Minutes of Sacred Harp Singings

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Potomac River Convention

Washington, D. C.

March 31, April 1-2, 1995

Friday Night, March 31

The sixth annual Potomac River Convention began on the evening of Friday, March 31, with a singing school at Ravensworth Baptist Church, Annandale, Virginia. It was led by Virginia Ely of North Reading Massachusetts, who taught fundamentals of shape-note singing with emphasis on song leading, using handouts on these subjects prepared by her.

Saturday, April 1

The Saturday session was held at the Pohick Episcopal Church, Lorton, Virginia. The class was called to order by Tim Slattery leading the song on page 72b. George Seiler, Chaplain, offered the opening prayer. Leaders: Clare Chapin 178; Peter Pate 298; Tim Slattery 200. Then a business session was called, and the following officers were nominated and elected by acclamation: Chairman—Peter Pate; Vice Chairman—Miriam Kilmer; Secretary—Clare Chapin. Leaders: Peter Pate 348 (t? b?); Alix Baillie 312 (t? b?); Steven Sabol 110; Joyce Saxon 236; Evan Duncan 487b; Mary De Nys 448b; Mimi Stevens 546; Louis Naylor 452; Leslie Kostrich 56b; Kacy Pate 315; Gerry Hoffman 168; Lillie Wade 480; Katherine Manning 192; Marty De Nys 547; Ruth von Fleckenstein 107; Blake Morris 81 (t? b?); Mary K. Friday 276; Janine Smith 282; Kelly Macklin 197.

RECESS

Peter Pate reassembled the class leading songs on pages 37b, 155. Leaders: Jenny Wootten 344; G. C. Waldrep 269; Terry Wootten 201b; Mel Kersey 120; Jamie Dalton 280; Tom Gibney 501; Shane Wootten 171; Gail Doss 128; Syble Adams 163 (t? b?); Jeff Sheppard 263; Veneta Wootten 45 (t? b?); Gary Smith 569b; Shelbie Sheppard 216; Phillip Wootten 30 (t? b?). George Seiler then offered grace.

LUNCH

Miriam Kilmer reconvened the class leading 162. Peter Pate then announced the committees: Arranging—Tom Tucker, Alix Baillie, Pat Temple, and Bob Hall; Finance—Cathy Tucker, Bob Hall, and Steven Sabol; Memorial—Amanda Denson and Miriam Kilmer; Resolutions—Kacy Pate and Kelly Macklin. Leaders: Frederick Beardsley 127; Sarah Smith 354 (t? b?); Ginnie Ely 446; Amanda Denson 189; Dan Brittain, “Steel” (a new composition by him); Joan Aldridge 198; Paula McGray 424; Ron Craig 117; Michele Biery 532; Eric Bean 70b; Jean Seiler 455; Joe Beasley 375; Elizabeth Cusick 277; Frederik Rasenberger 317b; Howard Denson Brady 454; Paul Gauthier 111b; Jerilyn Schumacher 504; Chris Thorman 297; Bobbie Goodell 38b.

RECESS

Peter Pate reassembled the class leading song on page 495. Leaders: Tom Tucker 163b; Brad Oglesby 340; Reba Dell Windom 186; Barbara Swetman 148; George Seiler with Virginia Douglas 268; Bob Parr 215; James Nelson Gingerich 102; Roland Hutchinson 479; Gina Balestracci 146; Walter Hartley 299; Elise Meyer-Bothling 147 (t? b?); Joanne De Voe 49 (t? b?); Brenda Pena 229; Leyland delRe 36 (t? b?); Frank Evans 284; Joseph Christopher and Karen Foley 254.

RECESS

Leaders: Ella Wilcox 66; Bob Hall 112; Phyllis Gonigam with Mimi Stevens 84; Tom Padwa 551; Lee Schumacher 40; Dorthy Hurley 271 (t? b?); Tim Wheeler 142; Rhonda Hendershot 300; Hardin King 59. Announcements were made. Peter Pate led 181 as the closing song, and George Seiler offered a closing prayer.

SATURDAY EVENING

That evening, a barbecue dinner party was held for the singers at the home of Leanne Wiberg. In addition, 14 members and friends of the Wootten family performed Sacred Harp singing at the Barns of Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia, as part of the Smithsonian Institution Folk Masters concert series. The concert and the Potomac River Convention were reviewed by music critic Geoffrey Himes in the Washington Post of April 4, 1995.

Sunday, April 2

The Sunday session was held at Hearst Hall, National Cathedral School, next to the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D. C. Peter Pate called the session to order leading 34b, 85, 37b. George Seiler offered the opening prayer. Leaders: Janine Smith 496; Tom Padwa 130; Joyce Saxon 99; Steven Sabol 275 (t? b?); Amanda Denson 276; Eric Bean 102; Paula McGray 286; Frederik Rasenberger 159; Bobbie Goodell 421; George Seiler 49b; Elizabeth Cusick 178; James Nelson Gingerich 556; Gina Balestracci 223; Blake Morris 211; Ginnie Ely 419; Jeff Sheppard 142; Miriam Kilmer 86; Michele Biery 67; Bob Parr 502; Kelly Macklin 399b; Carol Clarke 51.

