Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Pilgrims and the Wampanoag

Looking back to what is called the first Thanksgiving in 1621, we know the participants in this harvest festival or religious giving of thanks for the bounty were the Pilgrims and the First Nation tribe who had shared new world agriculture with the Pilgrims -- the Wampanoag. What we don't know about is the music from the gathering.

The music of the Pilgrims is more complex than their religious singing of psalms without instrumental accompaniment. Likewise, the music of the Wampanoag, while full of religious song, is much richer than that. Was there music at the feast? Who sang for whom? Were there instruments?

Today, Thanksgiving is filled with music -- from church music to the marching bands at the football games and the parades. May your Thanksgiving be filled with joy -- and music.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November 19th, 1868

On November 19th, 1868, the first presidential election after the civil war took place. That day, 172 women from New Jersey, including 4 black women, attempted to vote, in a test of the 14th Amendment. Needless to say, they were denied, so they put their uncounted ballots in a "women's ballot box" monitored by an 84 year old Quaker woman, Margaret Pryer.

Typical suffrage songs from around 1868 include "Female Suffrage," "Clear the Way, For Woman Voting," and "Woman is Going to Vote."

Of the 5.7 million votes cast in the election, 500,000 were cast by black men, including former slaves who had just won the right to vote. U.S. Grant's margin of victory in the popular vote was only 300,000 votes, although he readily won the Electoral College. American women wouldn't gain the right to vote throughout the country until 1920.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nebraska Music Educators 75th

Congratulations to the Nebraska Music Educators Association on 75 years. The music educators -- school and college music teachers -- have given many Nebraskans their introduction to music as an activity that can be enjoyed throughout their lives.

NMEA is meeting in Lincoln this week with programs, clinics, formal presentations and other activities for professional development and continuing education. Many young musicians will be in attendance, too, performing in their selected school ensembles or in All-State band, chorus, orchestra, or jazz band.

The gala opening tonight is A Concert and Conversation with Peter Buffett. The public is welcome, and tickets are available through the Lied Center box office. More information is available on the NMEA website.

Again, congratulations to the Nebraska Music Educators Association from the Polley Music Library. May there be many more years filled with music.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Got Sax?

Adophe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone was born on Nov. 6, 1814. Even as a child, Sax was working on "improving" various wind instruments. He attended the Brussels Conservatory, where he studied clarinet and flute. In 1842, Sax took a metal reed instrument he called the saxophone to Paris, and won a silver medal in the Paris Exposition of 1844. He finally won a gold medal in 1849 at the Paris Industrial Exposition. While ridiculed by critics and other instrument makers, composers such as Berlioz and Rossini supported his innovations. Sax taught sax at the Paris Conservatory from 1858-1871. Sax died in 1894, and interest in the instrument declined until it was taken up by jazz bands. And the rest is history.