South Street Seaport Museum’s monthly sea-music events Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music––the original NYC chantey sing––continues in-person and virtually on Sunday, February 5, 2023, at 2pm ET, in the Seaport Museum galleries at 12 Fulton Street, NYC, and on Zoom. This Winter, each of the Museum’s Sea Chantey events will include a 45-minute performance by various local artists singing a variety of traditional maritime work songs and ballads. Attendees are invited to sing along with the featured guests or just sit back and enjoy their performance. Following the set, the stage will open for a round-robin where attendees––in-person and virtual––can sing and share their favorite Chantey that will be heard by all. Singers of all levels, as well as listeners, are welcome to join in the choruses throughout the event, lead or request a song in the round-robin, or just listen as we present traditional maritime work songs and ballads on the first Sunday of every month. The event is FREE. For more information and to sign up, visit seaportmuseum.org/chanteysing.
Before and after the sing, in-person participants are invited to tour the Seaport Museum gallery exhibitions at 12 Fulton Street, as well as visit the 1885 tall ship Wavertree and the 1908 lightship Ambrose on Pier 16, all free of charge.
“The fanciful lyrics and portraits of a far-off life at sea were a perfect balm for people across the country and world dealing with the continued fallout of the pandemic and lockdowns…” – Daily News
“The Museum is really open about this idea that some beloved sea chanteys are racist or sexist. I love that they call it out! There’s also a chat where you can talk about this and talk about the context as the song is happening.”
– Jennifer Vanasco, WNYC Radio
After years of meeting in person on the historic tall ship Wavertree, the South Street Seaport Museum’s Chantey Sing transitioned to a virtual format at the height of the pandemic, and quickly became the world’s preeminent virtual Chantey Sing. To avoid the cold Winter weather, the Museum’s Chantey Sing will continue to use the successful hybrid format throughout the Winter season. This inclusive format better accommodates professionals and amateurs, old salts and new initiates, from across the street, across the country, and across the pond. South Street Seaport Museum actively recruits and supports new and diverse singers for each song.
“A fine mix of familiar songs and some new ones that should be better known. The fact that performers came from all over, from the Netherlands, the UK, Canada, and across the US, gave a wonderful feeling of this special musical community we all share,” wrote one participant.
“This venue draws some excellent, knowledgeable singers and I always learn. Today I came away with four songs I wanted to learn,” wrote another participant. “Joy!”
Old-time sailors on long voyages spent months living together in close quarters with no outside entertainment, no new people to interact with, a monotonous diet, and each day just like the day before. How did they keep their spirits up? Singing together! Work songs and fun songs, story songs, and nonsense songs, songs of nostalgia and songs of up-to-the-moment news—all were part of the repertoire onboard. At South Street Seaport Museum, the chantey tradition lives on. February’s Chantey Sing includes a 45-minute performance by Sean and Deirdre Murtha, featuring traditional chanteys from around the world, as well as maritime songs and ballads accompanied by a variety of instruments––with plenty of opportunity for singing along.
“Sea chanteys fit in beautifully with the New York tradition,” said Norwitz. “Sailing ships were a melting pot of languages and cultures, and chanteys and forecastle songs, along with hard work and shared challenges, helped sailors merge into one community. When we sing these songs today—some old, and some updated with up-to-the-moment lyrics—we celebrate our connection with our maritime heritage and also with the community we create by enjoying home-made music together.”
Before attending, be sure to review the Museum’s latest COVID-19 protocols.
Sean and Deirdre Murtha, of Norwalk, CT met in the vibrant Irish music scene of New York City in the 1990s. They enjoy connecting Irish traditional to Old-time Appalachian and Maritime music, tracing common folk through song who have traveled for work, pleasure, or simply to find a better life. From ballads to songs of immigration to lively dance tunes, the Murthas sing in harmony and play a variety of instruments, including fiddle, banjo, bouzouki, guitar, bodhran, mandolin, dulcimer, tin whistle, harmonica, ukulele, and piano. Deirdre has been singing maritime music with South Street Seaport’s resident group The New York Packet and the NY-based female quartet The Johnson Girls for over 25 years. Deirdre and Sean host a monthly Chantey Sing in Rowayton, CT and continue to attend Irish traditional music sessions in the tri-state area.
About the South Street Seaport Museum
The South Street Seaport Museum, located in the heart of the historic seaport district in New York City, preserves and interprets the history of New York as a great port city. Founded in 1967, the Museum houses an extensive collection of works of art and artifacts, a maritime reference library, exhibition galleries, and education spaces, working 19th century print shops, and an active fleet of historic vessels that all work to tell the story of “Where New York Begins.” seaportmuseum.org
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