RECESS

Peter Pate reassembled the class leading song on page 32 (t? b?). Leaders: Roland Hutchinson 114; Hardin King 45 (t? b?); Jean Seiler 442; Sarah Smith 146; Charles Wells 84; Dan Brittain 138 (t? b?); Jerilyn Schumacher 497; Tim Wheeler 224. The Memorial Lesson followed. Amanda Denson reflected on the recent loss of loved ones and Sacred Harp singers of Alabama. She reminded us, God does not make any mistakes. We are all only one breath away from eternity. Our lives are in God’s hands. Miriam Kilmer reflected on the recent loss of her father and expressed appreciation to the class for being a part of a loving and caring community. In honor of her father, she led 504. Dan Brittain then led 425b for the following sick and shut-ins : Virginia—Jan Adkisson, Betty Ann Armstrong, and Renate Arlt; New York—Grace Senia; South Carolina—Marjorie Dornbirer; Connecticut—Nora Brignolo; Georgia—Ted Saxon and Hayes Powell; Massachusetts—Richard Atherton; Illinois—Ted Mercer; Berea, Kentucky—Edward Acevedo; Maryland—Terra McFee; Austria—Gerhada Falkensammer; Denmark—Bodil Friis; California—Pat Pate. Blake Morris then led 383 for his great-aunt Janie and for the following deceased of the Mid-Atlantic region: Virginia—Jim Posey, Kenton Kilmer, Woodrow Wilson Crady, Russell Woollen, Charli Steven, and Hardin A. King; Maryland—Marty Cook, Minnie Clayton Oglesby, and Glenna Centa (longtime Sacred Harper). Eric Bean led 47b for the following deceased from the Northeast: New York—Sandy Thacher, Clara Ella Gerin Lozier, and Beth Rose; Connecticut—Frann Kravats and Jim Ramey; Pennsylvania—Buddy Lake; Massachusetts—Donald Demeritt. Linda Thomas led 503 for the following deceased from the South: Florida—George Klein, Neil Chapin, Kay Chapin, Dorothy Taggart, and Kathleen Mattson; Georgia—Kevin Buerger and Stella Smith; Alabama—Edward Swetman, Sr., Sam Fowler, Ted Godsey, Rex Godsey, Lessie Cates, Winford Lacey, Lois Green, Helen Ivey Cordell, and Mary Morris. Shelbie Sheppard reflected on the deaths of life-long devoted Sacred Harp singers in the South, and led 28b for the following deceased from the West and from other nations: Wisconsin—Sargent Gerald Amundson; Washington—Alma Gonigam; California—Mike Jorgensen; Austria—Gersela Steinberger; Germany—Alice Peterman. Jerilyn Schumacher led 122 for the following deceased from the Midwest: Illinois—Marjory Ryle and Rev. Mike Matoin; Ohio—Tim Zahniser; Indiana—Marlin Miller. Amanda Denson closed with the following remarks: “Every life should be a song, and we should all sing it in a major key.” Ella Wilcox then led 228 and George Seiler offered grace.

LUNCH

Peter Pate reassembled the class leading 145b. Leaders: Cullen Wade 35; Bev Oneida (with visiting relatives) 291; Leyland delRe 165; Kelsey and Anna Taylor 388; Paul Gauthier 492; Reba Dell Windom 196; Brad Oglesby 192; Beth Hoffman 385 (t? b?); Joe Beasley 436; Leslie Kostrich 31 (t? b?); Gary Smith (with visiting cousins) 569b; Sue Hanson 269; Dorothy Hurley 163 (t? b?); Cheryl Stafford 143; Walter Hartley 24b; Barbara Swetman 353; Shelbie Sheppard 327; Karen Snowberg 148; Branda Pena 317b; Alix Baillie 268.

RECESS

Peter Pate reassembled the class leading 39 (t? b?). Leaders: Guy Bankes 481; Kacy Pate 384; Elise Meyer-Bothing 147b; Rhonda Hendershot (with her children and brother Eric Bean) 480; Ron Davies 273; Mary K. Friday 191; Katherine Manning 137; Mimi Stevens 415; Phyllis Gonigam 479; Evan Duncan 66; Clare Chapin 93; Karen Foley 106; Louis Naylor 535. The committees then gave their reports: Bob Hall for the Finance Committee reported that $1953 had been collected in contributions, which when supplemented with proceeds from tape sales, would cover convention expenses. Steven Sabol for the Locating Committee announced that because the regular weekend of the convention falls on Easter in 1996, the convention most likely will be held on the fourth Sunday weekend in April—1996 ONLY. Consult future Sacred Harp newsletter issues for final dates and locations. Kacy Pate for the Resolutions Committee thanked the officers and committee members, as well as the following: the Folklore Society of Greater Washington for continuing sponsorship over the years; Ginnie Ely for teaching the singing school; Karen Foley, Cathy Tucker, Linda McKay, Sue Zhang Sabol, and others for coordinating and presenting the potluck dinners; all who brought generous amounts of food; Mary and Marty De Nys for coordinating housing and hospitality; Leslie Kostrich and her corps of volunteers for registration; Ella Wilcox for coordinating child care; and Leanne Wiberg for hosting the Saturday evening party at her spacious home. Peter Pate then led 62 as the closing song, and all who wished took the parting hand. George Seiler offered the closing prayer. The following states and countries were represented: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, District of Columbia, Canada, Japan.

Chairman—Peter Pate; Vice Chairman—Miriam Kilmer; Secretary—Clare Chapin.