‘History Dinner Theater’ features musician, educator Paula Purnell | TribLIVE.com

‘History Dinner Theater’ features musician, educator Paula Purnell

Mary Pickels
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
Paula Purnell (left), Greensburg musician and educator, will be featured in the Dec. 5 History Dinner Theater at Saint Vincent College’s Fred M. Rogers Center. Purnell, who chairs the Greensburg Group of 10, a local organization addressing environmental concerns, is shown with Pittsburgh singer-songwriter Mark Weakland at the group’s Green Gathering networking event earlier this year.

The next edition of “History Dinner Theater” will feature musician, educator and Pennsylvania roots music researcher Paula Purnell.

The 6 p.m. Dec. 5 program “Celebrate Pennsylvania in Story and Song” is set to take place in the Saint Vincent College’s Fred M. Rogers Center. The series is presented by the school’s Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery.

In her performances, Purnell combines her research on the indigenous people of the Eastern Woodlands and other cultures with her experience in performing on authentic instruments. Through it, Purnell is able to convey the culture and local history of Pennsylvania from centuries ago.

A Greensburg resident, Purnell is founder of the educational company Sense of Place Learning.

Her program begins with a discussion of why people make music in the first place.

“It doesn’t feed, clothe or shelter us, and yet, people across time and around the world have spent their precious resources making and sharing music,” Purnell says in an email.

Purnell will demonstrate the traditional love flute among other instruments and sing the “Seneca Canoe Song.”

“We will discuss William Penn’s ‘Holy Experiment’ and how he invited people to come and live in peace in the new land of Pennsylvania,” Purnell says.

Her program also will discuss early farmers who settled in Pennsylvania’s hills and hollows and, while living off the land, found time to make music.

“Finally, we see how the agricultural way of life gave way to the growing demand for coal and iron to stoke the burgeoning steel industry, and finish with ‘Pittsburgh Town,’ by Woody Guthrie, and a lovely ode to western Pennsylvania from the early 1900s called ‘Where the Allegheny Flows,’” Purnell says.

She is a former instructor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and performs regionally and internationally with the NewLanders.

Tickets are $65, $10 for children under 12 and $35 for students with valid ID, and sales close on Nov. 28.

Details: 724-805-2177 or mccarlgallery.org

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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