We are delighted to announce that we received the 2022 Oratam Award from the Bergen County Historical Society for research, interpretation, and performance of historic music. The awards dinner was held at the historic 1776 House in Tappan, NY, where, during the American Revolution, the British Major John Andre was held captive before his execution as a spy, having received from Benedict Arnold the plans to West Point. In addition to being an officer, Andre was a poet and musician. We play some of his music in our show “George Washington and His Spies”—one of the shows that the awards committee specifically mentioned.
While we love 18th-century songs and dances and the opportunity to craft new shows around period themes–most recently, “The Real Music of Alexander Hamilton,” “Music for the Marquis de LaFayette,” and “Colonial Spies”–we also love getting the chance to play music of different eras. Most recent was Victorian Christmas, which occasioned the creation of an 1870s-style gown, complete with a bustle. And once we had the clothes, well, we had to start working on non-seasonal songs to go with them. The Victorian parlor songs we’ve learned as a result have opened up a new musical world to us–rich, melodious, deeply moving. Soon to be announced, our first concert to incorporate some of these songs: “Music Through American History,” beginning with the colonial era and extending through World War I.
There is perhaps no better instrument for Christmas music than the hammered dulcimer. “It just sounds like the angels,” said one recent audience member. People have been asking us for years for a Christmas CD, and now we are pleased to announce that we have one! “To Hear the Angels Sing” includes festive carols new and old (mainly old) from many lands–with dulcimer, violin, mandolin, and vocal harmonies–to put you in touch with the true spirit of the holidays.
In April of 1865, Lincoln’s funeral train stopped in Albany on its way from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, Illinois. The president’s body lay in state at the New York state capitol from 1 am until 2 pm on April 26, 1865. During that time, an estimated 50,000 people filed past, with thousands more still waiting in line outside when the coffin had to be taken back to the train to continue its long journey home. Anne and Ridley played at the capitol to help commemorate that event.
Anne and Ridley Enslow performing in the War Room of the New York State capitol. Photo by Michael Joyce (OGS)
We are pleased to announced that our fifth CD, Brandy O! Music from the Parlors of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, is finally out! It’s a spirited selection from the vast archives of music in the households of our First and Third Presidents, distilled and refined for your most excellent diversion.
Writes one reviewer: “From the first grab of the violinist’s bow, this is a CD that draws in the listener in a warm embrace and creates an intimate sound space, a virtual 18th-century parlor populated by superb musicians and engaging vocalists.”
Cokie B. Roberts, journalist and author of Founding Mothers and Ladies of Liberty, calls it “lively, tuneful, and fun!” We hope you agree!