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The American Musical Instrument Society

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42nd Annual AMIS Meeting
to be held jointly with the
Historical Keyboard Society of North America
Colonial Williamsburg, VA
May 30-June 1, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg musicians. Photo courtesy The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
The Governor’s Musik, Colonial Williamsburg’s resident ensemble
photos courtesy The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

The 2013 AMIS meeting will be held jointly with the Historical Keyboard Society of North America in historic Colonial Williamsburg. Themed “Roots of American Musical Life,” the presentations cover wide-ranging topics.


After the American Revolution, the capitol of Virginia moved to Richmond, saving Williamsburg from the urban transformation of other capital cities. Restored to its eighteenth-century character, Colonial Williamsburg has 88 original buildings and extensively researched reconstructions of others, including the magnificent Governor’s Palace and the capitol building itself. The world’s first and largest living history museum, the town lives up to its motto, “That the Future may Learn from the Past.”

. A scene in Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area
A scene in Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area

Come early and stay late to experience the colonial city with its architecture, historic trades, and character actors interpreting the Founding Fathers and Mothers from Williamsburg’s past. Enjoy the cultural enrichments and diversions of the colonial capitol, including instrumental and vocal music and dance.

Discover also one of the nation’s principal museums of eighteenth-century Anglo-American life and art, serving as venue for some of the sessions and concerts. The backdrop for the meeting is a major new exhibit entitled “Changing Keys: Keyboard Instruments for America 1700−1830. (See photos at Twenty-eight spinets, harpsichords, organs, and square and grand pianos are featured, most exhibited for the first time. The exhibit traces the transition from harpsichord to piano and the early-nineteenth-century struggle for independence from the British monopoly on musical instruments towards the early burgeoning of the American keyboard industry.

Keyboard instruments at Colonial Williamsburg
The Changing Keys exhibit, one of two rooms

For much more about Colonial Williamsburg, its programs, history, museums, buildings and publications, go to


The collection in Williamsburg focuses on instruments of all types known in colonial America through the early Federal era. A particular strength in keyboard instruments resulted from a succession of music consultants, conservators and curators from that specialty, beginning in the 1930s with Lotta van Buren and Ralph Kirkpatrick. An early catalyst in America’s colonial revival phenomenon, Colonial Williamsburg also participated in the early music revival, evolving through decades of changing approaches to eighteenth-century music for current audiences.

The Chapel of the Sir Christopher Wren Building
The Chapel of the Sir Christopher Wren Building


Three evening concerts will celebrate the heritage of music in early America, which drew from the best English, Continental, and domestic composers. The first will be held in the elegant candle-lit ballroom of the Governor’s Palace with The Governor’s Musick, Colonial Williamsburg’s resident performing ensemble. The program will include selections by composers whose music was listed for sale in Virginia and throughout the colonies in the eighteenth century.

Night two features “A Monticello Miscellany or ‘All that was good of its kind.’” Join Joe Gascho and his ensemble of seven musicians performing music for domestic entertainment from the library of Thomas Jefferson and his family. This early-evening concert will be followed by the annual banquet.

The conference closes in style with “Music at Home: Fifty Years of Gathering at the Piano” with forte-pianist Andrew Willis and featuring his ensemble on piano, violin, flute and cello in music of European an early American composers.

Nameboard inscription on a 1800-1805 Charles Albrecht square piano
Nameboard inscription on a 1800-1805 Charles Albrecht square piano


Colonial Williamsburg operates several hotels in close proximity to the meetings. Blocks of rooms have been reserved at the hotels below. To book a room, call Colonial Williamsburg Group Reservations at 1-800-261-9530 and specify your group as follows: “AMIS/HKSNA Musical Instrument Conference.” Group rates are available until May 2. All rates are for single or double occupancy.


Williamsburg is easily accessible by plane, train, and car. Located in eastern Virginia, Williamsburg is about 150 miles (240 km) south of Washington, D.C., and midway between Richmond and Norfolk. The Williamsburg area can be reached via many major airlines, with more than 200 flights arriving daily, to three airports: Newport News–Williamsburg (PHF) is 25 minutes away; and Richmond (RIC) is about 45 minutes away, and Norfolk (ORF) is about 55 minutes away. Each airport has rental car and limousine services. Amtrak also serves Williamsburg with trains daily to and from the northeast corridor.

Transportation from Airports to Williamsburg

By Car (to the Williamsburg Lodge)

Approaching Williamsburg on Interstate 64, take exit 238 onto VA-143. In a half mile, turn right on VA-132 S. Then in 1.4 miles bear left onto Visitor Center Drive. If you are staying at the Woodlands, turn into the Visitor Center and follow the signs. Otherwise, continue a few tenths of a mile and bear right onto Colonial Parkway and pass through the tunnel under the historic area. Then take ramp on right to Newport Avenue, then left on South England Street. The Lodge is on your left.


John R. Watson, Local Arrangements Chair:; (757) 565-8594.

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