Tag Archives: national music museum

Hearing Music in Siouxland again, National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

15 Feb
Acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount is playing a Henry Dobson banjo, which is part of the museum’s collection, which was made sometime between 1853 and 1867 in New York state. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 for expansion and renovations and recently opened the performance auditorium. The renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open again until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I recently visited a museum in which I haven’t ventured into for almost 3.5 years in Siouxland, which closed for renovations and expansion. The addition has been completed with a new performance auditorium but the museum housing the collection of instruments at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD, may not open until 2023 or possibly 2024.

For someone who has never stepped foot inside the historical museum they may be shocked to find such a diversity of musical instruments that have been collected and donated to this facility from ancient to more modern pieces of instrumental music. And the fun part of the museum’s mission seems to be the opportunity to sometimes hear some of the instruments being used in performances by musicians.

That occurred recently when acoustic musician Jake Blount of Rhode Island performed and gave a short oral history of Black and Indigenous groups who used the banjo and fiddle as means of expression long, long before blue grass or old timey country music was given a thought.

National Music Museum Dwight Vaught introduces acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount is playing a Henry Dobson banjo was that was made sometime between 1853 and 1867 in New York state. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not again open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Blount talked about the history of the banjo and how it was created by slaves and its long journey into the mainstream music scene and again how black musicians have once again begun playing it after attempts by white people to disparage the idea of blacks and the their early music by parody of the blackface musicians and entertainers who traveled the country and the world giving a very unflattering portrayal of such “low down and dirty music” that he explained made many black musicians ashamed and embarrassed to play this music for decades. He cited an academic piece by a historian whose name I did catch during the performance but apparently goes into detail about the journey of slaves who escaped to freedom and used their talent journey to a better life and location but who also created lasting music along the way.

I found a piece doing an online search and am not certain if it is the same historian, Laurent Dubois, who writes “a narrative of how this instrument was created by enslaved Africans in the midst of bondage in the Caribbean and Americas. He documents its journey from 17th- and 18th-century plantations to 19th-century minstrel shows to the bluegrass of Appalachia to the folk revival of the mid-20th century. In the process, Dubois documents how the banjo came to symbolize community, slavery, resistance, and ultimately America itself. A historian of the Caribbean and a banjo player himself, Dubois relied on the work of academic historians as well as insights from musicians, collectors, and banjo makers to tell this story.”

Audience members listen to acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

An audience member takes a photo of acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Audience members enjoy acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The new facility in which Blount performed is more of a theatre setting than the previous performance space in the museum, with more seating available, while still retaining its small and intimate space. Performances will again draw the targeted audience the museum had in the past, depending on the time of day and day of performance. And of course over time some of the performances and performers change especially those associated with the university.

I always enjoy my visits and once again look forward to the musical instrument collection being available to view and admire. It is such a different experience that seeing something like this online. And someday it will happen.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

National Music Museum Dwight Vaught introduces acoustic musician Jake Blount performs in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Audience members listen to acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Audience members listen to acoustic musician Jake Blount performing in the newly opened auditorium of the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD. Blount specializes in the music of black and indigenous communities of the southeastern United States. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vemillion, Friday, February 4, 2022 in Vermillion, SD, recently began hosting noon concerts again. The music museum closed in 2019 and the recently opened performance auditorium has been under construction for the past two years, while the renovation of the music museum which houses the permanent collection of historical instruments may not open until sometime in 2023 or 2024. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Expanding History in Siouxland, The National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

14 Jun

An expansion project for the National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota is underway in Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

An expansion is underway for the The National Music Museum in Vermillion, SD, where there is a vast collection of musical instruments on display in Siouxland and now with the expansion more will be seen as exhibit space and restoration space grows. The museum won’t be open again until sometime in 2020. I have enjoyed a few musical celebrations in the small performance space which I understand will be enlarged as will an exhibit area to showcase more instruments the museum has acquired and a larger research facility available for those interested.

So for the time being local residents and visitors can only walk by and speculate about the progress and what might lie in store for them once the expansion project is complete.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

National Music Museum staff move items out of the facility on the campus of the University of South Dakota as an expansion project gets underway in Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

An expansion project for the National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota is underway in Vermillion, South Dakota Friday May 24, 2019 (PHOTO BY JERRY L MENNENGA©)

 

The National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. where inside members of brass quintet play Christmas music. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Day the Music Went Quiet in Siouxland, National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

10 Oct

I found out recently that the National Music Museum located on the campus of the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, SD will be closing for two years for an expansion project of the museum that will add 16,000 square feet of additional space, which includes two floors and an underground level.

