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Highlights: Hartland Native Finds a Niche in Early Music

  • Soprano Kendra Comstock sings works of Bach, Mozart, Handel, Rameau and Purcell on Oct. 20, 2018, at 7 p.m. at Damon Hall in Hartland, Vt. (Courtesy photograph)

  • Clarinetist Steve Loew, right, and pianist Daniel Weiser play "Jewish Jazz" in performances this weekend as part of the ongoing Classicopia series of concerts. See 'Music' for more information. (Courtesy photograph)



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, October 18, 2018

The first time Kendra Comstock sang for an audience at Damon Hall in her native Hartland, she needed more than a little encouragement just to show up.

Then her friends nagged and all but dragged her onto the stage.

“I was in, like, fifth grade,” Comstock, now in her early 20s, recalled this week. “I hadn’t sung in about five years. Even though I loved music, loved singing, I didn’t want to sing in front of people. By the time I was middle-school age, my friends were all doing theater and choir and I got peer pressured. Once I got out there, I think that was the pivotal moment. I was so nervous, but when I went out, I went, like, ‘I love this. That was so much fun. I want to keep doing this.’”

Comstock returns to Damon Hall on Saturday night as a seasoned soprano: ready, willing and more than able to sing works of Bach, Mozart, Handel, Rameau and Purcell in a recital benefiting Hartland Community Arts.

“A lot of my motivation was to give back to HCA,” Comstock said. “They helped me fund my time at both the Madison Early Music Festival and the Amherst Early Music Festival. … The Amherst festival was really the first time I had been immersed in early music and it shifted my focus to this genre.”

Comstock sang in several genres during her last four years at Hartland Elementary, and then four more at Hanover High School. In addition to performing with choirs, she sang in musicals for Hartland Elementary’s acting company, for the high school’s Footlighters troupe and for North Country Community Theatre.

“When I was a freshman (at HHS), I went with the choir to Carnegie Hall, where we sang Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem,” Comstock said. “Then when I was a senior, we traveled to France and sang at Notre Dame Cathedral. … “In NCCT we did Anything Goes, The Music Man and Bye Bye, Birdie, and I never really got over it. I got used to putting myself out there.”

Thus emboldened, Comstock began pursuing her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at Oklahoma City University, and soon found herself joining the school’s Early Music Ensemble as its first vocalist. And after graduation, in 2017, she moved to Boston to teach singing at a private academy, Music 101, and found early-music ensembles with which she continues to hone her craft. Between lessons and performances, she’s been applying to graduate schools to continue her studies.

During the past summer’s break, Comstock sang a few duets at the Hartland’s Unitarian Universalist Church with fellow soprano Chiho Kaneko, the president of Hartland Community Arts.

“It was through Chiho that I got inspired,” Comstock said. “I knew I would have to get a lot of songs ready to audition for the master’s programs, anyway, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try them out. She wanted to help me put myself out there and perform all these works.”

On the theme of “Eternal Source of Light Divine,” soprano Kendra Comstock and pianist Jeanne Chambers perform baroque and early classical songs at Damon Hall in Hartland. Admission is by donation to Hartland Community Arts.

Best Bets

Old Church Theater in Bradford, Vt., rounds out its 2018 season by staging the romantic drama With This Ring over the next two weekends at its temporary venue on Waits River Road, next to Farm-Way. Performances of the play, which explores the role of a wedding ring in the lives of four couples over nearly a century, begin Friday night at 7:30 and run through Oct. 28. For tickets ($6 to $12) and for more information, email reservations@oldchurchtheater.org or call 802-222-3322.

■On the theme of “Turn Turn Turn!” the Hudson River Valley-based Vanaver Caravan performs folk music and dance at Randolph’s Chandler Music Hall on Friday night at 7, as part of its tour in celebration of the approaching centenary of the birth of composer-troubabour-activist Pete Seeger. To reserve tickets ($27 to $42) and learn more, visit chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-6464.

