The Penacook Historical Society “Unearths” A 137-Year Old Musical Time Capsule
Once-Famous Music, Not Heard Since 1878, Will Be Played Live On Memorial Day Weekend
Concord, NH: For Concord’s 250th anniversary, the Penacook Historical Society is opening a 137-year old musical time capsule: the once-famous but nearly-forgotten Port Royal Band books. Written in Port Royal, SC, during the Civil War, brought home to Penacook, and made famous by Brown’s Band in the 1870s, the band books have gone largely unnoticed since 1878. This Memorial Day weekend, in a concert series featuring The Wildcat Regiment Band of Home, PA, this rousing music will fill and revitalize our streets again, as it did after the Civil War.
“You have a really proud history,” said John Brookfield, author of “The History of the Port Royal Bands,” to be published this summer. “You’re on the map because of those books.” Brookfield led a walking tour of band-related sites last summer in Penacook, captured in a locally-produced video by Penacook Films.* Several of the original band members rose to prominence after the War, including innovative industrialist D. Arthur Brown, veterans’ advocate and NH Insurance Commissioner John C. Linehan, and NH Secretary of State Nathan W. Gove, whose son enlisted with him as a drummer at age 12.
The Wildcat Regiment Band, which performs regularly for the National Park Service at historic Civil War battlegrounds, is thrilled to be bringing the music home again. The Band performs in Civil War-era uniforms and plays on period instruments from a private collection. In addition to the Port Royal music, they will play little-known selections from the Manchester Cornet Band and the 25th Massachusetts Band. There are five events in the series, and according to Bandmaster B. J. Pino, “someone should be able to follow us all weekend and not hear any musical piece twice.”
See below for a series schedule. The outdoor Penacook and Contoocook concerts will be light and fun, perfect for families with young children. History enthusiasts will be able to engage with the Band and view their unique instruments up close on Saturday afternoon at the Penacook Historical Society. An authentic Concord Coach will be on display at the two Penacook events if the weather is fair, courtesy of The Abbot-Downing Historical Society. The series will culminate in a free Sunday evening Grand Concert with rich historical narrative at the Concord City Auditorium, and a short, reverential performance at Concord’s Old North Cemetery during Monday’s Memorial Day parade.
All events are free and family-friendly, thanks to generous donations from The Walker Lecture Fund and others. The series is a Concord 250 Partner Event.
Wildcat Series Schedule:
Sat., May 23, 12:00-1:30 pm, Penacook Riverside Concert and Picnic
Riverside Park, Tanner St., Penacook (rain venue Washington Street School)
Opening concert by the Wildcat Regiment Band, with special visit from a Concord Coach.
Sat., May 23, 3:00 pm, Meet the Wildcat Regiment Band!
Penacook Historical Society, 11 Penacook St., Penacook
The Concord Coach will lead us to the historic Rolfe Barn for an in-depth conversation about the bands and music.
Sun., May 24, 2:00-3:00 pm, Contoocook Concert
Llewellyn Bandstand, Main St., Contoocook (rain venue Hopkinton High School)
Outdoor concert in honor of Hopkinton’s 250th, home of one set of the Port Royal Band books.
Sun., May 24, 7:00-9:00 pm, Grand Concert by The Wildcat Regiment Band
Concord City Auditorium, 2 Prince St., Concord
Celebrate Concord’s 250th anniversary and the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War with music from the Port Royal Band. Experience the full musical impact of a Grand Concert in the style of the 19th century.
Mon., May 25, 9:00 am, Concord Memorial Day Parade
The Penacook Historical Society For more information, contact Althea Barton
16 Penacook St., Penacook, NH 03303 603-753-9609
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