The National Music Museum ot the campus of the University of South Dakota, will be closing for a couple of years for expansion and renovation, seen at Vermillion, SD Tuesday, Oct. 2 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

From reading a press release and a current newsletter I found out that the 1910 former Carnegie Library expansion will include extra display area and a new performing space. The museum currently houses 15,000 instruments plus other material associated with them. It will be expanding its restoration area and be adding a dedicated research area.

I have visited the museum a few times taking advantage of free lunch time concerts that are presented there. A real treat to hear accomplished musicians perform their stuff. I especially like the Christmas concerts which gets a person into the mood for the season.

 

 

I will be sad not to hear a Christmas concert this year or next in the museum’s current performance space. It is small and intimate like a group of friends arriving at someone’s parlor to hear a performance. Performances will continue though at other venues on campus with a scheduled Christmas performance on the books. The expansion will benefit the museum though, and its continued service to the world of music and make a living art a little easier to ensure its future and enjoyment of music lovers.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Musical History in Siouxland, National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD

24 Dec

When I attended a brown bag performance at the National Music Museum recently, I spent a little time afterwards walking around and looking at exhibits. It is amazing that some of the instruments on display which covers 2 or more centuries were crafted and played before the United States was even its own sovereign nation.

 

Former University of South Dakota alum, Tom Brokaw even did a voice over on a video about the museum’s collection for the public to view.

The depth of the collection is truly astounding, especially to think they are housed in the Siouxland area, at the University of South Dakota Vermillion campus. Instruments from many cultures and nations. And there are times when people expert and proficient in the field of music come to talk about the various instruments. I have not been fortunate enough to attend any of talks, but hope to in the future.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

Siouxland Christmas cheer, the South Dakota Brass Quintet, Vermillion, SD

15 Dec

Last year and this year in Siouxland I made the time to attend the Christmas brown bag lunch performance of the South Dakota Brass Quintet at the National Music Museum located on the campus of the University of South Dakota, in Vermillion. The five member group play some traditional classical music and then some holiday music, all written for brass, or re-written by a member of the group for their performance. The group includes Rolf Olson, Gary Reeves, Chuck Dibley, Jonathan Alvis and Clayton Lehman. All are affiliated one way or another with the university.

 

Last year I talked with Rolf Olson about the group and what its purpose is. At the 3:20 mark in the video Mr. Olson begins talking about the group. This year I recorded a few songs and shot some images of them performing and the audience in attendance. The performance space is small and is always overflowing. This year it seemed to me that more chairs were added to the performance area, and as always, hot drinks and cookies are provided to celebrate the festive Christmas performance.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Christmas in Siouxland, Vermillion, SD

12 Dec

I attended a brown bag lunch performance last week in Siouxland at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, where the South Dakota Brass Quintet played some classical selections and some Christmas tunes. Group leader Rolf Olson said the group has been playing together the last 20 years, albeit with changing members in recent years. He said all of the members teach at USD, though not all in the school’s music department.

Dr. Deborah Reeves, Curator of Education and Woodwinds of the Music National Music Museum and Associate Professor of Music at USD said a new schedule is out for the brown bag lunch programs for 2014.  The spring 2014 programs are always scheduled for Fridays, 12:05- 12:55 p.m. at the National Music Museum and is free to everyone. January 24: Wilson and McKee, folk duo, Colorado;  January 31: to be announced; February 7: Was There a Piccolo Before Stars and Stripes?, USD’s  Stephanie Kocher with University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Christy Beard;  February 14: Wayne Weng, 2013 Iowa Piano Competition Winner; February 21: A Touch Of Brass, brass quintet, Nebraska;  March 7: Mat D, guitar and Americana singer, Sioux City;  March 21: In Stile Antico, NMM’s  John Koster in a lecture demonstration; March 28: Jack Norton, co-creator and co-star of “The Zinghoppers” PBS-TV series, featuring music of vaudeville jug bands;  April 4:  USD Percussion Ensemble Plays the NMM’s Guatemalan Marimbas;  April 11: Dick Kimmel, early country music master, Minnesota;  April 25: Winds of Change, USD and NMM alumna Amy Shaw, Irish flute, Minneapolis; and May 2: The National Music Museum’s Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan.

 

 

The museum itself is worth a trip and time to spend walking through numerous exhibits of musical instruments from around the world. That is, the New World, and Old World. Wind instruments, brass, Asian, South Pacific, American, rock and jazz as well pianos and variations thereof can be found there.

 

And there will be many more programs occurring in the next couple of weeks as churches and schools and choirs from the area present their holiday finest sharing the Christmas spirit in song and mirth and their brotherly love about the birth of a Savior.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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