■The Conniption Fits, Sensible Shoes and Don Glasgo’s Rusty Berrings Brass Band take turns serenading the second annual celebration at the Rusty Berrings Skatepark in West Lebanon on Sunday from noon to 4. Admission is free to the celebration of the life of Rusty Berrings, aka Tyler Kirschner. Refreshments include hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza.

■Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Youssou N’Dour leads his Afro-pop band into Dartmouth College’s Spaulding Auditorium on Tuesday night at 7. N’Dour’s music blends folk rhythms of his native Senegal with Cuban-flavored jazz and funk. For tickets ($17 to $50) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

Looking Ahead

Greater Boston’s Classic Repertory Company will stage a kid-focused adaptation of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm at Randolph’s Chandler Music Hall next Thursday morning at 10. To reserve tickets and learn more, visit chandler-arts.org.

Theater/Performance Art

Northern Stage continues its production of the epistolary drama Dear Elizabeth with six performances over the coming week, starting this afternoon at 2 at the Barrette Center for the Arts in White River Junction. Meanwhile, the company finishes its run of the historical drama Oslo with four shows this weekend, starting Friday night at 7:30. For tickets to and information about these and upcoming plays, visit northernstage.org or call 802-296-7000.

■The ArtisTree Music Theatre Festival lowers the curtain on its production of Suds: The Rocking ’60s Musical Soap Opera this weekend, starting tonight at 7:30, at the Grange Theatre in South Pomfret. To reserve tickets ($28 to $35) and learn more, visit artistreevt.org or call 802-457-3500.

■The Parish Players complete their staging of Duncan Nichols’ time-traveling drama Silvia and Mary at Sea this weekend, starting tonight at 7:30 at the Eclipse Grange on Thetford Hill and ending with a matinee on Sunday afternoon at 3. For tickets ($12 to $15) and more information, visit parishplayers.org or call 802-785-4344.

■The BarnArts Center for the Arts wraps its run of Mel Brooks’ Tony Award-winning musical comedy The Producers this weekend, starting Friday night at 7:30 in Woodstock’s Town Hall Theatre. For tickets ($18 to $26) and more information, visit barnarts.org or call 802-234-1645.

■The World Under Wonder troupe stages Sappho’s Thread, a mix of poetry, music and magic, on Sunday afternoon at 1 in its studios at 5755 U.S. Route 5 in Weathersfield. Admission is $10. Parental guidance is recommended, for a performance that includes some nudity.

Music

The Decatur Creek roots quartet plays the Sunapee Community CoffeeHouse on Friday night at 7. Admission is by donation.

■On the theme of “Return of the Jewdi,” clarinetist Steve Loew and Classicopia pianist Daniel Weiser explore the links between jazz and klezmer music in the works of Bernstein, Gershwin and Goodman, at three Upper Valley venues this weekend, starting Friday at 7:30 at Windsor’s Old South Church. Subsequent shows are scheduled for Saturday night at 7:30 at the First Congregational Church of Lebanon and on Sunday afternoon at 2 at Dartmouth College’s Roth Center for Jewish life in Hanover. To reserve tickets ($18) and learn more, visit classicopia.org.

■Classical guitarist Christopher Schoelen plays the Upper Gallery of the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph on Saturday night at 7:30. To reserve seats and learn more, visit chandler-arts.org or call 802-728-6464.

■ Pomfret-native multi-instrumentalist Tristan Henderson and his Pete’s Posse bandmates play roots music at the Seven Stars Arts Center in Sharon on Friday night at 8. Tickets at the door cost $20. To learn more, visit sevenstarsarts.org.

■The Dartmouth College Wind Ensemble performs works of Leonard Bernstein on Saturday night at 8 at Spaulding Auditorium in Hanover, as part of the Hopkins Center’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. For tickets ($9 to $12) and more information, visit hop.dartmouth.edu or call 603-646-2422.

■Bruce and Jayn Keller lead a gospel sing-a-long at Beaver Meadow Chapel in Norwich on Sunday afternoon at 3, as a fundraiser for the Beaver Meadow Schoolhouse Community Center. Admission is by donation.

