By Dot Willsey
(Madison County, NY – June 2012) The public was introduced Saturday evening May 19 to Madison County’s cultural and heritage sites, and to the observance of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War with a series of concerts leading up to the 20th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend on June 9 and 10.
The audience entered into 19th Century America through the doors of beautifully renovated Madison Hall in Morrisville. Delicious refreshments were available at the beginning, and throughout, the evening. Women in mid-1800s costumes distributed Madison County Cultural and Historic Passports. President Lincoln, Gerrit Smith, Elizabeth Smith Miller, and Anne Fitzhugh Miller were on hand to autograph passports upon request.
Hugh Humphreys opened the program reminding the audience of the important role that Madison County played in the Civil War. The connection of John Brown to Madison County and the raid at Harpers Ferry was recognized. Magpie, a musical duo that studies the antecedents of the war, with particular attention to John Brown, presented musical compositions on people who strived for the abolition of slavery. Magpie will return with seven other musicians to the Earlville Opera House on Friday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. to present Four Seasons, Four Years ~ The Civil War: A Musical Journey. This ensemble will perform only for the Sesquicentennial years.
Matthew Urtz, Madison County Historian, read a sampling of letters that he will share from collections of letters written by soldiers from Madison County serving in the Civil War at 10:30 am Saturday, June 9 at Peterboro Civil War Weekend. Magpie followed with another set of musical selections from the Civil War era.
Abraham Lincoln and Gerrit Smith will both be present at the 20th Annual Civil War Weekend. Lincoln will be strolling on the green in Peterboro, speaking on his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, and sitting in the front row with Mrs. Lincoln enjoying the annual Saturday night June 9 Civil War concert by the 77th NY Regimental Balladeers. In honor of the Sesquicentennial the Balladeers will present Hard Times Come Again No More: America’s Heart Sings.
Families are encouraged to pick up passports at the twelve participating sites in order to learn about the county’s rich culture and heritage, tap toes at the concerts, and walk back into the mid 1800s in Peterboro on Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10.
The concert events are sponsored in part by the New York State Presenters Network Presenter-Artist Partnership Project with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, a state agency, and the Cultural Resources Council, a regional arts council.
For more information, visit earlvilleoperahouse.com or call 691-3550.