More than twenty years ago, I was invited to a concert by my new neighbors after moving to rural NH. We drove through the woods on a hot summer evening to enter an even hotter church, an iconic New England building with it’s white clapboards and steeple on the outside and it’s wooden floors and box pews on the inside. Then the singers arrived – 30 teenagers full of boisterous energy and dressed like they had just raided the thrift store for whatever funky thing they could put on!
For the next several hours, this group of young musicians performed songs ranging from Gospel to Early American Shaped Note, filling the church with ballads, dance tunes, lullabies and resistance cries. I fell in love with Village Harmony, and since then have had the joy of performing with several of their adult groups, and bringing the teen groups to several churches to present their concerts, including, this coming Monday, Christ Church United Lowell!
Village Harmony was founded in 1989 by Larry Gordon, and since then has sent singers and instrumentalists throughout New England and the world. Each camp is filled with unauditioned singers from many places and backgrounds. They meet for a week of intensive study, usually somewhere in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Singing sessions fill six or more hours a day, with individual coaching and impromptu music making in-between. Meals are shared, and in the evening there is usually a contra dance, talent show, or chance to go swimming. Then they go on the road, spending the next two weeks traveling, performing nightly, staying in hosts homes and churches, and forging lifelong bonds of music and friendship.
This Monday at 7:30 pm we will be privileged to welcome Village Harmony to our own church home! Under the leadership of Suzanna Park, Carl Linich, and Nadia Tarnawsky, will will hear music from Appalachia, Republic of Georgia, Ukraine, and the Balkans. There may also be sea shanties and dancing! I hope you will come and fall in love with this group and this music as well.