On Saturday, May 2nd, Arts Council of Tamworth will present Revels Repertory Company’s new musical theater production, Voices from the Mountain, at the K. A. Brett School Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Voices is based on the life of New England native Olive Dame Campbell, one of the first collectors of traditional folk songs in the Appalachian Mountains. Born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1882, Campbell graduated from Tufts University before visiting Appalachia with her husband and missionary John C. Campbell. The singing of the English ballad Barbara Allen by a young girl on an Appalachian mountainside captured Campbell’s attention. Struck by the uniqueness of the child’s interpretation and her soulful voice, the Campbells set out to interview the Appalachian people, especially in North Carolina, and collect their music. Later they expanded the project to gathering all the folk arts of the region and established the John C. Campbell School of Folk Arts, which still exists today in Brasstown, NC.
Audiences will share Campbell’s delight in discovering music in this country that had come from England, Scotland and Ireland several hundred years before and was no longer being performed the original style in those countries. While Campbell has now been forgotten by most New Englanders except for folk singers and scholars, the songs that she and her colleague Cecil Sharp published in 1917 in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians were the basis of the American folk song revival of the 1960s and continue to be performed, recorded and taught in schools today. Revels Director Kay Dunlap says, “I always thought songs like ‘The Cruel War’ were written by Peter, Paul and Mary. It turns out that they got it from Campbell’s book.”
The independent film Songcatcher, released in 2001, was based loosely on Campbell’s story. The music for the film was supervised by North Carolina musician and tradition-bearer Sheila K. Adams. Ms. Adams is also the artistic advisor for Revels Rep’s new show and spent several days in Boston in December coaching ensemble members. The music in the show either comes from Campbell’s book or from Adams’ family, some of who provided songs for it.
This staged and costumed production includes the ballads, folk songs, stories, dances, play party games and folk arts of the people the Campbells met. Performers will include Revels Repertory Company’s costumed ensemble of 40 adults and children and guest instrumentalists. The program is appropriate for adults and children age six and up, and contains many opportunities for audience participation.
Tickets for this performance are $5 for children 18 and under, $12 for adults, and $25 for a family. They can be purchased securely here; no fee is charged and tickets will be held for you at the door. Tickets can also be purchased at The Other Store in Tamworth or by calling 603-323-8104.
As part of ACT’s presentation of Voices from the Mountain, the film Songcatcher will be shown on Wednesday, April 29, at 7:00 p.m. at the Cook Memorial Library in Tamworth. This event is free but donations are welcome.
The Remick Farm Museum will also be hosting an event in conjunction with Voices. On Friday evening, May 1, at 6:00, the Museum will offer a fireside stew supper with Revels Director Kay Dunlap. Dunlap will appear in costume to talk about the history of the songcatchers who traveled to Appalachia in the early 1900s to record the music there and about some of the traditional customs of the region in that period. The cost for this event is $4/person, and includes soup, bread and a beverage.
An educational version of the show will also be presented at the Brett School on May 1.
This show is presented in partnership with the K. A. Brett School and funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies. It is made possible through the generous support of the Tamworth Foundation, season sponsor Silver Lake Home Center, presenting sponsor Meredith Village Savings Bank, event sponsors BEAM Construction, The Mad Planter, and Tamworth Family Medicine, co-sponsors InterLakes Family Dental, Ossipee Insurance, and Surroundings Art Gallery, and media sponsors Magic 104FM and 93.5 WMWV and The Conway Daily Sun.