Orpheon Free Choral School Spring Festival: 2nd

Event Information

Academy of Music

Charles Jerome Hopkins

Price: $1; $1.50 reserved

Event Type:

Performance Forces:

Record Information


Last Updated:
18 January 2018

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

09 May 1867, 2:00 PM

Performers and/or Works Performed

aka Pilgrim's Chorus
Composer(s): Wagner
Composer(s): Handel
Composer(s): Mayer [composer]
Participants:  Joseph A. Dawson
Composer(s): Hopkins
Composer(s): Hopkins
Composer(s): Hopkins


Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 04 May 1867, 4.

"The Annual Spring-tide Singing Festival--an extensive entertainment in aid and honor of juvenile musical culture--is appointed to take place at the Academy on Thursday afternoon next. It will comprise a great combination of young choristers from the Orpheon Schools and Public Asylums, to the number of many hundres, under the talented direction of Jerome Hopkins, whose efforst have so often been given to the free choral cause. Mr. J. A. Dawson, a young and highly graceful pianist, who has won a laurel or two abroad, will be Mr. Hopkins's principal assistant, and Miss Beebe, well known in a number of clever concerts, and Mr. Geo. Rockwood and Joseph Jewaft, will appear vocally."

Announcement: New York Herald, 06 May 1867, 4.

"The Orpheonist Singing Festival.

The preparations for the yearly spring tide festival of orpheonists and charity children having been completed, the festival will take place at the Academy of Music on Thursday next, May 9. The Orpheon free schools were established by Mr. Jerome Hopkins about five years ago for the special training of choir boys. Since then almost every boy-choir, including the late 'Cecilian,' in New York and its suburbs, has been indebted to the Orpheon for singers. Later departments for classes of ladies and girls, as well as for young men, were opened, so that in point of comprehensiveness these free schools have never been equalled on this side of the Atlantic. Over seven hundred pupils have been in attendance in these during the past season, and free muscal instruction has been given to over three thousand since they were started. They will, doubtless, as they ought, continue to obtain the favor and support of the community. The yearly festival on Thursday will be the second of these entertainments, and will take place under the auspices of about two hundred of our most distinguished citizens. Theodore Thomas' well known orchestra will support the monster chorus on this occasion, and Miss Henrietta Beebe, Mr. Joseph Jewett, Jr., and Mr. J. A. Dawsom, the pianist, will be among those performing solo parts. The whole affair wil be under the direction of Mr. Jerome Hopkins."

Advertisement: New York Herald, 06 May 1867, 7.
Advertisement: New-York Times, 06 May 1867, 7.
Review: New-York Daily Tribune, 10 May 1867, 4.

“Mr. Jerome Hopkins’s Orpheonic enterprise has come to full flower—we wish we could say to full favor.  The thousand and one superfluous friends of Orpheonists who stayed away from yesterday afternoon’s concert at the Academy lost more or less—the respectable numbers who attended in the interest of hundreds of young boys and girls who celebrated their rise and progress as choristers, pleased themselves, no doubt, and were the gainers.  Mr. Hopkins’s Second Spring-tide Singing Festival was a compliment on a large scale to his own energies as a popularizer of practical music, and above and beyond that a good exhibit of the free choral cause.  It was evidence in mass that when, like other good people, musical folk undertake to benefit the juvenile world.  It is just possible that after great expense of time and temper, children will rise up to call them blessed.  Such a consummation is the Professor’s paradise.  But a hundred or two of small angels in gingham, with all but crowns upon their foreheads and harps within their hands, are a spectacle that rarely comes to apotheosize the labors of master and martyr.  Children do not often rise up in chorus to pipe blessings.  When they do the chorus is likely to be out of tune; and to bless one in long meter and still go wrong, must be aggravating to any but a master-mechanic of psalm-singing.  Although a sight of well-dressed crowds of juveniles singing with tolerable regularity is sure to bring to mind William Blake’s vision of the Palm Sunday choirs, still the truth of experience must be recorded.  Nothing can be less musical than our juvenile singing in general.  For steady rasp, commend us to our common school harmony; but here let our introductory fault-finding end.  The work of Mr. Hopkins shows how children should be educated to sing in common.  They can be made musical, so that they shall utter real blessings which are choruses and choruses which are Hallelujahs.  Though the performance yesterday of Handel’s huge chorus must be accepted with a great deal of allowance (notably tenors and basses were deficient, because Mr. Hopkins’s male classes are but a few months old), yet if such an allowance can be made, the singing was remarkable for so many children.  Something short of this monster chorus might have served; but Mr. Hopkins was ambitious to illustrate the progress of his pupils, and he succeeded in this less at the expense of Handel than we might have expected.  Miss Beebe, a clear but unemotional soprano, and Mr. J. A. Dawson, a young pianist of merit, assisted Mr. Hopkins.  Of the latter especially we shall be glad to hear more.  In the allegro movement of Mayer’s Concerto—a composition delicate and brilliant though nowise exhaustive—he proved some highly graceful talents of technique, talents which bid fair to ripen on the side of delicacy, and, we hope will deepen on the side of purpose and feeling.  The Union Hymn of Mr. Hopkins, which concluded the programme, is a scholarly production; but it is likewise heavy.  It was preceded by an introduction, prelude, and fughette for orchestra, which gave every sign of Mr. Hopkins’s training as an organist, and went far to suggest many good things; but this tripartite, preface, admirable in its aim, would be better if it possessed orchestral compactness and enlivenment, whether the style needed be ancient or modern.  The interest of Mr. Hopkins’s composition is not to be questioned, and it is possible that we shall hear it again, when the growth of the Orpheon cause gives him another good chance to be heard.  We must not omit to record the singing of the air of the Pilgrim’s Chorus in Tannhauser as one of yesterday afternoon’s surprises.  When it is possible thus to float the minds of our children in the powerful mood of Wagner, the success of the music of the future, and, in fact, the Orpheonium of the future, ought to be beyond cavil.”     

