STURBRIDGE More than 50 singers, dancers, musicians and artists will gather at Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) to bring 19th-century cultural arts to life as part of the museum's annual Music & Art weekend, June 15 and 16.
On Father's Day, June 16, dads get free OSV admission and will receive a free Village-made pottery flask (while supplies last). Throughout the weekend visitors can see rare antique musical instruments on display, hear performances of African American spirituals, and learn to play a tin whistle. Art demonstrations will include sketching, watercolors, and theorem painting, and visitors can try their hands at marbling paper. Daytime performances are free with museum admission.
Soprano Alika Hope will perform traditional African American spirituals throughout the weekend and will give the history behind these popular songs. The program includes songs like "Go Down Moses," "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho," and "This Little Light of Mine." Hope, who is the associate host of the television show "Connecticut Perspective," will be accompanied by guitarist Ramon Morant.
OSV performers will present 19th-century songs and stories all weekend long and will display rare antique musical instruments from the museum's collection, including wooden flutes, parlor guitars, woodwinds, and lap instruments. Visitors can also hear a concert on the Village's antique pipe organ and enjoy fife and drum music presented by the Sturbridge Militia. The OSV Dancers will teach guests of all ages how to perform popular contra dances, jigs, and reels from the early 1800s.
According to OSV historians, early New Englanders enjoyed more than just religious music. In fact, popular songs in the 1800s included salacious and satirical songs, as well as songs about murders, executions and famous battles.
"Early New Englanders worked very hard, but they also loved music, art, and dance," OSV musician Jim O'Brien noted. "Families in early New England didn't go straight to sleep after dark they liked to stay up singing songs and telling stories."
People in rural towns learned four-part harmony in singing schools taught by itinerant instructors. British ballads like "Barbara Allen," were passed down from one generation to the next for hundreds of years. People also sang "broadside songs," which were printed on single sheets in Boston and sold all over the countryside.
Dances in early New England were informal and were usually held in farmhouses or barns. Young people in rural areas could learn all the latest steps at formal dancing schools taught by dancing-school masters who traveled from town to town.
One of the most popular art forms in 19th-century New England was theorem painting, or oil painting with stencils on white velvet. The stencil technique made it possible for amateur artists to create charming artwork for their own homes.
The museum is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. OSV offers free parking and a free return visit within 10 days. Admission: $24; seniors $22; children 3 to 17, $8; children age 2 and younger, free. Woo Card subscribers get $5 off adult daytime admission; college Woo cardholders receive $12 off adult daytime admission.
For times and details of all OSV activities visit: www.osv.org
or call 1-800-SEE-1830.