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Lecture at the Moravian Archives
by Jeffrey Gemmell, Millersville University of Pennsylvania / Moravian Congregation at Lititz
(snow date on February 25)
Originally founded in late 1760s, when the congregation established a fund for music and supplies, the Lititz Collegium Musicum consisted of the instrumentalists who gathered regularly to enhance worship with music. The original Collegium provided an opportunity for these accomplished musicians to rehearse and perform for practice, entertainment, and enlightenment outside of worship. This also satisfied the community’s continual desire for leisurely music making. The Collegium was the core of what would become the Lititz Philharmonic Society and the Lititz Band in the nineteenth century.
In September 2018, Lancaster County’s newest, yet oldest, chamber orchestra, the Lititz Collegium Musicum, held its inaugural concert in the Fellowship Hall of the Lititz Moravian Congregation. With its new motto, “History You Can Hear,” the goal of the resurrected Collegium is to perform newly edited scores from church’s vast music collection now housed in the vaults of the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem. This repertoire was collected and stored separately from congregational music intended for worship and consists of larger instrumental and vocal works, as well as chamber music for strings and winds. These compositions represent the cutting edge of European musical culture of the period, and larger works include those that typify the genesis of what became the repertoire for the modern symphony orchestra.
Concerts have also included repertoire performed on the 1787 David Tannenberg Organ and a “Museum and Archives Moment,” where instruments from the church’s collection are introduced and played by guest presenters.
Now, following four public concerts, Artistic Director and Conductor, Dr. Jeffrey S. Gemmell, has been invited to present the distinctive results of these endeavors at the Moravian Archives, Bethlehem. Highlights will include discoveries made in exploring and editing the scores found in the vaults, the nature of organizing and performing these concerts, and the reaction and results from players and audience members alike to this new concert series. A stimulating audio-visual presentation will accompany the talk, which includes video excerpts of live performances.
Come and share in this reflection of the artistic and academic understandings gained through the practical means of bringing historic archival manuscripts, aged over 200 years, back to vibrant and exciting musical life today!