Choral Music Review



Carolina Summer Music Festival: Carolina Scrapbook Dances in Old Salem

August 29, 2009 - Winston-Salem, NC:


The median age of the audience in the Gray Auditorium for this late morning and penultimate concert of the Carolina Summer Music Festival dipped sharply from earlier concerts. This performance, given inside the lovely Old Salem Visitors Center, was billed as a family concert, and a large number of enthusiastic towheaded youngsters were on hand. This was a repeat by popular demand of a multi-media history tour of the sights and sounds of North Carolina given last season.

The roughly hour-long program featured an excellent slide show drawn from the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Outer Banks History Center, Winston-Salem Convention and Visitors Bureau, and not least, the Photographic Archives and Visual Resources of Old Salem Museums & Gardens. The amiable and sporting narrator was Lanie Pope, the well-known meteorologist for the locally-based NBC affiliate WXII television. Festival Brass consists of trumpeters Anita Cirba and Ken Wilmot, Joe Mount, French horn, trombonist Chris Ferguson, and Matt Ransom, tuba. Percussionist John R. Beck played drums, blazed across the xylophone, and banged away at various kitchen articles. He was aided and abetted by Pope on occasion.

Pictures drawn from productions of Paul Green's outdoor drama The Lost Colony as well as of the Elizabeth II, a reconstructed ship such as might have been used by John White, founder of the tragic settlement, served to accompany the history of our state in the Elizabethan period. Two brass quartet arrangements of Renaissance dances by the Flemish composer Tielman Susato (c.1510/15-after 1570) were played. The founding of Salem in 1766 by Moravians from the present day Czech Republic was discussed. Youngsters listened and watched closely to the details about Edward Teach, Blackbeard the Pirate. "Dixie" and "Bonnie Blue Flag" served to accompany stories of the Confederate and Yankee forces during the Civil War. The most fascinating was the story of General Robert E. Lee's favorite band, the 26th Regimental Band, North Carolina Troops, C.S.A. They were Moravian musicians from Salem, preserved beautifully in a period photo from the Moravian Archives. The amazing looking instruments were confiscated when they were taken prisoner. Their printed music survives as part of the only complete sets of band books from a Confederate band in the American Civil War. One of their selections was played.

The turn of the century was covered with the founding of Winston around R. J. Reynolds tobacco factories and the merger of Winston and Salem by the U.S. Post Office in 1889. Highlights were the creation of Pepsi Cola, originally Brad's Drink, in New Bern in 1893, the Wright Brothers' first flight in 1903, Babe Ruth's first home run in Fayetteville on March 7, 1914, and the start up of Krispy Kreme Donuts in 1937. Among the musical selections was an extravaganza featuring Beck on xylophone and other percussion with Pope keeping a steady beat on gourds and similar objects, backed by the brass. This captured the spirit of music that might accompany a silent movie. Scenes of our state in more recent times were backed by some swing music and two shagging tunes, including "My Girl." Pope found shagging partners among the energetic kids. Everyone seemed to have a ball!