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Shape note singing Dec. 7 at Heuvelton’s Pickens Hall, Canton’s TAUNY

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CANTON — Vocal Skies Sacred Harp singing group will give two short concerts of 18th and 19th century Christmas hymns, first at 11:30 a.m. during the holiday open house at Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, 53 Main St., Canton, and at 3:30 p.m. at Pickens Hall in Heuvelton.

The morning concert will run 25 minutes; the afternoon concert about 45 minutes.

Sacred harp, sometimes called “shape-note” singing, is a traditional form of group or community singing. The songs are based on the melodies, harmonies and texts of the early American settlers. It is ordinarily not a performing tradition, but a shared form of social singing where participants sing facing one another without the aid of instruments. Because it was intended for amateur singers singing worship music, it has a powerful and raw sound with unusual rhythms and harmonies.

Vocal Skies is an ensemble of singers from the Canton area that meets weekly to sing from the sacred harp tradition. To learn more about shape note singing, visit fasola.org.

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