- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 3, 2001

Possibly the last image that comes to mind when one pictures the Pilgrims is a joyous scene charged with music and dance.
Those early settlers endured punishing winters and the mysteries of an unknown land. They also took time for rollicking entertainment, says Tina Chancey, co-director of Hesperus, an Arlington-based group that performs music from America's earliest incarnation.
Their latest concert, "Did the Pilgrims Ever Have Fun?" will be held at 10 this morning at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department on Lee Highway and North Pollard Street in Arlington.
The concert spans the time from the Pilgrims' arrival on our shores to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The sounds filling the fire hall might be unfamiliar to most, but Miss Chancey says patrons should not be discouraged from sampling the nation's rich musical history.
"You don't have to know anything [about the music] to like it," says Miss Chancey, who along with her husband, Scott Reiss, explains the music's origins between numbers. "It's lively music. You can dance to it."
Miss Chancey, her husband and four other musicians will play more than a dozen classic instruments, such as the hammered dulcimer and viola da gamba.
The all-ages show will conclude with a social and refreshments.
The Pilgrims, Miss Chancey says, brought music from England, Scotland and Ireland restrained parlor music suited for after-dinner accompaniment.
"It was very polite," she says of the English country dances, which featured repeating bass patterns.
"As settlers forgot their roots, a new style evolved," she says. "We trace that evolution."
Other influences crept into the country's musical fabric. Miss Chancey cites French cotillion dances, "spirited and bouncy" numbers that she compares to contemporary square dances.
The new, raw American music suited the emerging nation. Some of the songs fueled the Revolutionary War contingent. Musicians "were trying to rally others around the cause," she says.
Miss Chancey says she and her husband devote some of their time to researching the country's musical past, with the Library of Congress providing a wealth of information.
Hesperus, founded in 1979 by Mr. Reiss, plays an assortment of medieval, Renaissance and baroque concerts, what Miss Chancey calls a traditional fusion of early music and American folk with dollops of Cajun and Appalachian tunes.
"It's eight centuries of music from four continents," says Miss Chancey, whose group contributed music to the 1999 film, "Sleepy Hollow."
Hesperus also will perform a concert of medieval music, dubbed "Miracles," at 3 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Rosslyn Spectrum in Arlington.
Tickets for today's show are $10 per family. For more information, call Hesperus at 703/525-7550.


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