About Portsmouth Pro Musica
Photography by David J. Murray
Listen to selections from recent PPM performances here.
Portsmouth Pro Musica is dedicated to providing an enriching musical experience to both our members and the community through the scholarship and presentation of professional, high-quality, diverse choral repertoire. The chorus is well known in the Seacoast area and regional choral venues for its unique sound and skilled performances of sacred and secular works gleaned from centuries of choral music. Priscilla Stevens French, founding artistic director and conductor, provides weekly choral voice coaching and insight for musical interpretation. The chorus draws its voices from the greater Seacoast area, including New Hampshire, southern Maine, and northern Massachusetts. We thank you for your continuing support and invite you to come sing with us or attend our performances. You will truly be enriched, as we are, by sharing this wonderful music program.
Priscilla Stevens French, founding artistic director of Portsmouth Women’s Chorus for 21 seasons, led the transformation of PWC into a new mixed chorus, Portsmouth Pro Musica, in the spring of 2006. Priscilla earned a B.A. from Beloit College and received her Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music studying under Lorna Cooke deVaron. She spent her junior year at Manchester College, Oxford, England, studying organ and musicology.
Prior to moving to New Hampshire in 1985, Priscilla was chairman of the Music Department at Spence School in New York City. She has served as past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and Eastern Division chairman for women’s choirs. She is proud of her many achievements with Portsmouth Women’s Chorus:
- A multimedia presentation of “Song of Survival” at The Music Hall (1995)
- A ten-day concert tour to England (1998)
- One of twelve auditioned choirs invited to perform at the Eastern Division AC DA Convention in Baltimore, Md. (2000)
- And PWC’s 20th anniversary concert at The Music Hall, including a commissioned work by Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker (2005)
Priscilla has conducted at the Great Waters Music Festival Summer Sings in Wolfeboro, N.H., 2004–2007, and at the Nashua Choral Society Sing in 2009. In July 2008 and 2009, she organized a chamber orchestra and played harpsichord in a performance of Handel’s Water Music on board the Gundalow in Portsmouth. She is a member of the Young Organist Collaborative in Portsmouth, a nine-year-old program providing free organ lessons to promising first-year students.
Since founding Portsmouth Pro Musica four years ago, she has conducted several masterworks from the mixed chorus repertory: Mozart, Coronation Mass in C; Thompson, A Peaceable Kingdom (selections); Handel, Coronation Anthems; Purcell, Dido and Aeneas; Puccini, Messa di Gloria; Bach, Christmas Oratorio; and Orff, Carmina Burana. Priscilla hopes to tour Eastern Europe some day with members of PPM.
Robert Littlefield, accompanist, is a prominent figure in the North Shore music world. Mr. Littlefield has taught piano and organ for over 40 years and has been accompanying Chorus North Shore since 1983. Mr. Littlefield holds a Bachelor and Master in Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, with focus on harpsichord and organ performance as well as choral conducting. Mr. Littlefield also serves as Music Director and organist at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Beverly, Mass. He frequently surprises auditioning soloists with his musical genius by playing strictly from memory the piano accompaniment to arias they have chosen for their auditions.