Review: New York Sun, 13 May 1867, 4.

“Jerome Hopkins’ Spring-tide Orpheonist Singing Festival came off according to announcement on last Thursday afternoon at the New York Academy of Music, and proved the truth of the remarks so often made lately regarding the remarkable progress of the Orpheon system, which that pianist has the credit of originating.  The singers on the occasion were too numerous for the accommodations offered even by the large stage of the Academy.  Scores, especially of men and choir-boys, could find no seats at all, but had to stand during the whole performance, crowding even the side-scenes.  The coup d’oeil from the body of the house was one of the most beautiful ever seen in the new Academy.  The performers were arranged like a terrace.  First and lowest on the bridged orchestra were the instrumentalists.  Behind them, a little higher, were the Orpheonists (young ladies, little girls, men and choir-boys), the female portion in white, while the background was formed by the hundreds of charity children, all habited in their best, the conventional broad milk-white capes producing a unique effect.

     The appearance of the stage, on raising the curtain just after the opening overture, was one of indescribable newness in that theatre, and at the first sounds from such a chorus, a shock of pleasurable surprise ran like an electric current through the entire audience.  The ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ an ‘Echo Song,’ and Hopkins’ patriotic ‘God Save the Fatherland’ (which Mr. R. Grant White has enshrined in his book on National Hymns), were the principal choruses, besides a collection from ‘Tannhauser,’ and all were performed with a perfection of ensemble never before heard by so large a number of singers, with orchestra, in this city.  It can no longer be doubted that Mr. Hopkins’ design of establishing a yearly gathering of this character of Orpheonists and charity children is one of the grandest musical ideas yet broached in our metropolis, and we see no good reason why Orpheon free choral schools should not one day be as common as our free daily schools now are.  At this second Spring-tide Festival, Miss Henrietta Beebe, the charming young soprano, and Mr. J. A. Dawson, the talented pianist, assisted, with other solo talent.  All were excellent, and covered themselves with laurels.  Mr. Jerome Hopkins conducted the orchestra and chorus with his accustomed ability.”

Review: New-York Times, 13 May 1867, 5.

“The occurrence of Mr. Jerome Hopkins’ second Orpheonist Festival was an example of energy and perseverance on the part of that gentleman, but not of much else.  The first glance afforded by the rising of the curtain on his two hundred juvenile cherubs in aprons and caps was a most enjoyable spectacle, but that pleasure was qualified, however, when the entire number piped forth in their childish treble, Handel’s mighty chorus and Wagner’s Pilgrims’ Chant from ‘Tannhauser.’  It is being quite mild to say that these exhibitions of the Orpheonists (however worthy in intention) are altogether premature.  Miss Beebe, an entirely unemotional, although moderately good, soprano, and Mr. J. A. Dawson (a pianist of promise) assisted Mr. Hopkins.”