The traveling photographic exhibit The Power of Music has found a temporary home at Phoenix’s Musical Instrument Museum and will be displaying it’s collection of late 19th and early 20th century musically themed photos through Nov. 27.
Located in the MIM’s special exhibitions Target Gallery, The Power of Music is a showcase of 60 images reproduced from cabinet cards, cartes de visites and photographs, some dating back as early as 1860’s during the Civil War.
The MIM has enhanced the exhibit by hand selecting instruments from its vast supply to pair with various photographs, adding depth to the experience.
“The beauty of what we were able to do to augment the show is to pull instruments from our collection that are from the very same time period and many are exact examples of what you see in the images,” said April Salomon, Head of Exhibits and Multimedia at the MIM. “There’s a nice variety of instruments — everything from mandolins, clarinets, over-the-shoulder horns, a reed organ and even a Martin guitar from the late 19th century.”
Also featured in the gallery are screens displaying footage of musicians, quartets and bands such as the Bascom Lamar Lunceford Band, who can be viewed strumming and fiddling their way through their song “Dogget’s Gap” in a grainy black and white recording.
“All the video and audio content consists of clips that were chosen from the time period so you get to hear the music as well as what the instruments and singing sounded like,” Salomon said.
The epoch in which these photos were taken was a turbulent time in America. People were struggling through economic hardships and two wars. The photographs and videos seem to capture the emotional facets of these American musicians.
“It’s an expression of human emotion and certainly during this time period there was a lot going on in this country,” Salomon said. “People still found a way to come together and have a sense of community and play music for various reasons. I think it’s a really cool way to sort of look back in many ways to where we have come from.”
In an interesting juxtaposition, The Power of Music is located directly next to the MIM’s artist/celebrity gallery. Just feet from an old Reed Organ and a few mandolins being displayed in the exhibit, one can see the piano John Lennon used to compose “Imagine” or Fender guitars played by Eric Clapton. In one swift glance, you can see the musical progress that has been made in over a century.
To coincide with The Power of Music, the MIM has held events and lectures relating to the exhibit. On Nov. 20 there will be a banjo workshop for beginning and intermediate musicians taught by Rich Chapman.
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