Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
The Maine Festival of American Music
June 21 - June 24, 2017
The Maine Festival of American Music seeks to broaden knowledge of Shaker music and its history in the context of the wider world of classical and folk music. In honor of Sister Frances Carr (1927-2017) who was a great friend of this festival, her favorite hymns will be part of each concert. The Festival will also pay tribute to two Maine composers who were guests in its founding years and who mentored two generations of composers and performers world-wide. Guest artists will provide a wide spectrum of music that celebrates an organic continuum from classical to contemporary. The Tree of Life - a symbol of Shaker spiritualism - will illustrate this continuity and growth in each festival program.
The Shakers host the festival with all concerts taking place in their 1794 Meeting House, one of Maine’s most beautiful and acoustically superb venues for vocal and instrumental performances.
Shaker music, received mostly by spiritual inspiration rather than deliberate composition, is a product of one of America’s most unique communal religious experiences. The majority of Shaker songs originate from the mid-19th century and have been preserved by the Shakers through oral tradition. There were at one time in excess of 25,000 Shaker songs and, today, as many as 1000 remain a part of the active repertoire of the Sabbathday Lake Shakers. One of these living songs, “Simple Gifts” has achieved lasting significance outside of the Shaker Church. Written originally in 1848 by Maine’s Elder Joseph Brackett, “Simple Gifts” in its best known adaptations has been used by Aaron Copland to create “Appalachian Spring” and by Martha Graham for her avant-garde dance performance “The Shakers.”
Our full line-up of concerts, including online ticket ordering, will be available soon. Please check back or join our email list at the bottom of this page to be notified.
The Portland String Quartet
Wednesday, June 21 – 7:00 pm
This concert will be a special tribute to Sister Frances Carr - a dear friend of the Portland String Quartet for over 45 years. The PSQ will also honor Maine composer Peter Ré (1919 - 2016) - esteemed conductor, composer, professor at Colby College for 35 years and a guest of this festival in its inaugural year - 2006. Ré’s Quartet No.3 will be complimented with masterpieces by Mozart and Debussy.
Kevin Siegfried and the Portsmouth Singers
Thursday, June 22 - 7:00 pm
Composer Kevin Siegfried leads the Portsmouth Singers in a program of Shaker music. The concert intersperses Siegfried’s powerful choral arrangements of Shaker songs with original Shaker songs performed in unison. Audience participation is encouraged! Between songs, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Brother Arnold Hadd shares personal and historical insights about the Shaker songwriters, the motivation for the songs, and the past and present relevance of the songs within Shaker life. In many instances, through research from original Shaker manuscripts, Siegfried reintroduces the Shakers and the public audience to songs that had previously disappeared from the Shakers’ repertoire.
Friday, June 23th, 3pm– 5pm
Developing the Gift of Talent
Workshop Day at the Festival brings student and adult quartets to Shaker Village to study movements of major works from the literature with the Portland String Quartet. Emphasis on American composers and arrangements of Shaker Hymns will be included in the culminating Master Class in the historic 1794 Meeting House (3-5pm). This performance is FREE OF CHARGE to the general public.
Chris Moore of 317 Main Community Music Center
Friday, June 23 - 7:00 pm
Concert by Chris Moore and Kindling Stone of contemporary and traditional songs and instrumentals, Shaker songs, and original compositions created and performed by instructors from the 317 Main Community Music Center.
The Don Roy Trio
Saturday, June 24 – 1:30pm
Franco-American fiddler Don Roy is the aural signature of the Pine Tree State: crisp, straightforward fiddling that is born and bred in Maine’s French Canadian mill towns. Paralleling the Shakers’ tradition of song and dance, Don will perform a variety of mid-19th century folk and fiddle music from the Franco-American communities neighboring the Maine Shaker Villages, at a time when, Elder Joseph composed his song “Simple Gifts.” Don will be joined by pianist/step dancer Cindy Roy and bassist Jay Young; they perform throughout the Eastern States as the Don Roy Trio. Joining the trio are young musicians, the brother and sister fiddling team Rossby and Elsie Arnott from Otisfield.
The Portland String Quartet
Saturday, June 24 – 7:00 pm
The Portland String Quartet honors Maine composer, distinguished Professor of Music at Bowdoin College and special guest of this festival in 2007 - Elliott Schwartz (1936 - 2016). The Shaker symbol, "The Tree of Life," will find expression in the Shaker hymn as well as in the organic continuity of music that represents classical, romantic and avant garde styles. Works by Haydn and Dvorak will add context to Schwartz’ last work, String Quartet No.3: Portrait for Deedee, a final tribute to his beloved wife.