We at PARMA have the great fortune of not only working with top-notch artists around the world, but also having quality music in our own backyard. We have a flourishing local scene, with ensembles like the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra celebrating over 20 successful years of performance, Portsmouth Pro Musica gracing the area’s vocal music scene, and OURBIGBAND keeping the traditions of the big band jazz orchestra alive. The Music Hall fills seats for events from orchestral performances to speaking engagements, 3S Artspace welcomes in visual artists and musicians from disciplines across the board, and the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center has helped to build an artistic community through education.

The PARMA Music Festival has supported all of these institutions in one way or another over the years, and this fall there is a new one to add to the list. On October 20th, pianist Paul Dykstra and the Great Bay Philharmonic Orchestra will deliver the ensemble’s inaugural performance at the Music Hall in historic Portsmouth NH. Dykstra and the Great Bay Philharmonic will join with the local music scene by performing a program featuring Tchaikovsky’s famous Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, among other works. The PARMA Music Festival, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing new music to new listeners, is excited to be supporting this event as part of its ongoing commitment to the Seacoast music scene.


Pianist Paul Dykstra. Source: The Music Hall

This concert, alongside the general growth of the Seacoast arts scene, is promising for classical music in today’s culture. Here’s why.

  1. New classical ensembles are on the rise, and the seats of both performers and audiences are being filled. With numerous music newspapers and labels shutting their doors and funding for music and art programs often the first to be cut in school budgets, it might seem that classical music is facing a rough road ahead. Nevertheless, classical ensembles are still being formed, and audience’s seats are still being filled. The Great Bay Philharmonic, established in 2018, is one of many flourishing orchestras in New Hampshire alone. Interest in performing classical music continues to grow – as does interest in attending classical performances. Support from groups such as the PARMA Music Festival is a vote of confidence in the classical music scene and the wider idea that a music culture is vital for a healthy community.
  2. The prominence of the Music Hall in the Seacoast, and its recent transformations, speaks to the vital role music plays within a community. With a 140-year history that has seen both growth and moments of uncertainty that almost led to demolition, the Music Hall currently holds a position of prominence in the New England arts scene. Not to mention, in the past couple years the Hall has experienced an impressive facelift, with the installation of a marquee, beautification of the exterior of the building, and the addition of a landmark archway above the street that guides concertgoers to the theater. These significant improvements show that the arts are worth investing in, because they matter within a community. The introduction of a new ensemble in the newly-freshened theater speaks to this truth.
  3. To extend from that, the performance demonstrates how the community continues to rally around the presence of music in the Seacoast. None more than the PARMA Music Festival. Since its inception in 2013, the 501(c)3 non-profit PARMA Music Festival has dedicated itself to presenting new, innovative, and enjoyable music spanning classical, jazz, electronic, experimental, and more in venues from New York City to Havana Cuba and beyond. Its overarching goal is to introduce new musicians performing new music to new audiences, and in many ways this performance at the Music Hall fits the bill.As PARMA Recordings CEO and PARMA Music Festival founder Bob Lord stated in an interview with the Music Hall, “Society is a fragile thing. The social contract we all communally enter needs to be perpetually maintained, ceaselessly supported, and enduringly reinforced with persistent care and attention, and the same is true of the institutions, businesses, and people who collectively make us who we are.” Music and community are mutually dependent on one another. Music helps to define a community, and is also meant to be shared from person to person. The Great Bay Philharmonic’s performance acknowledges this by providing the community with a show that is easily accessible, inviting, and enriching.

So, this concert is happening Saturday, October 20th at 8:00pm. If you are in the Portsmouth area, you have a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the care of your community through the arts. If you aren’t, we encourage you to follow the efforts of both the PARMA Music Festival and the Music Hall. And support your local community by finding a concert in your own neighborhood to attend.


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