2020 Four Nation Concert Series

The landing of the Mayflower on the shores of Massachusetts in 1620 forever changed the history and cultures of four nations: America, England, the Netherlands, and Wampanoag. In 2020 American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society will host a Four Nation Concert Series to examine how the themes of the Mayflower story—exploration, innovation, religious freedom, self-governance, immigration, and Thanksgiving—have been expressed through the historical and more contemporary musical traditions of each nation. Held quarterly in February, May, August, and November 2020, this series combines musical performance with scholarly discussion and features a wide range of artists, instruments, customs, and topics.

Check back for a full list of concert dates and performers!

February 13, 2020

Pilgrims' Progress: Music of the Plimoth Colony Settlers 1590-1650

Featuring Seven Times Salt

American Ancestors Research Center, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

6:00 – 7:30 pm; Cost: $20

Contrary to what the history books tell us, the Plimoth colonists, or “Pilgrims” as they were later called, were a highly diverse, sometimes fractious group of Separatists and Anglicans, religious zealots and irreverent opportunists from many walks of life. They brought with them experiences of music as varied as their reasons for coming to the New World. This hour-long performance follows the settlers from their homes in turbulent 1590s England to religious refuge in the Netherlands, and onward to challenging new lives on the unfamiliar shores of New England. We'll mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing with music of the Elizabethan tavern and theater, spirited catches by Thomas Ravenscroft, selections from the Dutch ‘t Uitnement Kabinet, stirring psalms from the Ainsworth Psalter, and vigorous tunes from Playford's English Dancing Master, all performed with period instruments and dialect.

Seven Times Salt is a Boston-based early music ensemble specializing in repertoire of the 16th and 17th centuries. Praised for creative programming and an “impeccably balanced sound,” the group has performed since 2003 at venues throughout New England including Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Plimoth Plantation, Boston Public Library, New England Folk Festival, WGBH radio, and many others. The group has researched and presented original programs for music festivals, college residencies, theatrical productions, historical societies, and their own self-produced concert series. The musicians of Seven Times Salt delight in blurring the lines between “art music” and folk tunes, and feel at ease performing in the concert hall, the dance hall, or the beer hall! In Winter 2019, Seven Times Salt released their latest album "Pilgrims' Progress," which will be offered for sale after this evening's event.

May 14, 2020

The Beggars’ Songbook: Revolt in the Spanish Netherlands, Historical and Musical Illustration of the Pilgrims’ 10-Year sojourn in the Netherlands

Featuring Long & Away

American Ancestors Research Center, 99-101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

6:00 – 7:30 pm; Cost: $20

In 1608 a group of English Separatists crossed the English Channel to flee religious persecution and begin a new life in the Netherlands. The aspiring young Republic, had so far more or less successfully fought off the oppressive rule of Habsburg Spain in a brutal war (1568–1648) pitching the Dutch “Beggars” (Geuzen) against the powerful Phillip II of Spain. The Pilgrims’ time in the city of Leiden coincided with a nine-year hiatus in the war, a time of relative peace and growing prosperity from 1609 to 1621. The cultural and intellectual atmosphere was one of religious tolerance. The impending end of the truce and the culture shock of living poor lives in a foreign country, however, compelled the Separatists to leave, booking passage on a leaky boat back to Plymouth, England. There they boarded an unremarkable merchant vessel bound for the New World—the Mayflower.

During this performance, you’ll hear examples from the Geuzenliedboek (“Beggars' Songbook”), a popular compilation of political songs, and Valerius’ Neder-landtsche Gedenck-clanck, a history of the war written during the truce years, which was illustrated with songs set to popular melodies from all over Europe. We will hear Dutch songs of political turmoil alongside works by Spanish composers Cabezón and Ortiz to illuminate the musical world of the Netherlands during the Pilgrims’ time there.

Long & Away is a professional consort of viols founded in Boston in 2005. The name is a reference to the music of Orlando Gibbons, beloved composer of English viol consort repertoire. The consort has researched and performed original programs across New England and in New York, including concerts for the SoHIP concert series, New England Viola da Gamba Society, the Gamba Gamut at Boston Early Music Festival, and self-produced concerts. In 2012 the consort received the Silbiger Grant from the Viola da Gamba Society—New England to support performances of vocal works with viols in musically underserved communities. Long & Away has collaborated with English consort Seven Times Salt, vocal ensemble Tramontana, the renowned choir of Church of the Advent, and colleagues in the Boston and New York areas. A CD of a live concert recording of The Beggars’ Songbook will be available for sale.