This spring, Portsmouth Pro Musica under the artistic direction of Priscilla Stevens French encourages everyone to live free with a little “Bluegrass and Bernstein.”

The chorus will perform "The World Beloved - A Bluegrass Mass" by Carol Barnett, accompanied by a five-piece bluegrass band (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, string bass, and banjo) of local musicians. This innovative piece blends the solemnity of the classical-based Mass with modern choral sophistication and insightful poetry.

The mass premiered in 2007 and has been performed over 60 times by choruses from Washington, D.C. to California, including twice in Carnegie Hall. But this performance is a rare opportunity to see and hear it in the Granite State.

Composer Barnett noted, “To bring the solemnity of the classical-based Mass together with the down-home sparkle of bluegrass – now there’s an assignment.” PPM shares her hope that “Listeners coming from one tradition – classical or bluegrass – and perhaps dubious about the other, might discover something new and wonderful in the combination.”

In addition to performing the Mass, the chorus will celebrate the centennial of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, presenting an unpublished medley by Bill Cutter, who is the director of choral programs at MIT. Selections include pieces from "West Side Story," "Candide" and "Wonderful Town."

Performances will be held on Saturday, April 13 at 8 p.m. (Phillips Church, Exeter) and Sunday, April 14 at 3 p.m. (Christ Episcopal Church, Portsmouth).

Tickets can be purchased at Advance tickets are $13; students and seniors, $11. At the door, tickets are $16; $13 for students and seniors. All tickets are general admission and can be used at either concert.