ANDOVER— Mark Mercer, the chorus director at Andover High School, has always enjoyed the concerts and competitions when his students have the opportunity to perform with other high school singers from around the state. 

But recently, Mercer realized his students rarely had the opportunity to perform with other students in the immediate area. He sent out emails to surrounding high schools, hoping to gauge interest in a possible joint concert. 

The result will be the first annual "Neighboring Communities Concert," featuring choruses from Andover, North Andover and Chelmsford High School, on Thursday, Feb. 5, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Collins Center for the Performing Arts at Andover High School.  

"It's always nice for our kids to work with other students in the area and outside their own school," Mercer said. "I think it's good experience for them."

Mercer said each school will bring a traditional concert choir, as well as a smaller chamber choir. He estimates each concert choir has close to 100 students, while the chamber choir has between 20 and 30. 

Chelmsford director Amanda Roeder said all three schools will perform "roughly" 20-minute set with several songs. The final song will be a combined piece performed by the schools and conducted by Mercer. 

Through the concert, Mercer hopes students will "gain perspective" on the different cultures of other school music programs. He likened the concert to the annual Senior Districts Competition, where singers and musicians from around the state are selected by judges to perform together in a big show. 

"With districts, the kids always look forward to seeing the kids from other schools," Mercer said. "I think (this concert) is a great experience for the students to not only share their passion for music, but support other programs and build connections with other communities in the area. Plus, it's a great way for kids to make friendships with kids from other schools."

Roeder, who participated in a similar type of show when she was working in a previous school district, said in her past experiences, students involved enjoyed the opportunity to see how their programs compared to similar ones in the area. 

"In sports, teams play all the time and players get a good sense of how their team compares to others around them. Music students don't get a lot of opportunities to see what is going on in other schools," Roeder said. "This will be a great chance for each school to bring their full ensembles together." 

Tickets for the concert can be purchased online by going to Prices are $5 for students and $8 for adults. 

Both Mercer and Roeder hope the concert will be the first of many future collaborations between Merrimack Valley schools. 

"A lot of people really like the idea of something new and different," Mercer said. "Personally, I'm really excited to work with the other directors, and I know my kids are excited for the concert."


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