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Christ Church in Irvington plans festival of ‘American Roots Music’

The Foundation for Historic Christ Church in Irvington is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, the foundation has scheduled several events beginning in September that will appeal to the Northern Neck community and beyond.

September 5 will mark the beginning of a six-week-long exhibition called “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music” sponsored by the Smithsonian, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the Virginia Association of Museums. The exhibition celebrates “roots music”—sacred and secular, acoustic and electric, simple and complex, old and new music that has grown out of American folk traditions.

To introduce “New Harmonies” to the public on Saturday, September 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Christ Church will put on its own Roots Music Festival in the churchyard. Visitors can hear a series of local and regional musicians performing their own special versions of roots music. There will be gospel music, jazz, blues, country, and more.

There will be a “petting zoo,” where people can touch and get to know unique musical instruments. Christ Church Historian Robert Teagle will help children make and play their own musical instruments. There will be lunches for sale for those who will want to stay for the whole day and who don’t want to miss a single performer. The all-day event will be open to the public and the cost will be a donation. Support for this event is provided by Rappahannock Foundation for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and The Chesapeake Chorale.

The Lancaster County Community Library will be the venue for a four-part lecture series on “Roots Music.” For four Wednesday evenings, beginning September 17, speakers will discuss how American music evolved from colonial times to country, bluegrass, blues, and jazz. Open to the public, the cost of these lectures will be a donation to Historic Christ Church.

As a coda to “New Harmonies,” Christ Church welcomes back the Virginia Symphony Ensemble at 3 p.m. on October 12. The ensemble will play selections from Ernst von Dohnanyi and Anton Dvorak, both of whom spent time in America and composed music that reflects American roots. They will also perform contemporary bassist Edgar Meyer’s “Dreams of Flight.” The concert will serve as a fitting conclusion to a wonderful six weeks of New Harmonies. Tickets may be purchased from Christ Church.

For further information, contact Christ Church at 438-6855 or visit

posted 08.18.2008

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