Entertainment Highlights: New Chorale Debuts

From left, Rebekah Schweitzer, Kristen Colwell, Olivia Kang, Patrick Yukman, and Jonathan May of the group Canta Chorale rehearse at Dartmouth College's Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hanover, N.H., on January 21, 2014. Canta Chorale is a group of singers who became friends while performing in the Handel Society of Dartmouth College, and will perform songs from the past four centuries at Dartmouth's Rollins Chapel on January 26, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson)

From left, Rebekah Schweitzer, Kristen Colwell, Olivia Kang, Patrick Yukman, and Jonathan May of the group Canta Chorale rehearse at Dartmouth College's Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hanover, N.H., on January 21, 2014. Canta Chorale is a group of singers who became friends while performing in the Handel Society of Dartmouth College, and will perform songs from the past four centuries at Dartmouth's Rollins Chapel on January 26, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »

Dartmouth College’s Handel Society, a town-gown choral group, has about 100 members, by Jonathan May’s estimation. And as much as the Dartmouth senior enjoys singing in the group, a few months ago he began to miss singing in smaller ensembles.

So he reached out to other Handel Society members with similar views, and they responded.

“Your voice gets kind of lost in the crowd of the chorus,” said Rebekah Schweitzer, a soprano, but in a smaller group, “you have to really take responsibility for the music, and it’s more demanding.

“The stakes are higher with this type of music, and that makes it more exciting,” she said.

The result of May’s recruiting — and an extremely compressed rehearsal schedule — is the Canta Chorale, an eight-person vocal group that will perform its free debut show at the college’s Rollins Chapel at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

May, a countertenor, said the group came together in late November and December of last year, and much of the learning of the 12 pieces for Sunday’s show was done by each singer alone. The approximately three weeks the group has rehearsed this month are the only three weeks it has ever rehearsed.

“I think it wouldn’t have been possible to do this, to perform in such a short time, if it weren’t for the caliber of the singers in the group,” May said.

That has allowed the group, which is made up of Dartmouth students and staff members, to quickly delve into the nuances of the music, he said, rather than spending much time getting the basics down.

Many of the songs to be sung in Sunday’s performance are pieces of early music, stretching back in some cases to the 17th century, and many of those are pieces of sacred music. As such, that became a sort of unofficial theme for the performance.

As the theme came organically, so did the actual makeup of the group. Initially, it was the Canta Quartet, with May, Schweitzer, alto Kristen Colwell and mezzo-soprano Olivia Kang. But as the quartet started to look for songs to perform, it realized eight members would be ideal for certain pieces.

And so tenors Benjamin Weinstock and Patrick Yukman, and basses Jimmy Ragan and Nick Tacke, were brought on board, as well as Richard Fu on organ and piano.

Kang said that at points the songs require all eight vocalists to sing separate parts. The stakes, Schweitzer said, are higher.

“We’re completely independent, even though we’re musically very dependent on each other,” Kang said.

Canta Chorale presents its debut vocal performance at Dartmouth’s Rollins Chapel at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The show is open to the public, and admission is free.

Best Bets

Tim Eriksen and The Trio de Pumpkintown play the music of the eponymous, fictional New England village, acoustic songs culled largely from the 18th and 19th centuries. They’ll bring that style to the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Advance adult tickets are $16, and can be reserved by calling 802-728-6464. Tickets on the day of the show are $19. Eriksen will also host a 90-minute shape-note singing workshop at 3 p.m. that day, for which tickets are $16 for adults.

∎ Lonnie Smith, funk musician and master of the Hammond B3 organ, will perform at the Hopkins Center for the Arts on Friday with his “In The Beginning” Octet. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show range from $17 to $40, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

Looking Ahead

Roots music artists Eric Bibb and Ruthie Foster will take the Chandler stage in Randolph together on Friday, Feb. 7 for a show called “Thanks for the Joy.” Tickets are $32 in advance for adults, and $35 on the day of the show. Student tickets are $20. They can be purchased at chandler-arts.org or by calling 802-728-6464.

Music

Bluegrass group The Gibson Brothers will perform at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction at 8 p.m. on Friday. Tickets are $26, and can be purchased from tupelohallvermont.com.

∎ On Saturday, Tupelo will host alternative rock band Sister Hazel for an acoustic performance. The show begins at 7 p.m., and tickets are $45. They can also be purchased from tupelohallvermont.com.

∎ The Cantabile Chorus, a women’s choral group with 19 members, will perform its show “Hope is the Thing” in Norwich and Lyme this weekend. Both Saturday’s show, at the Norwich Congregational Church, and Sunday’s, at the Lyme Congregational Church, begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, and children 13 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at Janet Flanders Travel in Norwich.

