Artist in Residence

Billy Butler

Billy was born into a musical family. His mother is a classically trained pianist and his brother is a virtuoso violinist. He grew up in New Hampshire on the border of Maine around back-wood jamborees and Paganini concertos. At a young age he showed an affinity for the dramatic and tiring of the living room re-interpretations of Cheech and Chong records, his mother brought him the closest theatre group she could find. Since then, he has gone on to have a career spanning the globe as a performer, musician, writer, composer, and theatre-maker and is proud to call Portsmouth his cultural home-base for more than thirty years.

He is the head pharma for ‘Bitter Pill’, a band of 21st century vaudevillians who play a dark and anachronistic combination of folk, blues, and jazz along. In September, they released their debut record, ‘Prepare Your Throats’, thirteen original and traditional songs. It is the soundtrack to ‘Titus Andronicus’ by William Shakespeare which he produced and directed at The Players’ Ring last summer.

He has tread the boards across the region as an actor and director and is the recipient of the Excellence in American Theatre Award from the New England Theatre Council. Billy wrote the music and lyrics for Cynthia von Buhler’s 1920s immersive show, ‘Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic’ in NYC at The Liberty Theatre on 42nd street. He wrote the book, music, and lyrics for the cult-hit rock musical, ‘Gay Bride of Frankenstein’, which has played regionally and in New York City to sold-out crowds and rave reviews. Other writing credits include a new fairy tale musical, ‘Missing: Wynter’, ‘Artificial Instrumentation’ (in development), ‘Weapons of Mass Construction’, and ‘The Brechtones’. His studio recordings include: ‘The Lot 20 Sessions’, ‘Neptune’, ‘Gay Bride of Frankenstein’ Workshop Soundtrack, ‘Blue Rhapsody’, ‘To the Depth of Jazz’, ‘Facebook Live from the South Meeting House’, and ‘Fuzzy Logic’. He has also recorded with regional and Grammy Award winning artists.

Billy currently lives in Rye Beach, NH with his wife and muse, Paula and their cat, Jack.

The Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra’s Artist in Residence program is an opportunity to invite performers, artists, educators, composers and all manner of creative people for a time and space away from their usual environment. 

It is meant to provide a time of reflection, research, presentation and/or production. It allows the individual to explore his/her practice within the community of a local symphony orchestra; meeting new people, using new materials, experiencing and growing through the classical music genre. A small stipend is provided.  

Individuals interested in a residency should submit their resume and a paragraph stating their interest to info@portsmouthsymphony.org.


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It is with the greatest sadness that we announce the decision to suspend any concert activity for September, October, and November 2020.

We waited as long as we could, and had a number of scenarios in mind. It became clear, however, that the future, given the directives from the state of New Hampshire, was too much of an unknown, and we wouldn’t be able to plan compassionately, intelligently, and in a timely manner, for the safety and well-being of our musicians and audience members.

We know that all our lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic. This is the only time in 23 years that the Portsmouth Symphony has had to cancel concerts, which is illustrative of the gravity of the current global situation.

Please stay safe, stay in touch, and we hope for a quick and happy return to exciting concerts and to the exceptional joys of music-making that our community has come to expect and love.

We miss seeing you, our audience, and will keep you posted about when it is safe to return to glorious symphonic gatherings!

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