Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Brownsville Market Street Arts Festival Features Musical Debut, Regional Groups

Market Street Arts Festival Featuring

Musical Debut, Regional Groups

BROWNSVILLE, Pa. (May 9, 2011) – Steeped in history framed by 19th century churches, Brownsville Borough will be the setting for the premiere of "A Note in Time," a glimpse into the powerful impact of music from the 1700s to the modern era.

The premiere, free and open to the public, gets under way at 2 p.m. May 22 in Christ Church, 305 Church St., on the final day of the Market Street Arts Festival in Brownsville. The weekend of activities is emerging as a regional destination for this year's milestone celebration of the 200th anniversary of the National Road, with Brownsville as the only riverfront community along Pennsylvania's 90-mile stretch of the historic highway.

"A Note in Time" features a 10-member cast of local and professional musicians who will lead the audience on a journey through time narrated by one of Brownsville's most influential settlers, Jacob Bowman, as portrayed by Mark Kovscek, senior vice president of New York-based Converseon Inc. and a 16-year Brownsville resident.

Bowman was a member of the 1813 Vestry, an assembly of influential settlers who formed Christ Church, which was rebuilt in 1857 on the site of the original structure constructed in 1821 and subsequently gutted by fire. As one of Brownsville's most notable settlers, Bowman is credited with jump-starting the town's development by establishing a trading post in 1789 – now the popular tourist attraction, the 22-room Nemacolin Castle, which boasts a Bishop's bedroom reserved solely for venerable leaders of the church.

"Their whole community was the connection between churches and the arts, creating a really strong sense of purpose and identity coupled with the struggles of a pioneer town," Kovscek says. "When we look at those structures, in our eyes, it's just a church, but it's an expression of faith and sacrifice. You see that in the different elements of the various churches."

The one-hour premiere will feature organ and harpsichord selections from the 18th century, arranged by Christ Church's minister of music, Jerry Gearhart of Belle Vernon, and Kovscek's father-in-law. The cast includes students from the Market Street Academy & Performing Arts Center in downtown Brownsville. Making a special appearance will be P.T. Barnum's "Swedish Nightingale," Jenny Lind, portrayed by accomplished historical actress and singer, Emily Lapisardi, as a prelude to a 4 p.m. show with her troupe to mark the 160th anniversary of the 19th century singer's Brownsville performance. Period attire

'Note in Time' will be provided by Rue de la Paix Reproductions.

Market Street Arts Festival activities will be held May 20-22 on the historic North Side, downtown, wharf and South Side. www.marketstreetartsfest.com and www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Market-Street-Arts-Festival-Brownsville-PA/216386531709752. As part of the North Side activities, a walking tour of the churches will be featured. Some historic churches, including Christ Church, will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. May 21 for inside tours. Kovscek's 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, has created a children's activity book to support the walking tour and detailing the churches' histories. The activity book will be given away as long as the supply lasts at Nemacolin Castle and the festival's information booth in the downtown.

In the spotlight will be Christ Church, 305 Church St., (Anglican, 1821); St. Ellien's Antiochian Orthodox Church, 500 Spring St., (1918); St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, 300 Shaffner Ave. (1845); Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, Baltimore Street, (1928); First United Methodist Church, 215 Church St., (1861); Calvin United Presbyterian Church, 307 Spring St., (1876); and St. Nicholas Byzantine Church, 302 3rd Ave., (1911).

The Market Street Arts Festival's weekend of family-oriented fun will include:

■ Demonstrations by artisans with wares for sale

■ Archaeological dig at the site of 1860s riverboat captain's house

■ 18th century Living History encampment at Nemacolin Castle (May 20 and 21, ghost tours from

6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and May 20-22, regular tours from noon to 5 p.m.)

■ 19th century encampment at Thompson House & Restaurant on the South Side

■ Artists of the Pike exhibit, Frank L. Melega Art Museum, 69 Market St.

■ Free concerts in the downtown and at the wharf, strolling musicians

■ Vintage photography exhibit, Rose Mansion, 320 Market St.

■ Special exhibits in local galleries, Transportation Museum and Heritage Center

■ Writers of the Pike book signings on both sides of the Monongahela River

■ Children's eco-activity area

■ Chuck wagon-style food court

■ Activities at Paci's historic stagecoach stop, 384 Old National Pike, West Brownsville, including the grand opening of the Paranormal Museum and a special airing of Biography Channel's "My Ghost Story" documentary spotlighting the historic site.


Mark Kovscek, 724-208-1962

Emily Lapisardi, 412-404-7035


Fred Lapisardi, 724-880-3801

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