Made and Played in Colonial America with Hudson Valley Baroque

Most people assume that the only musical fare in the 18th-century in New York was hymns because many of our history books only talk about the New England Puritans and religious music. But New York had a vast population of immigrants who were not religious refugees, and the city was a lively, sophisticated musical town!

Clockwise from top: Hilary Lynch, flute; Mary Jane Corry, harpsichord; Susan Seligman, cello; Rachel Handman, violin; and Joel Evans, oboe.
Photograph by Michael Gold

On Tuesday, February 13, the Department of Music at SUNY New Paltz will present Hudson Valley Baroque in a concert titled Made and Played in Colonial America. The concert begins at 8pm in McKenna Theatre.

In 1990, the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded Music Department Professor Emeritus Mary Jane Corry and Kate Van Winkle Keller a grant to read 60,000 issues of Colonial period newspapers and record everything to do with the performing arts. Their research was published in 1997 as The Performing Arts in Colonial American Newspapers, 1690-1783.

They found that New Yorkers were playing Handel, Corelli, Bach, and music by a good Scot composer, James Oswald. Benjamin Franklin was one of James Oswald’s most ardent admirers. Locally, Henry Livingston, Jr., of Poughkeepsie kept a notebook of over 200 tunes for singing and dancing. Hudson Valley Baroque will play the music cited in the newspapers, as well as music probably played in favorite pubs of New York.

The February 13 program includes Scottish folk settings by James Oswald, Irish pub songs, John Antes’ Trio, and J. C. Bach’s Quintet in D Major. Hudson Valley Baroque players include Mary Jane Corry, harpsichord; Rachel Handman, violin; Hilary Lynch, flute; Joel Evans, oboe; and Susan Seligman, cello.

This concert is part of the Music Department’s “Made in America” series. Throughout the 06-07 season, the Department of Music has programmed concerts that emphasize music of the United States. Composers born in America, music that influenced cultural forces in America, and foreign-born composers who used the creative energy of the New World to inspire their music are included in this season’s offerings.

Tickets to Hudson Valley Baroque’s Made and Played in Colonial America concert are $6 general admission, $4 seniors/SUNY staff, $3 students. Tickets are available at the door one half hour prior to the 8pm performance.