The sounds of a young nation to be featured

Creating new music is a hobby or passion of many, but for some it is much more.

Patricia Poulter, a professor in the music department and the interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, said that musicians William Billings and Justin Morgan, composers of the 18th century, both considered the development of a new musical style to be their patriotic duties.

Poulter, along with Allen Lanham, the dean of library services, and Elaine Fine, a musician from Charleston, will be presenting a lecture recital today on the music of Billings and Morgan as well as music in general of early America. The lecture will start at 4 p.m. and will be in the Booth Library Conference Room on the fourth floor.

The lecture will feature discussions on not only the works of Billing and Morgan, but will also have musical performances of some of their songs as well as songs that portray early American music. Lanham and Fine will perform together on piano and violin but there will also be vocalists, a fife player and a drummer.

“We want people to realize early Americans were making music and that it related to church and the political situation,” Lanham said. “We want to show people that time in American history they may have forgotten or possibly never known.”

Poulter agreed with Lanham and said the musical style in America at the time was not only different from modern styles of music but was unique to the country at the time.

“They were creating something new, they imported music from Europe but theirs sounded different,” Poulter said. “(The music) served as a way to worship, it developed patriotism and helped build unity in what essentially wasn’t a country yet.”

Poulter also explained that Billings and Morgan were not only prolific composers of their time, but Billings is still well known today as the first-American composer. Billings also published the first-all-American book of music alongside Paul Revere who did the engravings.

“At the time Philadelphia had less than 7,000 people and was a very small community, smaller even than the students attending Eastern,” Poulter said. “Everyone kind of knew each other so there were opportunities to do things together.”

Lanham explained the lecture is part of the library’s larger exhibit on Benjamin Franklin and is part of their effort to “open people up to Franklin and his time.”

“We’ve had science, we have had literature, here is music, this is a way for people to tie things together in their minds,” Lanham said.

Seth Schroeder can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]