Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village


The Maine Festival of American Music

12th Annual
June 21 - June 24, 2017

Sister Frances Carr and Julia Adams of the Portland String Quartet
Sister Frances Carr and Julia Adams of the Portland String Quartet in front of the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Meeting House.

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.

The concerts will be dedicated to the life and legacy of Sister Frances Carr, 89 years old, who died peacefully at Shaker Village on January 2nd of this year. Through many decades, Sister Frances was a huge supporter of Shaker Village’s public programs and shared her love of Shaker music, classical music, and folk music through our 4-day music festival. The famous Shaker song, Simple Gifts, was among her favorite performances offered in a hauntingly beautiful renditions arranged and performed each year by the Portland String Quartet

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.”

We hope to see you at the 2018 Music Festival!

Portland String Quartet, photo credit Woody LelandThe 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 Portland String Quartet will also honor Maine composer Walter Piston (1894-1967). Born in Rockland, Maine, Piston taught two generations of American composers at Harvard and in the world beyond through his acclaimed text books on Harmony and Theory. The Washington Post called the PSQ's recordings of his complete string quartets: "... a dialogue on the highest musical level." His stunning and jazzy Quartet No.5 will be complimented with masterpieces by Mozart and Debussy.


Kevin SiegfriedKevin 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.


PSQ Workshop Master ClassFriday, 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.
Tickets FREE

Don Roy TrioThe Don Roy Trio
Friday, June 23 – 7pm

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.

Portland String QuartetThe 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.

Maine Festival of American Music at Shaker Village, handmade fiddle by Don Royor click here to purchase multiple concert tickets

Students age 21 and under are admitted free with pre-registration.

Simple Gifts, Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village