Strike up the band! Celebrating musical heritage and technological ingenuity in Winchester

See all news

Did you know that the bucolic town of Winchester, New Hampshire was the home of both the first pipe organ constructed in American as well as the nation’s first successful manufacturer of musical instruments?
New Hampshire Humanities has awarded a grant to the Friends of Public Art for a project that will explore and celebrate Winchester’s unique place in music history.
The Winchester Musical Heritage Project begins on Tuesday, August 16 with a lecture titled "Whatever Happened to Yankee Ingenuity?" at 7 p.m. at the Historical Society of Cheshire County in Keene. 
This presentation by Historical Society director Alan Rumrill and music historians Allison and Hunt Smith will explore Winchester’s legacy of manufacturing innovation through the lens of its unique musical heritage, capped with a round table on evolving innovations in business and community. The speakers will investigate the intersection of technology, social capital, and ingenuity in building upon the cultural heritage of New Hampshire.
Winchester will whoop it up at a town-wide Jubilee on Saturday, August 20 (hours were not finalized at press time). Events will take place at venues throughout Winchester including the Town Hall, Conant Library, and the Sweetwater Farm & Distillery.
Winchester had an extraordinary impact on the development of early American music and industry. During the day-long Jubilee, participants will have myriad opportunities to  explore the town and its music history via crosswalks painted as Henry Pratt pipe organ keys and musical staffs from "The Ashuelot Quick Step," a tune composed in 1842 in honor of the town and the Graves & Co. instrument factory. Rumrill and music historians Hunt and Allison Smith will present a keynote address on Winchester’s rich musical history. 
The day will also feature musical performances using both historic and modern instruments, walking tours, and workshops. Robert Perry, executive director of the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham, MA will lead a panel discussion on how Winchester can learn from past innovations as it works to renew its economy and community. 
The Jubilee will close with a musical performance and dance in the Town Hall. Vendor booths featuring musical-instrument makers and innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs from across the region will be part of the celebration. 
For more information, contact Project Director Rowland Russell at 283-2377 or