When thinking of music to fit into the category of “early American,” many genres come to mind.
Traditional songs from the era of the Revolutionary War, early blue grass or even mountain music could be considered.
With all of the options, it can be hard to determine exactly what early American music is.
In a performance titled “And Glory Shone All Around,” The Rose Ensemble of St. Paul, Minn., will seek to answer this very question at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Young Auditorium.
They will present music representing the “American mainland” ranging from the 1700s to the early part of the last century.
Instrumentalist David Burk, who has been a part of The Rose Ensemble for seven years, said he hopes the performance will not only challenge, but also cast new light on students’ previous ideas about what early American music is.
As a group that prides itself on bringing an experience of historical music not often heard, the ensemble is comprised of 12 members which sing and play songs in 25 different languages from a time span of nearly 1,000 years.
For their performance at the Young Auditorium, founder and Artistic Director Jordan Sramek said the ensemble will perform pieces which define the North American vocal tradition. They will play a variety of music including traditional shaker hymns from the 19th century, Acadian dance music and Scottish Gaelic mouse music, he added.
In order to demonstrate the theme of early American music, Burk said he will be playing the early American banjo, the mandolin and guitar. Instrumentalist Ginna Watson will accompany him on several dance tunes from the 17th and 18th centuries.
“I play a fiddle that is an early version of the violin made in the 18th century,” Watson said.
In order to stay authentic, she uses a bow which was also made during the era to play on strings made from sheep intestines.
Aside from bringing historical music to audiences around the world, The Rose Ensemble is also different in the way it acquires music.
“I’m always quick to point out that The Rose Ensemble’s budget for printed score is zero,” Sramek said. “The point is not to be extreme, but to prove that so many resources go into the ensemble.”
Members of the ensemble get a lot of their music from resources found in the Congressional Library in Washington, D.C. They acquire it through print, film and field recordings, which have been translated several decades ago.
Sramek said The Rose Ensemble goes about finding music through the Congressional Library because its mission is to find music in its most pure form, decreases the chance of the music’s dynamic markings, or volume, being edited he added.
Before the performance, there will be a Sound Bites pre-show discussion led by Sramek at 6:30 p.m. in the main lobby of the Young Auditorium. After the show, audience members can attend the Bramblett reception and enjoy conversation with the performing artists.
Tickets cost $22 for the general public and $11 for students.