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In a bleak time of year, a dark masterpiece

Catch lunch lecture and performance

It’s cold. It’s dark in the afternoon. Even the once white, fluffy snow has given in to the dirt and salt. It’s bleak, very bleak. But bleak’s not so bad.

“We put a premium on this idea of constant happiness,” said Peggy Senter, president of the Concord Community Music School. “But it’s important to develop the ability to find beauty in our dark moods.”

The Bach’s Lunch at the Concord Community Music School is hoping to do just that with its first installments Jan. 2 and 9. The informal lunch-hour lecture and concert series happens in two parts. The lecture, which happens the first Thursday of the month through June, focuses on the theme of the concert that takes place the following Thursday in the Music School’s Recital Hall.

Today, mediation expert Margaret Fletcher will discuss “Exploring the Darkness: A Meditative Listening Guide,” which will complement baritone Mark Andrew Cleveland and pianist Gregg Pauley’s performance of a concert entitled “A Journey into the Dark: Songs from Schubert’s Die Winterreise” next Thursday.

“It’s a really bleak piece of music and poetry, the darkest piece I know,” Senter said. “But it’s just gorgeous. It’s a really moving experience.”

Senter said, through the lecture and the short guided meditation before the performance, Fletcher will help the audience slow down, listen and really pay attention to the mood and beauty of the music. Fletcher, who is the Health Outreach Coordinator and mindfulness meditation teacher for the Center for Health Promotion at Concord Hospital, is a registered teacher with Yoga Alliance. She also teaches yoga philosophy and meditation at Living Yoga Studio in Concord. After being invited in 2008 to teach by Norman Scrimshaw, she also leads the NH community White Mountain Sangha as a Guiding Teacher.

“One of the things that’s so great about this particular series,” said Gregg Pauley, the pianist for the concert. “Is that it really does invite people to focus on what they’re experiencing in the concert hall. Yes, there are lots of distractions-- people eating their lunch, and crinkling papers and blah, blah, blah. But there’s wonderful art being created and beautiful music. And when Margaret speaks about mindfulness it’s just the awareness of the beauty of music and the experience you’re having while you’re there. That includes the lunch aspect.

“It’s all just this amazing experience that’s all around us. So many times we go through life and we just miss these things.”

And the piece itself is ripe for deeper exploration. In “Die Winterreise,” which translates to “The Winter’s Journey,” Schubert takes listeners on a trip to one man’s travels through the cold and dark. Schubert was a master at combining poetry and piano, Pauley said. This pieces uses the poetry of Wilhelm Muller.

“It’s interesting because the poems deal primarily with the loss of loves, how one feels forsaken and forlorn and lost and begins to wander aimlessly through life,” Pauley said. “This to me seemed a perfect entre into what Margaret does in terms of meditation and looking at the experiencing in life because we often balance our lives by looking at all those things which are good. But you know, you have to take the bad with the good. So this is the opportunity to experience that moment in your life which is actually quite bleak, experience that and not short change the value of that experience.”

The Bach’s Lunch Series received a 2007 Best of NH Award from New Hampshire Magazine, named as an Editor’s Pick – “best place to bring a brown-bag lunch.”

Both the lecture and concert begin at 12:10 p.m. and end by 12:50 p.m. The Recital Hall is located at 23 Wall St. in downtown Concord. For information, call 228-1196 or visit

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