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Maine’s 200th: Music of Early Maine

April 23, 2020 @ 2:00 pm 2:45 pm

Photo by Scott Sell

A music performance by the DaPonte String Quartet

“Maine’s 200th: Music of Early Maine” is the DaPonte String Quartet’s tribute to Maine’s Bicentennial. Along with guest artist Eric LaPerna (percussion), the program highlights significant events along Maine’s pre-statehood timeline (from the 16th to the early 19th centuries), with selected music to share some of the cultural influences.

When the quartet learned about the notated songs of Membertou (c. early 1500s–1611), a major shaman-chief of the Mi’kmaq nation, the idea for this program began to percolate. What music might there have been as so many different peoples explored, fished, and colonized Maine’s rocky coast and European influences began to permeate the land? But we have only a scant trace of documented music from northeastern North America in this early period, making the written record of Membertou’s songs, and one young colonial bachelor’s dance book found in Topsham, so valuable.

Music played a vital role in indigenous communities; European sailors sang chanteys to accompany their work; and all communities blessed their watercraft with traditional music. Noblemen and naval captains would have heard the latest music in Europe. French Jesuit missionaries brought their musical liturgy and passed it on to new generations of Catholics. Publications of the latest English dance tunes sold like hotcakes when they arrived in Boston in the 18th century. But aside from such generalities, we can only speculate about what music might have been in the air, and crossing the seas, “earworms” perhaps, of the people who lived in what we now call Maine.

The chronological arc of this program of early Maine music traces a long period of lasting European colonization in the region. Over time, English military forces in combination with colonial and imperial policies as well as deadly pathogens that devastated native villages led to Euro-American dominance in the region. In the face of this onslaught, Native American persistence in Maine, and the trans-national northeast more broadly, stands as witness to a remarkable human accomplishment built upon the adaptive skills and knowledge that are the foundation of indigenous cultures and societies.

Music for “Maine’s 200th: Music of Early Maine” performed by the DaPonte String Quartet with guest artist Eric LaPerna on percussion

Songs of Chief Membertou –

                Trad. Mi’kmaq

                transcribed by Marc Lescarbot (1606/7)

                arr. by Gabriel Sagard Theodat.


                Trad. Basque tune

                arr. by Ferdinand Liva

Imperii proceres

                Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450–1517)

Four Songs from Canconiero de Palacio 

                Juan del Encina (c. 1468–d. 1529/30)

                Todo los bienes

                Más vale trocar

                Levanta, Pascual

                Hoy comamuos y bebamos

Sir Walter Raleigh’s Galliard          

                attr. to Francis Cutting (1550–1603)

A Sad Pavane for these distracted times                

                Thomas Tomkins (1572–1656) 

                arr. by David Byers

Les Bergers et Les Ameriquaines from Concert Donné à Louis XIII en 1627 par les 24 Violons et les 12 Grand Hautbois

                Anon., arr. by Kirsten Monke

Ballo del granduca          

                Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562–1621)

Concert pour Quatre Parties de Violes

                Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643–1704)


                Sarabande, Rondeau

                Gigue anglaise

                Gigue française


The Birks of Abergeldie from Henry Playford’s Original Scottish Tunes

                Anon. (1700)

“Little Ben” A Country Dance from Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450–1517)

                Arr. by Myles Jordan

Prelude from Te Deum

                Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643–1704)

Not long after forming in Philadelphia 28 years ago, the DaPonte String Quartet surprised the musical world by moving from a cosmopolitan urban area to rural Maine. The DSQ had been — and continues to be — sought after to perform and teach all over the U.S. and around the world. They have appeared in France, Scotland, Canada, and more than twenty American states. Their performances have been broadcast over nation-wide radio and television programs in both the United States and Canada. They have received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Philadelphia Musical Fund Society, the Music Teachers National Association, Chamber Music America, and have participated in several of the nation’s most prestigious concert series to rave reviews.

Cost: $30; $15 members

16 Museum Street
Rockland, ME 04841 United States