∎ Vocalist and trumpeter Christine Fawson will perform at Grantham’s Center at Eastman on Sunday as part of Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon. Adult tickets to the 4 p.m. show are $18, and can be purchased in advance by calling 603-763-8732 or emailing bill.wightman@comcast.net.

∎ The Upper Valley Community Band will put on “An Ode to Winter,” which combines marches, movie melodies and traditional band music, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Lebanon Opera House. Tickets are $8 for adults, and will be available at the door.

Theater

Puppet theater company Swazzle will present Dream Carver, a children’s play about a boy who carves the brightly colored animals he dreams out of wood, at the Lebanon Opera House today. The show is appropriate for children from kindergarten through grade 6, and begins at 10 a.m. Individual tickets are $6 for children and $10 for adults, and can be purchased by calling 603-448-0400.

∎ Pentangle Arts will present a showing of National Theatre Live’s The Habit of Art, originally broadcast in 2010, at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre tonight. It details a fictional meeting between musician Benjamin Britten and poet W.H. Auden. The show begins at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $20 for general admission. For more information go to pentanglearts.org.

Dances

Muskeg Music will present a contradance, starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Norwich’s Tracy Hall. Sheesham and Lotus will provide the night’s music, and Adina Gordon will call the dances. All will be taught beforehand. Admission is $8 for adults.

∎ The band Trip to Norwich will soundtrack English Country Dancing, also at Tracy Hall, on Sunday. Chris Levey will call the dances, which will go from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. All of the dances will be taught. Admission is $8 for adults.

Film

Vermont-based indie director Jay Craven recently released Northern Borders, a coming-of-age story set in the Green Mountain State, and it’ll make its way to the Hop for a 7 p.m. Saturday showing. The film stars Bruce Dern, currently nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role in N ebraska. Tickets are $9 for adults, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

∎ The Banff Mountain Film Festival, which focuses on movies based on mountain sports and culture, will return to the Lebanon Opera House for its 14th year on Wednesday. Films to be shown this year include Ready to Fly, about ski jumper Lindsey Van, and Keeper of the Mountains, about chronicler of Himalayan expeditions Elizabeth Hawley. The festival begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The show is sold out.

Bar and Club Circuit

Singer-songwriter Vance Gilbert will play at The Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille in New London tonight, starting at 8 p.m.

∎ Blues and rock group the Chris Fitz Band will play at Sunapee’s One Mile West, starting at 9 p.m. on Saturday. The next day, Upper Valley mainstay Brooks Hubbard will perform at the restaurant. That starts at 4 p.m.

∎ Brooks Hubbard will return to the Salt hill Pub in Lebanon on Friday. The next night, party rockers The Wheelers will play at the bar. Both shows begin at 9 p.m.

∎ Salt hill Hanover will welcome blues, rock and soul duo Will Michaels & Ben Butterworth to the pub on Friday, followed by Frydaddy frontman Carlos O’Casio on Saturday. Both shows are at 9 p.m.

∎ Modern rocker Sean Wyatt will play at the Salt hill Pub in Newport on Friday, starting at 9 p.m. At the same time on Saturday, Will Michaels & Ben Butterworth will make their return.

∎ Folk-pop musician Tad Dreis will play at Jesse’s in Hanover at 5 p.m. on Friday.

∎ Ted Mortimer and Billy Rosen will play guitar at the Canoe Club tonight, and Rosen will perform at the club again on Saturday. Four-man country band The Wall-Stiles will play on Sunday evening, Bob Lucier will perform on Tuesday and Cyn Barrette and Alki Steriopoulis will offer jazz piano and vocals on Wednesday. In all cases, the music starts at 7 p.m.

∎ Guitarist Doc Rogers will play at the Sunapee Community Coffee House starting at 7 p.m. on Friday. Liz Kantz will join Rogers for some extra vocals.

∎ Nashville recording artist Clay Canfield brings his talents to the River Stones Tavern in Quechee on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 8 p.m. He also performs at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock on Sundays, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

∎ Bluegrass group Hot Mustard will visit Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern for a show at 9 p.m. on Friday.

∎ Roots rock group the Ron Noyes Band will perform at New Socials in Claremont at 8 p.m. on Friday.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

∎ Salt hill Pub in Hanover runs an open mic hosted by Chad Gibbs on Mondays at 7 p.m.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎ Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. It’s on Mondays, starting at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Wednesdays, beginning at 8 p.m.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242. Send Highlights to Highlights@vnews.com.