Windham church concert has ‘mission’

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WINDHAM – The Music with a Mission concert series hosted by the North Windham Union Church presents “Broadway and Beyond” at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 13.

Singers Emily Cain, Kelly Caufield and Matthew Small, with accompanying pianist Laura Artesani and special guest Jameson McBride, will join together to raise money for Special Olympics Maine.

Saturday’s concert marks the fifth show in the inaugural year of Music with a Mission. The series features an eclectic mix of performers, with ticket proceeds benefitting the church and local charities selected by the musicians.

“I think part of our vision was that we would have concerts that became almost social experiences for people, just the experience of seeing who’s there,” said Richard Nickerson, minister of music at North Windham Union Church and Music with a Mission committee member. “It raises money for a great cause, and it’s a great evening of entertainment.”

Nickerson said the group was the brainchild of the committee’s chairman, Jim McBride, who was inspired after a performance at the North Windham Union Church by an a cappella group from Ithaca College. Nickerson said the concert was so successful that McBride thought the church should host concerts on a regular basis.

Performances are already booked through November, with an off month occurring in December. Nickerson said the committee plans to meet within the next few weeks to discuss next year’s lineup.

“We look for acts that are different genres, but also that will have a popular appeal,” Nickerson said. “In other words, we want to be able to bring in a good crowd.”

Saturday’s “Broadway and Beyond” concert reunites three friends who got their start singing together in the University Singers almost 15 years ago at the University of Maine. Artesani, who is an associate professor in the School of Performing Arts at University of Maine, accompanied the singers during their University Singers days. She will rejoin them on piano for Saturday’s show.

Jameson McBride will also join the group onstage for a few songs during the performance.

“We are excited to have him too because he just graduated from Windham High School and was in the Windham Chamber Singers,” said Small, who is a former chamber singer and a 1998 Windham High School graduate. Small now works in Boston as a high school guidance counselor.

Audience members can expect to be serenaded by everything from show tunes to pop, singer-songwriter and folk songs. The trio said they wanted to select a wide variety of music that would appeal to a large crowd.

The last time the three performed together was two-and-a-half years ago for an Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis benefit concert in South Portland. Small said they raised more than $7,000 and had a packed house. He hopes they will get a full house this time, as well.

“People will enjoy the concert because it is an opportunity to hear some great music performed by friends who love to get together and sing and play together, and also to support a great cause,” Small said. “Everybody wins.”

All three singers said Special Olympics Maine is an incredible organization that they have had a connection to, whether through volunteer work or supporting family members who have competed in the event.

“I have a very strong connection to Special Olympics,” said Caufield, who is a music educator at Hebron Academy. “My brother has Down syndrome and he has participated in the Special Olympics ever since he was in elementary school, so it is very personal to me and it means a lot to me that the proceeds are going to an organization like that.”

Cain, a Maine state senator, candidate for the U.S. House 2nd district and the coordinator of advancement in the honors college at the University of Maine, said this is going to be a special weekend for her because it combines friendship and music with a wonderful cause.

“There’s a lot going on between my regular work at the University of Maine, campaigns and the end of the legislative session, but the opportunity to spend some time singing great music for a great cause is just about the best way I can imagine to spend a weekend,” Cain said. “I think it is going to be a standing-room-only event. I would recommend people get there early because I think it is going to draw a crowd.”

A CLOSER LOOK:

The next two weekends bring back-to-back benefit performances at North Windham Union Church as part of the Music with a Mission series. “Broadway and Beyond” featuring Emily Cain, Kelly Caufield and Matthew Small, will be performed at the church on Saturday, July 13, at 7 p.m. Another benefit concert, “Life As I Hear It,” featuring pianist Daniel Strange and his wife, violinist Ashley Liberty, will be performed at the church on Saturday, July 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets for both shows are sold at the door and are $12 for adults and $10 for students, children, and seniors. The box office opens at 6:15 p.m. and the doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information, call 892-7149 or email MWAMconcerts@gmail.com or visit www.mwamconcerts.com.

Emily Cain will perform Saturday night in the fifth concert of the Music with a Mission concert series at North Windham Union Church.Kelly Caufield will perform Saturday night in the fifth concert of the Music with a Mission concert series at North Windham Union Church.Matthew Small will perform Saturday night in the fifth concert of the Music with a Mission concert series at North Windham Union Church.

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