What do you get when you put 24 children, ages 6-14, in a big room in Hancock, NH together with a top-notch pianist and a renowned children's conductor?
The irrepressible, irresistible, surprisingly excellent Norway Pond Junior Minstrels, fondly known as the Junior Mints!
These kids pull off some amazing feats, under the visionary tutelage of their conductor, Jody Hill Simpson, founder and artistic director emerita of the acclaimed Boston-based PALS Children's Chorus, and assisted by one of the region's top pianists, Mary Ann Fleming.
They meet for two sessions during the school year, one in late October, November and December and the other in March, April and early May. Regular rehearsals are on Tuesday afternoons with additional ones scheduled as the performance approaches.
Their wide age-range makes them unique among children's choruses, bringing satisfying and surprising depth to their performances.
In the fall, they sing...and my goodness, what fine singing they do! They learn all of the important vocal skills, including breathing, well-pronounced vowels and consonants, dynamics, attacks, releases... brought to an exciting climax for the Hancock Family Christmas Concert. Most importantly, the children experience the joy that comes from the power they feel when they connect meaningfully with the audience.
In the spring, they reconvene and put on a musical production- Honk, Wizard of Oz and 1776 the past three years. The singing skills learned during the fall session are brought to bear, and these shows have awed the audience, many of whom are not even related to the kids. People come because the shows have become legendary must-sees in the region!