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South Street Seaport Museum Announces the Virtual Return of Chantey Sing
May 3, 2020 @ 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
South Street Seaport Museum’s monthly sea-music Chantey Sing returns – virtually. From our living rooms and kitchens, and even from the deck of Wavertree, join our round-robin of shared songs, featuring members of the New York Packet and friends. Listen in, lead or request a song, and belt out the choruses for your neighbors to hear during a Virtual Chantey Sing this Sunday, May 3, 2020 from 2-4pm. The event is FREE. Sign up here to receive the Zoom link 24 hours prior: www.seaportmuseum.org/ChanteySingMay
Old-time sailors on long voyages spent months living together in close quarters with no outside entertainment, no new people to interact with, a monotonous diet, and each day pretty much just like the day before. Sound familiar? How did they keep their spirits up? Singing together! Work songs and fun songs, story songs and nonsense songs, songs of nostalgia and songs of up-to-the-moment news – all were part of the repertoire onboard. At South Street Seaport Museum, the Chantey tradition lives on.
The May singing session will be moderated by Bonnie Milner of The Johnson Girls; Dan Milner, song collector and author; and other members of The New York Packet, a collection of traditional chantey singers in the New York area.
South Street Seaport Museum generously hosts Chantey Sings on the first Sunday of each month from May to September. The sings move to dry dock on first Sundays from October to April at John Street
Though singers and song leaders alike will be logging in remotely, Seaport Museum’s Rigger Siyu Chen will take time from his duties maintaining and preserving the South Street Seaport Museum’s fleet to join on Zoom from the deck of Wavertree, with the East River in the background. All viewers are welcome to lead songs, sing along, or just listen and enjoy.
“Sea chanteys fit in beautifully with the New York tradition,” says Laura Norwitz, SSSM’s Senior Director of Program and Education. “Sailing ships were a melting pot of languages and cultures, and chanteys and forecastle songs, along with hard work and shared challenges, helped sailors merge into one community. When we sing these songs today — some old, and some updated with up-to-the-moment lyrics – we celebrate our connection with our maritime heritage and also with the community we create enjoying home-made music together.”
The New York Packet was established over 30 years ago as the official maritime singing group of South Street Seaport Museum. First singing on the iconic vessel Peking, they have endeavored ever since to keep chantey singing alive in lower Manhattan. Even when the Seaport encountered “heavy weather” during and after hurricane Sandy, the Packet found places to fill with sound while awaiting a return to their beloved ships at the Seaport. In May of 2019, the moment came when the Packet could return and sing aboard Wavertree. It was a magical and welcome moment.
About the South Street Seaport Museum
The South Street Seaport Museum, located in the heart of the historic seaport district in New York City, preserves and interprets the history of New York as a great port city. Founded in 1967, the Museum houses an extensive collection of works of art and artifacts, a maritime reference library, exhibition galleries and education spaces, working nineteenth century print shops, and an active fleet of historic vessels that all work to tell the story of “Where New York Begins.” www.southstreetseaportmuseum.org
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