Curtain Call: The Monadnock Region Arts Scene Revels in a Summer Return

After a year marked by shuttered venues, dark marquees and silent stages, the performance arts scene in the Monadnock Region is making a much-awaited comeback. As summer 2021 deepens, we eagerly anticipate the encore of dress rehearsals and mic checks as the curtain is once again raised and the spotlight returns on our favorite musicians and performers.

For those excited to take their seats in the audience, there is plenty to watch and hear this summer, both indoors and outdoors. Here is a sampling of the venues and musical performers that have released summer events calendars:

Adapting quickly for summer 2021 with an unexpected yet exciting new indoor venue, Peterborough Folk Music is back with an inspiring lineup of musicians. All concerts will take place this season at the Spinning Room in the Granite Mill at 71 Main St., in Harrisville.

Peterborough Folk Music header

July and August folk shows include Mark Erelli with side-man Zachariah Hickman, Patchouli & Terra Guitarra, Bill Staines, and two chances to see Cheryl Wheeler perform with Kenny White. Ticket prices range from $20-$45 and concerts will be limited to 70 ticket holders.

The Peterborough Players recently released dates for what they’ve coined as their “Grand Restart, 2021” in August and September. This historic and incredibly well-renowned theatre will celebrate the joy of coming together again as the curtain goes up on a limited number of shows.

Building where the Peterborough Players' performances are held

Peterborough Players Theatre

A perennial favorite written by Peterborough’s prodigal son Thornton WIlder, “Our Town” will be presented August 4-15 in downtown Peterborough. “Beehive: The 60s Musical” will be performed on the new Elsewhere Stage at Peterborough Players from August 18-29. And the U.S. premiere of a new Canadian play, “Where You Are,” is on tap for September 1-12. Curtain Up! passes are now available and single tickets go on sale July 16.

Monadnock Music‘s 2021 concert series will also pivot in response to the pandemic and will take place outdoors at various venues across the region. Many shows are free, open to the public, and are BYOC—bring your own chair.

Musicians under a tent with masked spectators listening on a bench

Photo provided by Monadnock Music

A sampling of planned shows include: Listen & Lunch on July 8 in Peterborough, Milford Village Concert on July 10, Marlborough Village Concert on July 17, and Hancock Village Concert on July 24. In August, village concerts continue in Francestown, Nelson, and Jaffrey. Special ticketed events are also scheduled throughout the summer but sell out quickly, so seats should be reserved online early.

People seated in an auditorium listening to a musical performance

Photo provided by Monadnock Music from a previous season

In Nelson, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music is a summertime staple, marking its 50th anniversary in 2021. The 2021 Summer Concert Series will be held virtually this year for health and safety considerations and the Apple Hill campus will remain closed to the public this summer.

Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music logo

The series will feature weekly performances through August 17 by the Apple Hill String Quartet and Summer Chamber Music Workshop faculty artists and alumni. Concerts will stream Tuesdays at 7:30 pm and will also be available afterwards on YouTube and Facebook. These virtual events are being graciously offered free of charge, but donations to help support the musicians are welcome.

Now in its 52nd season, the Monadnock Summer Lyceum will also remain virtual this summer as it continues its mission “to inform, engage, and inspire” with eight planned speakers. The speaker series saw an amazing 3,600-plus views in 2020 and is embracing this time of transition as an opportunity to reach even more people via online means.

Logo for Summer Lyceum with mountain mpeaks in background

Musicians will set the stage at 10:45 am for each Sunday morning presentation. Speakers and topics for July include: Hanz Araki—”An Introduction to Kinkō Ryū Shakuhachi” on July 4, Heather Cox Richardson—“What Can History Tell Us About the Present?” on July 11, Joseph Nye—“Do Morals Matter in Foreign Policy?” on July 18, and Ellen Stofan—“Searching for Life Beyond Earth: Moving from Science Fiction to Science Fact” on July 25. An additional three speakers round out August, with no presentation on August 8, MacDowell Medal Day. Note that due to the lingering effects of COVID-19, the McDowell Colony will not be open to the public for the medal celebration this year.

Speaker at Monadnock Lyceum from previous in-person years

Photo provided by Monadnock Summer Lyceum, from a previous year’s in-person lecture series

Ashuelot Concerts will hold an Encore Festival over 10 days in July this summer, offering three special concerts to celebrate the return of live music. The festival begins July 1 with Haydn & Tchaikovsky Trios, continues July 7 with Romantic Violin Works, and concludes July 10 with Smetana & Mendelssohn.

All concerts will take place in the historic Marlborough House, 9 Ling St., in Marlborough. Passes are now available for all three concerts at a cost of $80 for adults and $70 for seniors or single tickets are also available at varying costs. Youth tickets are complimentary.

Concert at Marlborough House

Marlborough House concert – photo provided by Ashuelot Concerts

Electric Earth Concerts will also resume an in-person concert series for summer 2021. Music will once again burst forth in venues such as Jaffrey Meetinghouse and Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough. Ticket holders can join the musicians inside, remaining socially distanced with only 25 indoor tickets available to each event, subject to increase through the summer. Attendees are also welcome to bring a chair and picnic to listen for free outside each venue via an enhanced sound system.

Three female musicians, with musical instruments

Aureole Trio (Laura Gilbert, Mary Hammann, Stacey Shames), photo provided by Electric Earth Concerts

The lineup of summer shows includes Hanz Araki on Celtic flute and Shakuhachi on July 4, the Horszowski Trio on July 14, the Neave on July 26, David Breitman (fortepiano): Mostly Mozart on August 2, David McCarroll: Bach solo works for violin on August 15, and Schubert Quintet in C on August 17. Most shows are $30.

Three musicians - the Horszowski Trio

The Horszowski Trio, photo provided by Electric Earth Concerts

Sounds on the Souhegan, the town of Milford’s Summer Concert Series is still finalizing its summer 2021 schedule of performers. Last season, concerts were held Wednesdays at 7 pm at Emerson Park. Likewise, many of the region’s other towns will host concerts throughout the summer months where the joy-filled notes of resilient town bands and local musicians will once more ring through downtown commons and across nighttime skies.

For a current listing of events and schedules, visit the websites of these venues — new performances keep being added. Enjoy the musical, theatrical, and cultural opportunities that the Monadnock region offers this summer.

Editor’s note: Blog was written by a guest writer, photos were provided by the featured venues, and the blog was formatted and posted by Susan Karalekas.

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