Press Release


“New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music” is a fascinating, inspiring, and toe-tapping history of American music.

CHICAGO – Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) is touringNew Harmonies,” a portable five-kiosk display designed especially for small museums and historical societies, in Illinois.

New Harmonies” will be on display from November 17, 2007 to January 5, 2008, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM, at Mendota Township High School, 2300 W. Main Street, and is co-sponsored by the Mendota Museum and Historical Society. The exhibition has toured Lewistown, Decatur, Newton, Galena, and Carbondale.

The November 16 opening ceremony will feature a performance at 7:00 PM by acclaimed folk musician and songwriter Chris Vallillo, who makes the people and places of “unmetropolitan” America come to life in song. Vallillo will be joined onstage by musician and historian Clark “Bucky” Halker, producer of the IHC’s CD series Folksongs of Illinois, available for purchase from the University of Illinois Press. For more information about the Mendota opening, contact Shirley Pierson at 815.539.3373.

New Harmonies” is a cultural history of America’s musical landscape. From prairie land to river ways, from immigrant sounds to labor hymns, and from European folk traditions to African American blues and gospel, Illinois has been, and continues to be, the people’s musical highway. As a unique traveling exhibition, “New Harmonies” is full of surprises about familiar songs, histories of instruments, the roles of religion and technology in shaping new sounds, and the continuity of musical roots from the colonial period to modern day country, rock, folk, bluegrass, and blues.

New Harmonies” is part of the IHC’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program. MoMS serves small-to medium-sized communities with populations of less than 30,000 by bringing Smithsonian-quality exhibitions to local museums, historical societies, libraries, and community centers that traditionally have limited access to traveling exhibitions due to space and cost limitations. Each exhibition consists of five free-standing structures that contain interactive components and artifacts. In addition to the resources provided by MoMS, each host community will add elements to their installation of the exhibition and produce a series of local programs related to the exhibition’s themes.

For more information about the MoMS program, contact Ryan Lewis at 312.422.5585 x 231 or Information about the program may also be obtained by visiting or

The Illinois Humanities Council is an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Through its programs and grants, the IHC promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) organization that is funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations; by the Illinois General Assembly; and by the NEH.


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