Event Concerts and Performances Live! at the Library: Shaker Community Sing with Kevin Siegfried Event has been updated

Date and Location

Part of Homegrown Concerts and Interviews ; Live at the Library

The event is free, but tickets are required, and there may be special restrictions. Click the "Get Tickets" link below for more information and to secure your ticket.

Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov.

Experienced and non-experienced singers alike are invited to attend and participate in this community sing featuring traditional Shaker songs. Shaker music is a rich and varied body of spiritual folk music and a vital American musical tradition. Though based in Christian values, Shaker songs, like Gospel music, are widely enjoyed in secular contexts, too. “Simple Gifts,” popularized by Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring and sung by folksingers and classical choirs alike, represents only the tip of the iceberg of a tradition that encompasses thousands of songs, hymns, anthems, and dance tunes. Whether lively and joyful, or moving and deeply felt, Shaker spirituals boast a strong sense of melody and feature texts that speak to universal and inspirational themes. Shaker music is community music and comes alive in the context of group singing, and song leader Kevin Siegfried has a passion for sharing his love of this unique and vibrant music. The year 2024 marks the 250th anniversary of the Shakers’ arrival in America, providing a wonderful opportunity to reflect on their enduring legacy.  Kevin will be providing sheets of words and music for participants.

From their inception, the Shakers composed thousands of songs which were an important part of worship. Shakers' earliest hymns were shared by word of mouth and letters circulated among their villages. Many Believers wrote out the lyrics in their own manuscript hymnals. In 1813, they published "Millennial Praises," a hymnal containing only lyrics. The Music division has manuscripts in its collections with such transcriptions. The surviving Shakers sing songs drawn from both the earlier repertoire and the four-part songbooks. They perform all of these unaccompanied, in single-line unison singing. This Shaker community sing will share the music with a wider audience, while staying true to the essential nature of the original songs. Participants will be able to enjoy the rich bounty of music from this spiritual movement that is as old as the United States.

As a composer and arranger deeply committed to the performance and preservation of early American music, Kevin Siegfried has devoted much of his career to raising awareness of Shaker musical traditions. Choral arrangements from his “Shaker Harmony Collection” are published by Earthsongs, G. Schirmer, and E. C. Schirmer, and have been performed and recorded by choirs across the globe. “Lay Me Low,” one of Siegfried’s most frequently performed Shaker arrangements, was sung by The Joint Armed Forces Chorus at the State Funeral of President George H. W. Bush. In recent years, Siegfried has undertaken extensive archival research at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in Maine, the only active Shaker community in the United States. This research has led to multiple collaborations with Brother Arnold Hadd, who carries on the 200-plus-year oral tradition of Shaker song. These collaborations include concert performances at Sabbathday Lake, a film for the American Folklife Center entitled “Shaker Spirituals in Maine,” and the recording of two oral histories for the Library of Congress. Siegfried teaches at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where he teaches songwriting, theory, and piano.

Conductor Frederick Binkholder is the artistic director of the Capitol Hill Chorale, a position he has held since 2000. In 2022-2023, the Capitol Hill Chorale celebrated 30 seasons of concerts in the shadow of the US Capitol and its 23rd season under the baton of Frederick Binkholder. 

Founded by longtime Capitol Hill resident Parker Jayne, the Chorale is an auditioned 100-member ensemble attracting singers from Capitol Hill and the entire metropolitan area. It is characterized by camaraderie, community spirit, and commitment to musical excellence.

On June 1 & 2, 2024, The Capitol Hill Chorale will join forces with Washington Revels and composer-in-residence Kevin Siegfried in two concert performances celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Shakers' arrival in America: Saturday, June 1st at 7:30pm and Sunday, June 2nd at 4:00pm at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church.

Part of Homegrown Concerts and Interviews ; Live at the Library

Generous Support for this event comes from the Capitol Hill Chorale

Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov.

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