■Fiddler Beth Telford, oboist-flutist Chris Rua, the Celtic duo of Rachel Clark and Bob DeMarco, and singer-guitarist Rory Loughran join students of Sharon’s Seven Stars Arts Center on Sunday afternoon at 4, in performing a variety show benefiting the center’s education programs. Admission is by donation at the door.

■The Vermont Bach Ensemble performs Elizabethan and baroque love songs at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret on Sunday afternoon at 4. Admission is by donation to the equine-assisted mental health programs of MoonRise Therapeutics.

Dance

The Burlington-based Jeh Kulu ensemble stages two free performances of West African dance and drumming at two Upper Valley venues on Saturday, the first at 11 in the morning at Dartmouth College’s Alumni Hall in Hanover. The troupe also performs at the CSB Community Center in Claremont at 3 in the afternoon. To learn more, visit hop.dartmouth.edu.

Film

The Hopkins Center and Community Access Television screen the award-winning movies from their seventh annual Halloween-O-Thon competition for Upper Valley filmmakers on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Loew Auditorium in Hanover. Both sessions, free and open to the public, start at 7. To learn more about the competition, visit catv8.org.

Bar and Club Circuit

The Road Home trio performs a mix of original songs and classic rock and pop at the Peyton Place Restaurant in Orford tonight at 6.

■The folk trio Never Too Late pulls into Windsor Station tonight at 7. Turner Round rocks the house at 9 on Friday night and the Dark Star Project plays tribute to the Grateful Dead on Saturday night at 9.

■The Soule Monde funk duo of Hammond B3 organist Ray Paczkowski and drummer Russ Lawton performs at the Flying Goose Brewpub and Grille in New London tonight at 8. To reserve tickets ($20) and learn more, visit flyinggoose.com or call 603-526-6899.

■Singer-songwriter Rebecca Haviland leads her band Whiskey Heart into The Skinny Pancake in Hanover on Friday night at 7:30. Singer-songwriter Matt Seiple performs Saturday night at 7:30.

■The Lefty Unger Blues Band plays Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners on Friday night at 9.

■Rocker Chris Powers performs at Salt hill Pub in downtown Lebanon on Friday night at 9, and the oldies cover group Better Days appears on Saturday night at 9.

■Singer-songwriter Amanda McCarthy plays Salt hill Pub in West Lebanon on Friday night at 9, and FLEW-Z frontman Alec Currer performs a set of acoustic rock and pop on Saturday night at 9.

■Doug Lantz plays ukelele and tells stories at Newport’s Salt hill Pub on Friday night at 9.

■ Wendigo performs rock and blues at the Salt hill Pub in Hanover on Saturday night at 9.

■Pianist Sonny Saul plays jazz at the On the River Inn in Woodstock on Saturday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 9.

■Singer-songwriter Rory Loughran takes the microphone at the Public House in Quechee on Saturday night from 7 to 10.

■ Soulfix performs during the end-of-summer party at SILO Distillery in Windsor on Sunday afternoon between 1 and 4.

■Saxophonist Michael Parker and guitarist Norm Wolfe play jazz at the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm on Wednesday night at 6.

Open Mics

String players of all ages and abilities are welcome at the weekly acoustic jam session at South Royalton’s BALE Commons on Friday night from 6:30 to 10.

■Joe Stallsmith leads his weekly hootenanny of Americana, folk and bluegrass on Monday night at 6 at Salt hill Pub in Hanover.

■Fiddler Jakob Breitbach leads an acoustic jam session of bluegrass, Americana and old-timey music on Tuesday nights at 7 at The Filling Station Bar and Grill in White River Junction.

■Tom Masterson hosts an open mic at Colatina Exit in Bradford, Vt., on Tuesday nights at 8.

■Woodstock musician Jim Yeager hosts an open mic on Wednesday night at 8 at the Skunk Hollow Tavern in Hartland Four Corners.

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304. Entertainment news also can be sent to highlights@vnews.com.

Correction

There will be no Corinth Coffeehouse this weekend. A performance was listed in error in an earlier version of this  column.