Music Returns to Connemara, Carl Sandburg’s Home - TribPapers
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Music Returns to Connemara, Carl Sandburg’s Home

The home of Carl Sandburg at Flat Rock in the Summer.

Flat Rock – Many may not realize that Carl Sandburg, well known American poet and historian, had a deep love of music and recorded a number of records featuring familiar folk songs. As he lectured throughout America, his musical collection grew. He often played solo with his guitar. 

“The American Songbag” established Sandburg as both an important folk singer and a critical advocate for the 

preservation and collection of these songs. In 1950, at 72 years old he published a new edition called “The New American Songbag” for which Bing Crosby wrote the introduction. It enjoyed enormous popularly and had many editions.

On August 28 at 6:00 pm at the National Historic Homesite of Carl Sandburg in Flat Rock, a short drive south of Hendersonville, this musical tradition will be revived. The Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra is leading the way with the HSO Brass Quintet bringing to life a song-and-dance inspired musical portrait of the American spirit. This is the first Benefit Concert given by the Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara. Ice cream refreshments will be available for purchase before the performance. Breedlove Deli will have an ice cream truck on site.  While attending the concert, attendees are asked to maintain social distancing from people not in their group. 

This concert “Take Me to the Water”  is held under the trees of the Carl Sandburg Home amphitheater in Flat Rock, with a limited number of 100 attendees allowed to attend. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at
www.friendsofcarlsandburg.org events. The HSO principal brass quintet, Larry Black and Chris Imhoff on Trumpet, Anneka Zuehlke-King on Horn, Mark Britt on Trombone and Michael Taylor on Tuba continue celebrating  Nina Simone, Sandburg, and the American symphony. A similar concert is to be held at the Nina Simone Plaza in Tryon the night before, Friday, August 27. The musicians want to bring to life a song-and-dance inspired musical portrait of the American spirit. 

The amphitheater at Connemara where musical events will take place.

Program Details of the “Take Me to the Water” Brass Concert

The Hendersonville Symphony.org’s website describes the concert in detail: “The program opens with the world premiere of a dance-flavored fanfare by composer John Muehleisen, winner of a 2020 American Prize for “A Kipling Passion.” Muehleisen is a master of expressive text painting, and two of his most beautiful and elegant choral settings will be featured on the first half of the program, both in HSO-commissioned new arrangements for brass quintet.  “Nocturne” is a setting of Carl Sandburg’s hypnotically pastoral poem “Peace, Night, Sleep.” And, “Portrait” is an iridescent elaboration on a poem of the enigmatic American poet Gertrude Stein, a portrait of the artist Henry Phaelan Gibb.

The concert also features a celebration of the American spiritual and jazz more generally. Highlights include Crys Armbrust’s “Fanfare for Nina,” which was written for the dedication of the Nina Simone sculpture in her Tryon, NC, birthplace. Simone herself recorded several versions of the spiritual “Take Me to the Water,” which is the basis of a new arrangement of the tune by Keelan Lovvorn. Leonard Bernstein’s “Dance Suite for Brass Quintet,” which consists of five portraits of icons of American dance which was the legendary composer’s final work. The concert will conclude with several rollicking tunes straight out of the birthplace of Jazz in New Orleans.

Playful Nubian Goats are found at Connemara.

Monthly Sing-Alongs

A Sing-Along to celebrate the Sandburg family’s love of music and singing is scheduled for September 14 with others later in the fall. The August Sandburg Sing-Along originally scheduled for early August just took place on Tuesday, August 24 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm. This sing-along was led by Tom Fisch and celebrated the birthday of the National Park Service and the Sandburg family’s love of music and singing. The National Park Service was established on August 25, 1916, and was celebrating its 105th anniversary this year.  

The Carl Sandburg Music Festival is held every year on Memorial Day. The festival began in 1987 to honor Sandburg’s efforts to document the history of American music. Sadly, due to Covid 19, the 2021 event had to be held virtually. The 36th Carl Sandburg Music Festival is scheduled to be held May 30, 2022. 

Visiting Connemara

Carl Sandburg Home NHS is open 7 days a week, year-round. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days. The park is located on 264 acres in Flat Rock, three miles south of Hendersonville. It is open seven days a week, year round with no fee charged but is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Days. Visitors can just enjoy themselves by walking around the lake and surrounding property or tour the Sandburg Home with a guide (for a small $8.00 fee), hike on over 5 miles of trails, visit the garden and farm, see playful dairy goats, attend outdoor plays, listen to special talks by Rangers.   Free parking is available at the entrance to the park and nearby.  The average visitor spends approximately two hours at Connemara.

To learn more about the Sandburg Home
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