August 20, 2021

Maine Music Society appoints Nickerson as artistic director

Dr. Richard Nickerson has been appointed as
the new artistic director for the Maine Music
Society and will also continue in his position
as the director of choral music at Windham
By Elizabeth Richards

As the new artistic director for the Maine Music Society, Dr. Richard Nickerson, who is also the director of choral music at Windham High School, is doing even more of the work he loves.  

“The beauty of this kind of work is that if you’re doing it right, it never feels like work,” Nickerson said.

His new position will not impact his work at Windham High School, though he is hoping for some opportunities for future collaboration.

“I’m excited to have been appointed artistic director,” he said. “I’m also looking forward to returning to the position I’ve had for 35 years as choral director at Windham High School.”

Nickerson was named artistic director for the Maine Music Society in late fall of 2019, he said. At that time, he stepped down from being the Minister of Music at North Windham Union Church to create space for the new endeavor.

“I’m at that point in my life where when I take on something, I have to give up something. I always tell myself it’s not going to be as much work as I think and it always ends up being way more work than I think,” he said. 

Although he was supposed to begin his duties last season, COVID-19 put everything on hold.

“I was really excited about the challenge,” Nickerson said. “We were planning for our 2020-2021 season, and well, we all know what happened there,” he said. 

His appointment to the position was postponed, and he is now in the process of planning their 2021-2022 season, which will be announced on Aug. 26.

Nickerson applied for the position after a longtime friend reached out to see if he was interested. When he researched the group, he said, he could see real potential. 

One of the most appealing aspects, he said, was that the three types of concerts the group puts on are very similar to the types of shows he has presented with the WHS chamber singers for many years.

“I felt very comfortable with that format,” Nickerson said.

Each concert has a theme, and the three formats are a holiday concert in December, a classical concert in March, and a Pops style concert in May.

The Maine Music Society is a nonprofit organization comprised of three groups: The Maine Music Society Chorale and The Maine Music Society Chamber Singers, whose volunteer members join by audition; and the professional musicians in the Maine Music Society Orchestra.

Nickerson’s role makes him the “face of the organization,” he said, and includes selecting music for the season, preparing the chorale for performances, and conducting the chorale in performances. 

These tasks closely mirror what he does at the high school, he said.

Another aspect of the position is recruiting new singers, Nickerson said, especially after more than a year of inactivity.  One thing he’s done is reach out to former chamber singers.

“I’m really hoping we can bring in some graduates, not just from Windham, but from anywhere,” he said. 

During the past year, though the group wasn’t holding live concerts, they did gather online to get to know each other, Nickerson said. He also provided some vocal technique instruction to help keep voices ready for performance.

“Singing is very much like being an athlete,” he said. “If you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it.”

Nickerson said he’s looking forward to the challenge of his new role and is encouraged by the potential for arts growth in the Lewiston-Auburn community. Maine Music Society performances are held at the Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston.  

Auditions for the 2021-2022 chorale will be held on Thursday, Sept. 2.

For more information, contact Nickerson at <

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