After a two-year hiatus, SPS welcomed visitors to its renowned concert series.
If Nicholas White sounds exceptionally effusive about the pair of Keiser Concerts that took place in the St. Paul’s School Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul during Spring Term, it’s with good reason. It was the first time in more than two years — since February 2020 — that the School has been able to open the Chapel to outside visitors for its longstanding concert series.
“It felt really good to be able to do that again — really good,” says White, the School’s director of Chapel music and organist. “Especially because you felt the energy not just of the marvelous performances, but also of people who had been wanting this to happen.”
Since the 1980s, the Keiser Concert Series has offered free public performances by global musical artists in styles that range from classical to contemporary, supported by an endowed fund that allows for five or six visiting artists per year. The series returned on April 26 with a performance by Stile Antico, a U.K. based 12-member vocal ensemble that performed a program titled “Toward the Dawn.” That program was followed on April 29 with a piano concert by New Hampshire-born musician Matthew Odell that featured works by Beethoven, Ravel and others.
In addition to the public performances, both visits offered opportunities for SPS students to work directly with the artists. During the morning of April 27, Stile Antico put on a workshop with members of the SPS Chapel Choir. Three SPS piano students — Ke Nicole Hu ’22, Dolan Kou ’24 and Ally Hu ’25 — worked with Odell the afternoon after his concert, with additional SPS music students in attendance.
White took on the job of directing the Keiser Concert Series in 2012. Prior to his tenure, Keiser concerts had been held in the School’s music building and emphasized chamber music, but as director of Chapel music, White was interested in leveraging the Chapel space as a performance venue. He also emphasized expanding the types of artists that the series brought to the grounds. “That’s proven to be quite popular,” he says, noting that he maintains a long list of individuals in the greater Concord area who have been regular series attendees over the years. “This series is a great outreach tool for us.”
There were some 75–80 guests from outside SPS who attended the Stile Antico performance, White estimates, and roughly the same number who came to hear Matthew Odell. The final public performance of the school year will take place on May 29 — a farewell organ concert by outgoing Associate Director of Chapel Music Mary Dolch. White is already looking ahead to 2022–23, with the Apple Hill String Quartet booked for October and a series of chamber music ensembles planned for January.