Listen and learn about Vermont’s musical ladies at the DAR museum

This Saturday, singer and researcher Linda Radtke along with pianist Arthur Zorn will present an hour of music and history, celebrating the contributions of Vermont women to the traditions of parlor songs, women’s club music contests and social reform efforts. The concert will take place at the John Strong DAR Mansion Museum in Addison at 1 p.m.
Oceana Judah, Diane Martin, Edwina Flint and Helen Hartness Flanders (pictured below) represent the richness and invention of the female composers included in the sheet music collection of the Vermont Historical Society.
Radtke and Zorn, both retired teachers, are long-time friends and have sung together for many years. After 31 years of teaching English at Harwood Union High School, Radtke found herself drawn to old sheet music — specifically music composed by Vermont women.
“The composers used to just use their first initials to disguise the fact that they were females,” said Radtke who’s done quite a big of digging into the history of these women at the Vermont History Center in Barre.
“The Vermont History Center has an amazing collection of sheet music,” Radtke said. “I’ve had so much fun in that vault putting on the white gloves and looking through all the old sheet music.”
The earliest piece that will be performed on Saturday is from 1798 “Green Mountain Farmer.”
“They’re songs that nobody’s heard,” said the Middlesex resident. “They’ve been sitting in piano benches since the 1800s.”
Radtke and Zorn travel around the state learning about the town and the history of each piece of music. They go to old churches, grange halls and cemeteries for research… and then stop off for a creemee, of course.
Radtke did sing for the Green Mountain DAR quite a few years ago, and admires that part of their mission is to encourage students to discover the history of their community.
“I’d like to thank the DAR for hosting us,” she said. “It’s a great time of year to enjoy about an hour of songs, in a beautiful space and a beautiful town. Plus it’s a nice place to bring families and explore with kids.”
Not sure if historical music is going to hold your kiddos’ attention? Well Radtke’s 1859 hoop skirt might.
“I wanted to get a costume that reflected what a Montpelier woman might wear at the time these songs were written,” she said. “So I found a picture, and brought to Lois Jackson (a seamstress in Chelsea, Vt.), she first cut the pattern out of newspaper and then made it for me. I call it ‘the couch’ because it reminds me of a couch I grew up with. It’s black watch plaid with droopy shoulders.”
Saturday’s event is free, open to the public and accessible to those with disabilities. Contact the Daughters of the American Revolution at [email protected] or (802) 767-3103 for more information.
— Elsie Lynn Parini contributed to this report.

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