Folk rock and classical fare find a match

MANCHESTER — Think Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens, Graham Nash-meets-Elizabethan composers. Mezzo-soprano Allison Messier teams up with harpsichordist Paul Cienniwa in a CD-release concert at 4 p.m. Sunday at The Derryfield School Performing Arts Auditorium, 2108 River Road. 

The duo – collectively known as ALLISON – aptly named its debut recording “Volume One.” 

“Last summer we gave a recital in Rhode Island,” Messier said. “For that program, we performed a lot of music by people like Joni Mitchell, Cat Stevens and Harry Chapin, but I never expected such overwhelming support from the audience. It was a big risk for us to go pioneering into a new genre that was outside of our classical comfort zone. 

“All of the feedback we got from audience members was about how much they loved hearing us in that repertoire,” she added. “It’s so very satisfying to feel a room full of people completely engaged in our music making and even singing along.” 

Cienniwa said the seemingly unlikely mix of genres is freeing. 

“Unlike a classical ensemble, where we always feel the need to come up with new repertoire, ALLISON allows us to function like a rock band, performing sets of songs that people will want to hear time and time again,” he said. “Of course, the use of harpsichord in these songs adds a psychedelic quality that fits really well with the music.” 

Tickets are $20 and are available at 674-2308 or by visiting

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