Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Story

Twixt Christmas Day and Candlemas (February 2), if the roads be frozen enough for foot or carriage or sleigh, this is the season for visiting neighbors and friends--and of sitting by the fire and storytelling. Here, then, is ours:

Once Upon A Time there lived a talented troupe of performers known as The Philadelphia Revels. Each December they'd present a special show of music, dance and storytelling from a different culture or historical era. And each season a small group of cast members would perform in community outreach programs, bringing songs and dances of the season to children and elder citizens who could not attend the main show.

In the year 2000, The Philadelphia Revels chose "Christmas in Colonial Philadelphia" as their theme and, as usual, the group performing outreach programs took part of their show out into the community. Unlike other years, however, long after the main show was over and the New Year brought in, nursing homes, churches and historic sites were still asking for programs of colonial music. The songs may have been enchanted. Or possibly the proximity to Philadelphia and Valley Forge generated extra interest in colonial themes.

Whatever the case, two years later the small outreach group was still performing colonial songs, a capella and in costume, when they were asked to help raise funds for a beautiful old historic church. The ensemble's first full length concert was presented at the church in June of 2002, and the group adopted the name Colonial Revelers.

The Philadelphia Revels ceased operation soon after, but demand for the colonial concerts and workshops continued, so Colonial Revels was adopted in January 2006 by a brand new non-profit organization: Historical Harmonies.

Historical Harmonies stated purpose is "To educate the public by providing a fuller understanding of history, and in particular American history, through the performance of vocal/choral music of specific eras." Besides sponsoring all Colonial Revelers activities, the organization produces May Revelers and Victorian Carolers. The former troupe presents celebrations and workshops of May Day music and traditions. The latter performs seasonal music of the Victorian era as well as programs of Civil War era songs.

In January 2007, Colonial Revelers released their first CD, REVELRY, REFLECTION & REVOLUTION, featuring songs that might have been sung in colonial taverns, churches and military camps.

On January 1, 2010, look for CD #2, DOWN AMONG THE DEADMEN, a compilation of 17th and 18th century tavern songs.

Will they all sing happily ever after? Stay tuned.

Your servants,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Courteous Reader,

Here comes the Orator! with his Flood of Words, and his Drop of Reason.
Poor Richard's Almanac, 1735

An almanac, by definition, is designed to inform the reader month by month throughout the year.

While those of us in Historical Harmonies cannot claim to be experts in, say, the best planting time for pumpkin seeds, we would like to share what we know of historical--in particular, 18th century-- vocal/choral music. Through this almanac, we can also keep you informed of our events and recordings, and give you an idea of who we are, what we do, and why we do it.

We hope to entertain you here
And delight throughout the coming year.
Your servants,

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