Play Every Town

251 252 Community Concerts for a Cooler Climate


Concert Twenty-Four: 2/12/23 at the Charlotte Congregational Church

...donations benefited 350 Vermont

click any image to enlarge

Charlotte Congregational (1854)
not to be confused with…

...Lakeview Seminary (1881)

The room awaits

The Charlotte Congregational Church was founded in 1792. Less than a mile away is the former Lakeview Seminary where John Dewey taught his one and only year of primary school in 1881-82. The great American education reformer, looking back on this time, said he realized that classroom teaching was not for him, confirming the old saying “Those who cannot do, teach; those who cannot teach become educational theorists.”

The attendees attend

The program

Cameron Brownell fills in Charlotte

For this concert I was joined by the Charlotte Congregational Choir, and separately by its director, tenor Cameron Brownell, who is also the choral-vocal teacher at Champlain Valley Union High School. Cameron brought down the house with a lovely set of three Fauré songs well chosen for an early Valentine’s Day. The choir sang a couple of numbers including the hymn “Charlotte” by Joel Harmon (1762-1838). Harmon was a composer and merchant who lived in Pawlet Vermont from the early 1770s to 1811. In Protestant hymnody, tunes and settings have standard nicknames acquired in all sorts of ways. I don’t know the specific history of Harmon’s “Charlotte” but many hymns of this era are named for New England towns. Traveling singing schools were a mainstay of early 19th musical life in the states and it is likely that hymn-book publishers and “singing masters” (singing school instructors) like Harmon named tunes for particular towns as an enticement to attract or gratify pupils from those places.

Scarlatti Sonata in A major, no. 24
(preceded by 24 ii-V-I’s)

Cameron Brownell sings three Fauré songs

Joel Harmon “Charlotte”

...about the piano

Steinway serial no. 146,803 was made in 1911—Steinway’s most productive year, with over 6,000 pianos manufactured.

A church member who was at the concert came up afterwards and asked how I liked the piano. It turned out she had given it to the church, anonymously, in recognition of her 80th birthday. What a fine thing, to celebrate one’s birthday by giving. And she was not just cleaning house: rather, she reached out to piano rebuilder Allan Day asking if he knew of a suitable instrument she could buy and donate. I’ll let Allan continue the story:

“That piano was owned by the Weed family. The patriarch was a physician in his nineties who loved playing. I tuned the piano at his place in Underhill for over 10 years. When he died, the children contracted me to rebuild the instrument.

I learned that there was a connection between the Charlotte Congregational church and the Weed family. When you offered to provide the funds to the church to purchase the piano it was fabulous! The talented Claire Black and members of the church came to hear the piano in my shop and the decision was made to accept it.”

The church also had an Estey organ, as Vermont churches so often do, which I used to accompany the choir in “Charlotte”.

back to main concerts page

last updated March 17, 2023