included classical pieces, African-American spirituals and several contemporary pieces.
"The musical aspects were wonderful, but I think the real core of the tour in many ways was about outreach, taking music that is important to us to people in places we would never meet otherwise," Johnson said. "But maybe the most important part about a trip for a choir like this is what it builds in spirit within the group. People really get to know one another in a different way than they do in their Monday night rehearsals." (next page »)