Joyce Marie Taylor
Sunday, Jan. 13, was National Stephen Foster Day, a time to celebrate and honor the “Father of American Music”, Stephen Foster (July 4, 1826-Jan. 13, 1864).
It was nearly standing room only inside the Carillon Bell Tower at Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park on Sunday, Jan. 13, as folks came out to listen to a live concert on the carillon bells, as well as musical performances by Michael Vickey on the Hammered and Appalachian Dulcimer, Jan Krautheim on piano and guitar, and the reigning Stephen & Jeanie, Christopher Longo and Jessica Bianco.
As expected, White Springs’ very own storyteller/historian Johnny Bullard did a fabulous job as emcee, even though he was recovering from a bout of the winter sniffles. The gathered crowd of about 200 people joined Bullard in singing Foster's most famous song, “Old Folks at Home.”
Bullard was followed by events supervisor Elaine McGrath who welcomed everyone to the park and to the ceremony honoring Stephen Collins Foster and his legendary music.
This year's Stephen and Jeanie performed a variety of songs, accompanied by Nadiya Caspary on the piano, and the audience showed their appreciation with loud applause after each set.
Bianco graduated from Stetson University in Deland, Fl. last year and currently resides in Pembroke Pines in South Florida. She teaches voice and piano.
Longo hails from Tampa and is a senior at Florida State University. He started out playing violin, he said, but a teacher convinced him to take voice studies. Once he graduates he plans to audition wherever he can and see where it takes him.
A special treat at the end of all the performances was Longo's beautiful rendition of “Quanto 'e bella” from L'Elisir d'Amore by Gaetano Donizetti, which was deserving of a standing ovation.
A delightful assortment of finger sandwiches, fruits, veggies and desserts awaited everyone after the last song of the day where everyone ventured outside to listen to Nancy Metzger, as she played “Amazing Grace” on the carillon bells.
It was truly an enjoyable afternoon of music and memories as everyone visited together on a gorgeous Sunday in the park.