WSPA shows “The People’s Forest: Story of the WMNF” at the Rialto

July 31st, 2013 by Lynn

    By Edith Tucker

    etucker@salmonpress.com

    Master of Ceremonies David Govatski, left, Dr. Catherine Amidon, founding director of the Museum of the White Mountains at PSU; Interim Director Ben Amsden of PSU’s Center for Rural Partnerships and producer David Huntley were on hand on Thursday night for the first Coös County screening of “The People’s Forest,” sponsored by the Weeks State Park Association (WSPA).

    LANCASTER – “The People’s Forest: the Story of the White Mountain National Forest,” a new 48-minute documentary by producer David Huntley, had its first showing in Coös County in front of nearly 170 people at the Rialto Theater on Thursday night, thanks to the generosity of the movie theater owners Dave Fuller and Greg Cloutier plus the sponsorship of the Weeks State Park Association (WSPA) that ordinarily presents its programs in the Weeks Lodge atop Mt. Prospect.

    “The People’s Forest” makes it clear that Lancaster native John Wingate Weeks of Newton, Mass., for whom the Weeks Act of 1911 is named, played a pivotal role in the creation of the WMNF by forging a coalition of concerned citizens and stakeholders from all walks of life, including his capitalist colleagues from Massachusetts whom he represented in Congress. A highly successful businessman himself, he recognized that it was under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution that the headwaters of navigable streams could be protected, including the Merrimack River on which vast mills in Manchester and Lowell, Mass. depended, as well as the Connecticut, Androscoggin and Saco Rivers. Southern N. H. and eastern Mass. then as now depended on the water flow and hydroelectric power originating in the northern reaches of the Granite State.

    The movie, that includes vintage footage from U. S. Forest Service archival promotional black-and-white movies plus occasional re-enactments filmed elsewhere, also features a number of New Hampshire experts on why at the turn of the 20th century the White Mountains were stripped of much of their timber, causing erosion and wildfires. This encouraged men and women to fight to have Congress succeed in allowing the federal government to buy land to create the Eastern National Forests. Most of the commentators who were filmed also served as members of the Weeks Act Centennial Committee: Dave Govatski of Jefferson of the WSPA; historian Rebecca More, a Weeks’ descendent; WMNF Supervisor Tom Wagner; Jane Difley, president-forester of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests; Policy Director Susan Arnold of AMC; and Jasen Stock of the N. H. Timberland Owners Association.

    Producer, director, and scriptwriter David Huntley of Moore Huntley Productions, whose great grandfather immigrated to Berlin from Norway in 1903 and worked for the Brown Company for 40 years, wore his Limmer hiking boots for his introductory talk on Thursday night. Huntley said he had worked in the AMC hut system and was thrilled to have been tapped to make the film, which cost approximately $200,000, including monies spent to clean up USFS archival films.

    Huntley thanked the many people who researched the story as well as those at PSU who preserve and make accessible the region’s rich history. A short 14-minute version is already available on the web. The longer version will likely be on TV at some point during the coming year.

    Govatski and More were on hand on Thursday night as were Committee members Rebecca Oreskes of Milan and Prof. Vince Lunetta of Bethlehem, plus WSPA president Dave Tellman of Bethlehem and vice president Lynne Holland of Jefferson, Will Abbott of the SPNHF, and retired county forester Sam Stoddard of Lancaster, a WSPA board member.

    Project partners were also represented, including Dr. Catherine Amidon, founding director of the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University (PSU) and Ben Amsden, Interim Director of PSU’s Center for Rural Partnerships.

    Music composed for NH’s grand hotels revived

    June 17th, 2013 by Lynn
       

      In this undated handout photo provided by Rick Russack of White Mountain History a band poses for a photo at the Mt. Kearsarge House in North Conway, N.H. More than a century after orchestras at New Hampshire's grand hotels played music composed especially for them, Plymouth State University is bringing back some of the long-lost tunes. (AP Photo)

      By Holly Ramer, AP

      PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — More than a century after guests at the Crawford House awoke to the “Breakfast Bell Polka,” Plymouth State University is reviving some of the long-lost music composed specifically to entertain guests at New Hampshire’s grand hotels and keep them coming back for more.

      The resorts that drew thousands of wealthy summer tourists from Boston and other cities in the late 1800s were feasts for the senses: The Profile House menu featured scalloped oysters and “saute of giblets,” while the Flume House invited guests to inhale cool mountain breezes “loaded with the perfumes of the forest and wild flowers.” And music was everywhere, said Catherine Amidon, director of the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State.

      Songs were composed for the hotels’ in-house bands and orchestras, and guests were sent home with sheet music souvenirs. The hope was that hearing the music during the off-season— and looking at the scenic prints and paintings many tourists also took home — would inspire guests to plan return trips, Amidon said.

      “A lot of those compositions were lost but what has survived has been piano solos because they rewrote the music for people to play at home in the winter on their home pianos,” she said. “It was part of the whole explosion of tourism.”

      At Amidon’s request, Plymouth State music professor Mark Stickney spent months researching the music and creating new arrangements for the songs, some of which were performed Wednesday in Boston, likely for the first time in decades. Stickney, who has worked on a similar project involving the music of Newport, R.I., delved into the Library of Congress and other repositories of public domain music to track down songs like the “Glen House Galop” and the “Mount Washington March.” He studied old photographs of the hotels, then used high-tech computer software to create new arrangements.

      Of the roughly 20 pieces he turned up, Stickney said, he’s partial to the three meal-time polkas composed for the Crawford House, because the composer, Patrick Gilmore, was prominent at the time and the music is simply fun. That was evident, he said, when the piano and clarinet duets he arranged based on the music were performed last week at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

      “The genuine glee on these people’s faces was unreal,” he said. “It was kind of surprising, in a good way.”

      Clarinetist Matthew Marsit said he appreciated the opportunity to play styles of music such as polkas and waltzes that have faded away.

      “It was obvious they were crafted originally with someone with skill writing for instruments,” he said. “They brought forward a little bit of playful challenge, and Mark just set them beautifully. It really allowed for a lot of musical conversation between me and (Constance Chesebrough) on piano.”

      Marsit and Chesebrough performed before and after a panel discussion about the grand hotels, against the backdrop of an “Art of the White Mountains” exhibit at the Boston museum. And while the focus was on the past, Amidon said, the goal also was to get audience members thinking about their future travel.

      “People now don’t necessarily plan a year in advance, but here it is June. Hopefully this is a good time for people to think about coming up,” she said.

      Inaugural exhibit is up at PSU’s Museum of the White Mountains

      February 28th, 2013 by Michael

        PSU Opens Museum of the White Mountains

        February 21st, 2013 by Michael

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