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Downtown: A chorale concert in Capitol Commons parking garage?

Cars could be replaced with a chorale in the Capital Commons parking garage for one night next summer.

The New Hampshire Master Chorale has asked the city for permission to hold a concert in the garage June 21.

Members of the chorale thought of the garage as a venue as they were walking through during a visit downtown.

“I think we were walking through the garage being silly and singing and saying, ‘Hey, that’s a pretty good sound, wouldn’t it be cool to do a concert here?’ ” said Dan Perkins, the chorale’s music director.

The city’s parking committee considered the idea last month and asked staff members to explore the option.

“In talking it through with the parking committee, the committee felt it was an interesting idea and could have good economic benefits for downtown, but at the same time the logistics of actually having the concert happen would be tricky,” said Matt Walsh, director of redevelopment, downtown services and special projects.

Walsh said city officials will consider the logistics of holding the concert, which

Perkins said would likely be on the second floor of the garage.

“It would be on a weekend so we would have to make sure the floor the concert would be on would have no parking on it, as well as the floor above it in the garage,” Walsh said.

The concert would also require weekend parking enforcement, which the city does not typically have, Walsh said. He’ll also need to work with the chorale to consider other logistics, “like if the chorale wants to have tables and chairs for their concert, how would those be delivered because a delivery truck can’t get up through the garage.”

Mark Yasewicz, a singer in the chorale and a member of its board of directors, said the up to 30-person group “has always been a bit edgier” in its work and choice of venues. Last month, they performed a “Northern Lights” concert at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

“We know that there will be some challenges with this, but we don’t see them as being insurmountable,” Yasewicz said.

Plus, Yasewicz noted, the Capital Commons garage is in great condition.

“It is certainly nicer than the average city parking garage,” he said. “So although it’s a parking garage, it’s not greasy and decrepit with a lot of peeling paint. It’s new and spotless.”

The chorale hopes the concert would help establish downtown Concord as a destination for the arts, Yasewicz said.

Whether or not the concert is in the garage, the chorale will perform the Leonard Bernstein Mass in June.

“I think the thing that is perhaps interesting and maybe that suggests that a venue like a parking garage would be interesting is Leonard Bernstein put together this piece of music really as an exploration of his own frustration with religion, so it’s an exploration of his own beliefs and attitudes of conflict with belief, so it’s not particularly Christian,” Perkins said. “Having it in a unique venue that’s unexpected, (that) challenges people to think of spaces in a new way, really matches the theme of the music.”

Bravo moves to Phenix

All three storefronts of Phenix Hall will be occupied by January.

Bravo Boutique, a high-end women’s clothing store, is moving a few blocks south on Main Street.

The boutique opened in 2010 at the corner of North Main and Capitol streets. In January, it will relocate to Phenix Hall, at 38 N. Main St.

Owner Tina Smith, who purchased the store from A.J. Silva this summer, said the new space is slightly smaller.

“I think it will be a nice fit for us to be a little smaller, as well,” Smith said. “And just a little better foot traffic, as well, I think. It’s maybe a better spot for retail than where we are currently.”

Smith said she will continue carrying prom dresses, mother-of-the-bride attire and high-end dresses, but will also offer casual, everyday clothing.

“It’s a time for us to maybe be open to changing some things here while keeping the same quality and high-end items, you know, just to make it a little more inviting as well,” she said.

Bravo’s new storefront in Phenix Hall, between The Works Bakery Cafe and the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen retail store, has been vacant for several years. A lawsuit over accessibility to the building was recently settled in federal court, as the city’s upcoming renovations to Main Street will redesign the sidewalk to eliminate steps in front of Phenix Hall.

Merriment on Main Street

Intown Concord will host Midnight Merriment, its annual holiday event, this Friday.

From 5:30 until midnight, downtown Concord will have holiday activities, caroling and shopping promotions.

Events include the Concord Arts Market “Winter Giftopolis” and visits with Santa in the Eagle Square atrium, children’s stories at Orange Leaf and tours of the Kimball House at the Capitol Center for the Arts.

(The Monitor is one of Intown Concord’s corporate sponsors.)

For more information, visit Intownconcord.org.

Grant for the Audi

Damaged plaster inside the Concord City Auditorium will be replaced, thanks to a state Moose Plate grant.

Plaster in the Audi’s water-damaged entrance lobby and its staircase will be repaired with a $20,000 grant, according to the Friends of the Audi monthly newsletter.

The Moose Plate grant program provides money for conservation and cultural heritage when residents purchase special license plates with moose on them. The grant was approved by Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council this month.

The plaster work will be completed between the last shows of December and the beginning of January, according to the newsletter. It will be done by Milestone Construction of Concord.

Toy Shop closes

The Toy Shop has closed its doors.

Owner Lori Leitner opened the store in the former French’s Toy Shop on South State Street in 2011.

“You know, the economy has slowed down, and I’m looking to do something different,” Leitner said last week.

Yesterday marked the end of the store’s clearance sale. Leitner said she will donate the rest of the merchandise to charity.

She also owned the Toy Shop at the Mall of New Hampshire and said she was ready to move on after eight years. Leitner is not sure what she will do next.

“I just want to thank everyone in Concord for being so dedicated because they really have been,” she said.

A giving tree

Gondwana Divine Clothing & Co. and the Salvation Army are working together this year to provide gifts for children.

Gondwana has a giving tree with stars listing gifts for children. Customers can pick a star, purchase the gift for a child and return it by Thursday. The partnership will “bring some cheer to some children in need,” owner Pam Peterson said in an email.

Also through Thursday, Peterson is collecting gently used coats and boots for the Concord Homeless Resource Center.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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