South Street Seaport Museum's monthly sea-music events Sea Chanteys and Maritime Music––the original NYC chantey sing, now made popular on TikTok––continues in-person and virtually on Sunday, December 4, 2022, at 2pm ET, in the Seaport Museum galleries at 12 Fulton Street, NYC, and on Zoom. Join a round-robin of shared songs featuring members of The New York Packet and friends. Singers of all levels, as well as listeners, are welcome to lead or request a song, join in the choruses, 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 1885 tall ship Wavertree and the 1908 lightsh 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 last year." – Daily News
"Shows the power of TikTok – and now New Yorkers can get in on it! 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 event moved online in April 2020 and took place virtually during the pandemic. This Fall and Winter, South Street Seaport Museum's Chantey Sing will use a hybrid format, offering options to join both in-person and online, having evolved into the preeminent virtual chantey sing in the world. The program features 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 pretty much 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. The December event will be hosted by Bonnie Milner with The New York Packet, a collection of traditional chantey singers in the New York area.
"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."
Each singalong includes a look at some objects from the Museum collection related to the songs being sung. Many singalongs also include a visit to one of the Museum's ships and a chat with a member of the crew.
The New York Packet was established over 30 years ago as the official maritime singing group of South Street Seaport Museum. First singing on the iconic vessel Peking, they have endeavored ever since to keep chantey singing alive in lower Manhattan. Even when the Seaport encountered "heavy weather" during and after hurricane Sandy, the Packet found places to fill with sound while awaiting a return to their beloved ships at the Seaport Museum. In May of 2019, the moment came when the Packet could return and sing aboard Wavertree. It was a magical and welcome moment.
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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