Sunday, June 2, 2013

Music with a Mission: Great music supports local causes by Elizabeth Richards

A concert series sponsored by the North Windham Union Church offers members of the community an opportunity to enjoy a variety of high quality musical performances by area talent, while also contributing to local charitable causes.

Jim McBride, chair of the Music with a Mission committee, said inspiration for the series came after the church hosted a concert by Ithacapella, a men’s a capella group from Ithaca College which includes Windham High School graduate Chris Frost. “They packed the place,” said McBride. “It was full of energy, hope and love for terrific music. “ McBride said this concert inspired an idea. If they could get that many people to attend a concert, why not do it every month? Thus, a concert series was born, to support both the church and the programs in the community.

The Music with a Mission committee works hard to promote the concerts through word of mouth, an email list, their website and a Facebook page. “By necessity we’ve been forced to try to keep the advertising low,” said McBride. They are, however, confident that word is getting out.

Though there is no formal benchmark or measuring stick, the series is going well, especially considering that it was put together in just about 30 days, said NWUC Minister of Music Dr. Richard Nickerson. “Our concerts have certainly been successful, especially that first one. We didn’t know what we were getting into, and we just hoped people would show up.” And they did, with close to 180 people attending the first show. The church can hold 300 people, and McBride hopes that some of the upcoming shows will have a full house.

There have been three concerts in the series to date. In addition to raising funds for the church, these three concerts have raised over $1,300 to support local charities. The entertainers for the evening select which local nonprofit will be the beneficiary.

The first concert, An Evening of Bluegrass, benefitted Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors. The second concert, featuring The Squid Jiggers, went to support the Natural Resource Council of Maine’s “Clean Air, Clean Energy,” project. The Bellamy Jazz Band played at the latest concert, held on Saturday, May 25th. The Lewiston Fire Relief Fund, which provides support to families displaced by the recent fires in Lewiston, was the recipient of the funds from this concert. The United Way of Androscoggin County was on hand to speak about the program, and also urged attendees to join their ongoing efforts to combat hunger in Maine, by donating food to local food pantries in their communities.

Though the performers choose the charity, Nickerson said that the goal is to keep these donations local. He added that the selected organization is also given an opportunity to come and share information about their program to those in attendance.

Both McBride and Nickerson are encouraged by the fact that when looking out at the audiences in attendance, there are plenty of people in attendance who are not from the church. “That’s what we want; to bring people in, give them a great evening of music, raise a little money, and expose them to the great work that’s going on in the church,” said McBride.

There are concerts scheduled through October, and the series will continue for as long as there’s energy around it, said McBride. “There’s no shortage of talent. We’ve got a long, long list of entertainers and performers that we would love to have come and showcase their stuff,” he said. “Windham has a community-wide passion for music,” he added. “The challenge for us, frankly, might be finding weekends that we’re not stomping on somebody else’s show.”

The next concert on the schedule is The Milltown Road Show on Friday, June 28. There are five concerts currently scheduled, with more to be added. The current concert schedule and ticket information can be found on the series’ website, The committee can be contacted at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your Comments Help Improve Your Community.