WINDHAM – Dr. Richard Nickerson is accustomed to conducting performances at the Windham Performing Arts Center, not watching them from the audience. But that’s exactly what Windham’s longtime music director will do – for the 13th time, in fact – at next weekend’s Richard Nickerson Scholarship Concert.

Nickerson thoroughly enjoys the annual concert, which features alumni he taught as children. He’s watched them grow and mature, and the opportunity to watch them perform is a delight.

“It’s like a homecoming, really,” Nickerson said. “The scholarship may bear my name but I don’t do anything. It’s a chance for me to show up, listen and enjoy.”

While he is humbled to have a concert named after him, Nickerson feels a little funny about the whole thing, too, joking, “At first, I felt that I should be dead to have something named for me, but I never would have dreamed it would have lasted this long. It seems to get better every year.”

The concert takes place Saturday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Windham Performing Arts Center at the high school. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors, with proceeds being used to provide scholarships for students planning to pursue some type of arts education in college.

According to Janelle LoSciuto, herself a scholarship recipient in 2002 and now coordinator of the concert, this year’s concert will feature 21 Windham alumni performers, including past scholarship recipients Chelsea Williams and Laura Toppi (both 2008) as well as Jessica Thompson (2004).

LoSciuto said the annual scholarship, which usually provides either one or two $1,000 scholarships, is the work of the Richard Nickerson Scholarship Committee, formed in 1997 by parents of Windham Chamber Singers students in appreciation of Nickerson.

According to Windham resident Rolf Dries, who along with his wife, Susan, and several other local families helped form the scholarship committee, the annual concert is a way to honor Nickerson.

“The man has done a tremendous job for the community,” Dries said. “We had to name it something so, we decided, let’s name it in honor of Rick.”

Since its formation, the committee has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships to 16 Windham High School graduating seniors. Recipients don’t have to major in music but have to have music in their future plans. To qualify for the scholarship, recipients also have to write an essay indicating how music has affected their development and how it will continue to enrich their lives.

“This is the only alumni performance all year,” said LoSciuto, who used her scholarship to study entertainment business management at Full Sail University in Florida and is now a voice coach living in Windham. “It should be an exciting concert with everything from Bach, Mozart and Brahms to Tom Petty and Neil Young’s ‘Old Man.’ And we also have some musical theater, as well: ‘Chicago,’ ‘Little Women’ and ‘Ragtime.'”

Last year’s performances were canceled due to snow, so this year, LoScuito said, there are two snow dates.

“If it snows on Jan. 8, we’ll have the show Jan. 9. And if it snows on Jan. 9, we’ll have it Jan. 15. So, we are prepared this year. This concert is happening,” she said.

And unlike December’s “An American Family Holiday,” which sold out weeks before the performance, tickets for the Jan. 8 concert are only available at the door and likely won’t sell out if past history is any indication.

“We’re hoping a lot of people turn out, so we can grow the numbers and really give back to the scholarship,” LoScuito said.

Wicked Pitches will take the stage Jan 8. (Courtesy photo)


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