March 23, 2015
Topic: Arts & Culture
The students in Mark Clague’s American music classes are trying to revive a musical tradition popular in colonial America.
“U-M Sacred Harp Singing” is the name of the Sacred Harp (shape note) singing event, with sessions at 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m. Saturday (March 28) in the Moore Building Rehearsal Hall on North Campus.
The tradition began in the Northeast but survived into the 19th century in the rural south. The name comes from the most popular collection of early American four-part hymnody — “The Sacred Harp.”
“We hope to resurrect the Ann Arbor Sacred Harp Singing, an annual event that was popular on the heels of the 1960s folk music revival and was active until the 1980s. We hope to have 100 singers, combining locals, students and experienced regional singers,” says Clague, associate professor of music in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.
Lunch is at Pierpont Commons between the sessions. Clague and guest clinicians will teach the basics of shape-note singing in a 7 p.m. session Friday (March 27) in Room 2058 in the Moore Building.
Ardent Sacred Harp singers at U-M include Charlotte Wolf, senior associate librarian emerita. “I love the music for its strong harmonies, steady rhythm and colorful words. I am also conscious that I am participating in a history of groups of people getting together just to sing this music,” she says.