Nothing says Harvest Time better than the Portland Sacred Harp Convention. This gathering is in its 23rd year and takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19 at The Laurelhurst Club, 3721 SE Ankeny St. Anyone can be part of a group of up to 150 people from all parts of the world singing together and no experience is required.
The music originates from odes, ballads, and hymns dating from the late 18th Century. The tradition of Sacred Harp singing (“shapenote” singing) began when shapes were added to note heads in written music to help singers find pitches without the use of written cues found in key signatures on the staff. The social approach helps folks come together to make exuberant music, singing unaccompanied four-part harmony for two glorious days.
Singing with shapenote music is taught as music curriculum at colleges around the country: Emory, Yale, Brown, UMass, Evergreen State College and in England, Ireland, Poland and Australia and is a healthful, restorative way to provide comfort and grace.
This year’s convention opens Saturday at 9 am with a shapenote school led by Nathan Rees, who hails from Grand Forks, North Dakota. Tunebooks are available to borrow for the day or can be purchased for $20. There’s a free potluck lunch both days, known as “dinner on the grounds” provided by local singers. The convention is open to everyone of all ages and is free (donations are gratefully accepted). Email firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.portlandsacredharp.org.