Champlain College will host an evening of vintage Vermont songs from the Llewellyn Collection in collaboration with University of Vermont Associate Professor of Music Wayne Schneider on Thursday, May 22 at 7 p.m. in Perry Presentation room at the College.
Champlain is privileged to house the Llewellyn Collection of Vermont History, a collection that contains publications, artifacts, and ephemera related to the state of Vermont, with a focus on the city of Burlington. Assembled by Vermont collector Lance Llewellyn, the non-circulating collection administered by the Champlain College library contains an assortment of books, maps, souvenirs, postcards and more, as well as 80 scores of sheet music — songs by Vermont composers published between the 1850s and the first decades of the 20th century.
Select scores displayed in the Collection’s dedication exhibit last September caught the eye of University of Vermont music-history professor Wayne Schneider, whose wife, Paula Olsen, works as a reference librarian at Champlain. With the help of archivist Erica Donnis, who began managing the Llewellyn Collection a year ago, Schneider selected 17 pieces of music to resurrect in a concert.
Champlain plans to pay tribute to these songs at the concert in the Perry Presentation room on Thursday, May 22. Schneider will play piano to accompany the soprano/tenor vocal-duo, Mindy and Bill Bickford of Charlotte, Vt. The current Llewellyn Collection exhibit, titled “Marketing Vermont,” will be open to the public before and after the concert.
"There was a whole industry in Vermont of composers and publishers, and a trend of [producing] music for amateur musicians to play in the home," Donnis explained to Amy Lilly of 7Days. Most of the songs cash in on "nostalgia for old Vermont," Donnis continues; "the market was partly people who had moved away."
"This music is not high art," Schneider notes. "It was popular — not only quantitatively, in that it was widely disseminated, but it struck a responsive chord in the hearts of Americans."
For the performance, Schneider has selected songs representing nearly a century of the trend. These include an 1867 love song called "Meet Me Josie at the Gate"; the Bennington Battle Monument dedication song from 1891; the 1909 song celebrating the tercentenary of Lake Champlain's "discovery"; and novelty songs. The last category includes two 1950s songs: one called, "Uh Huh (Meaning Yes)," and an ice-cream-parlor tune that sounds "a little rock and roll," Schneider promises. The concert will conclude with everyone’s favorite 1944 ballad, “Moonlight in Vermont.”
Even the Bickford’s found a connection to the evening’s repertoire. "Lo and behold, two of the songs were written by Mindy's great-grandfather, Frank J. Preston, who started Preston's Jewelers on Church Street," Bill Bickford says. The couple had sung Preston's songs many times around the piano with family, but had no idea they'd been collected and catalogued.
The event is free, but seating is limited. To reserve a seat, please contact Mandy Boyers at email@example.com or 802-651-5837 before Thursday, May 15.
About the Llewellyn Collection:
Lance Allan Llewellyn lives in Burlington and is a longtime friend of Champlain College. He graduated from the University of Vermont with degrees in civil engineering in 1967 and 1972 and later established engineering consulting firms in the Burlington area. His professional work is found throughout Vermont, including numerous projects on the Champlain College campus. An ardent Vermont enthusiast, he has collected Vermont memorabilia throughout much of his life. In 2010, he offered his unique collection to the College, which is dedicated to preserving the spirit and history of Burlington and the Champlain Valley.
Since 2010, the Llewellyn Collection of Vermont History was supported by several gifts from the late Dr. John W. Heisse, Jr. An online catalog is available at http://specialcollections.champlain.edu/digital-collections/
Further information may be obtained by contacting Archivist Erica Donnis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CALENDAR LISTING: “Songs of Vermont: Celebrating Sheet Music in the Llewellyn Collection," Thursday, May 22, 7 p.m. at Champlain College’s Presentation Room in Perry Hall at 251 South Willard St., Burlington, Vt. Limited seating; reservations requested by May 15 to Mandy Boyers, email@example.com or 802-651-5837.
Check out the story, ‘From the Llewellyn Collection, Champlain College Scores a Concert’ by Amy Lilly in 7Days at