Sunday, August 17, 2008

NPS: 14th Annual Gettysburg Music Muster Set for August 23

Performances by the most respected and authentic Civil War musicians will fill the air on August 23 at Gettysburg National Military Park, during the 14th Annual Gettysburg Music Muster. This one-of-a-kind performance - much of it played on original instruments – includes songs of balladeers, Victorian dance music and dance performances, along with fifes, banjo, mandolin, and more.

The Gettysburg Field Music Muster will include the Susquehanna Travellers who will be performing with the Victorian Dance Ensemble as well as solo. This year Douglas Jimerson will be accompanied by the Civil War Comrades. Mr. Jimerson stands on his own as an exceptional musician. In a twist on the Civil War music theme, the Victorian Dance Ensemble will call and perform several dance numbers of the era in Victorian dress. This year marks their tenth anniversary performance at the Muster. Their grand finale will include audience participation. New this year will be the 2nd South Carolina String Band.

Performances begin at 11:30 AM on the back lawn of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center and continue until sunset at various locations. Additional performances will take place at the Dobbin House Courtyard on Steinwehr Avenue from 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM, at the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and at the Pennsylvania Monument from 5:30 PM until sundown.

The public is invited to attend free of charge. Bring your lawn chairs, lunches and blankets to spread on the grass. For more information or a full schedule of performances call (717) 334-1124 ext. 3251

Music Muster Performers:

Douglas Jimerson and the Civil War Comrades - The day will begin with a performance from Douglas Jimerson and the Civil War Comrades. Douglas Jimerson and The Civil War Comrades are a fixture in the National Parks of the mid-Atlantic region. In the past year they have been featured on PBS-TV and at the bicentennial birthday celebration for Robert E. Lee. They are scheduled to perform for ceremonies in our nation's capital for the bicentennial birthday celebration for Abraham Lincoln. To commemorate the occasion of Lincoln's upcoming birthday, the group is releasing another CD this Fall, "A Lincoln Portrait."

The founder of the group, Douglas Jimerson, began his professional career performing with The Washington Opera and made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1996. He has performed with Civil War musicians on various occasions at The Kennedy Center. His discography comprises 20 CD's of Civil War, patriotic, classical, international, and country music.

The Civil War Comrades consist of musicians Robert Clayton playing banjo guitar and mandolin and Ellen Jimerson playing hammered dulcimer and mandolin. “There is no other artist doing the kind of work Jimerson does," said the Washington Post.

The Susquehanna Travellers perform the music of the 19th Century America focusing on Civil War era and Irish music. The musicians are civil war re-enactors and members of the 87th PA Volunteer Infantry. The band got its start playing traditional tunes around the campfire at civil war re-enactments and with the support and encouragement of other re-enactors, the lads decided to officially form the Susquehanna Travellers. While the band certainly enjoys playing for the public, they feel most at home playing for their fellow re-enactors around the campfire.

Allen Brenner began playing his grandfathers’ hand-me-down violin at the age of 11. Throughout high school and college he received classical training and played in various orchestra and chamber ensembles, including one that performed at Carnegie Hall. After a hiatus from music for more than 20 years, he rediscovered his interest, but he quickly realized he needed to explore other musical styles. He would become interested in civil war re-enacting, where he would meet the other Travellers.

Craig Hershock has been involved in music since he picked up his father’s saxophone at the age of 9. He’s had instruction in piano, saxophone, clarinet, and voice. Susquehanna Travellers has enabled Craig to meld his love of music and history.

Jim Van Laeys has been playing guitar for more than 40 years. In 1996 he joined the 87th PA Volunteer Infantry re-enacting group. Soon Craig Hershock, Allen Brenner and Mark Ehrsam joined the group. They played music around the campfire and became the Susquehanna Travellers.

Mark Ehrsam began playing guitar while in college in the 1970’s and performed with several acoustic groups in the York, Lancaster and Harrisburg areas. In later years he added mandolin, mandola and octave mandolin to the list of instruments he plays. Mark became a member of the 87th Pennsylvania Volunteers and joined the Susquehanna Travellers, adding the mandolin and fretless banjo to their sound.

Victorian Dance Ensemble - This year marks the tenth appearance of the Victorian Dance Ensemble at the Gettysburg Music Muster. Founded in 1995, the Ensemble has presented dance demonstrations for the Smithsonian Institution, National Park Service, Civil War Preservation Trust, Pennsylvania Civil War Trails Project, National Civil War Museum, Maryland Historical Society, Pamplin Park, North Carolina’s Museum of the Cape Fear, and numerous other historic sites and museums.

The Ensemble also provides dance instruction and floor managers for balls, including three of the premiere vintage balls in the nation, the Sons of Union Veterans’ Remembrance Day Ball in Gettysburg, the Union League’s Abraham Lincoln Ball in Philadelphia and the Civil War Preservation Ball in the Rotunda of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg.

In addition to dancing, the Ensemble's members present programs on such topics as Civil War era fashions, jewelry, newspapers, photography, weapons, flags, and the roles of civilians, using original artifacts from their own extensive collections.

The Victorian Dance Ensemble is an all volunteer organization, deeply committed to supporting historic preservation and education. Its programs have raised thousands of dollars for numerous organizations. Through 2007, the Ensemble has directly donated more than $19,000 to various preservation and education causes, including the repair of three monuments vandalized at the Gettysburg National Military Park. The Susquehanna Travelers will accompany their performance this year.

2nd South Carolina String Band - New to the 2008 Lineup is the 2nd South Carolina String Band. This year, the 2nd South Carolina String Band is celebrating their twentieth season as an active, vibrant member of the Civil War reenacting community. Though most of them no longer take the field with musket and bayonet as they once did with their namesake unit, Co. I, 2nd SC Volunteer Infantry, they are still as impressive a musical force at major reenactment events as they once were a military one.

The 2nd South Carolina String Band is arguably the best band of its kind in the nation, with credits ranging from Ken Burns films, to Turner Films' GODS & GENERALS, to theme music for the popular video game, The American Civil War, and their four outstanding CD's - ranked in the Top 20 Best-selling in's Civil War Music category. No strangers to performing on the battlefield, in July of 1998, they were the featured band at the installation and dedication of the Longstreet Monument in Pitzer's Woods, and again a few years later at the dedication of the last monument to be placed on the Gettysburg battlefield - that of the 11th Mississippi, on West Confederate Avenue.

The 2nd South Carolina String Band plays the songs and music that moved the American people of the early and mid-nineteenth century. They play the music that was in the hearts and minds and on the tongues of the citizen-soldiers that made up the ranks of the armies of the North and the South as they marched off to take part in the cataclysmic struggle that was to become the defining event of our nation's history. They play it on instruments of the era and in an authentic manner and style that carries the listener back to simpler times. They play with a verve and excitement that infects even the most reserved listener with their own enjoyment and brings back to vibrant life the tumultuous energy of the American experience during the War Between the States. To experience the 2nd South Carolina String Band is, for a moment, to reach out and touch the past.

As Bobby Horton, accomplished musician and widely recognized expert in the field of historical music of the War Between the States has said, "Listening to the 2nd South Carolina String Band is like eavesdropping on history."

The Gettysburg Field Music Muster started during the park’s Centennial Celebration in 1995 and has brought together a variety of music from the Civil War genre. The idea came from former Supervisory Park Ranger John Andrews whose vision was for music to bring about a better understanding to the public of the need for preserving Civil War sites. The international language of music helps to educate and inspire the visiting public as they grasp how far-reaching history can be. Only through that understanding can support for the preservation of all historic places, and National Parks, be realized.



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