The Star Spangled Music Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded to support events and research in celebration of the bicentennial of our nation’s national anthem in 2014, received a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Francis Scott Key could not have imagined that his lyric would inspire a month-long NEH summer institute to mark his song’s 200th anniversary, bringing scholars and performers together with thirty K-12 teachers to create inspiring and insightful classroom materials to fuel a nationwide learning celebration. In June and July 2014 “Banner Moments: The National Anthem in American Life” did just that, while exploring the anthem and patriotic song generally in American history. The institute successfully brought scholarship together with instructional creativity to share knowledge and foster cultural interpretation and citizenship in schools throughout the United States.
The NEH and the American Music Institute at the University of Michigan announced that Star Spangled Music Foundation board members Mark Clague (a University of Michigan musicology professor) and Susan Key’s proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities for the “Banner Moments” Summer Teacher Institute received $200,000 in outright funds. The Institute was hosted at the University of Maryland to facilitate visits to sites critical to the creation and interpretation of the U.S. Anthem—Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, the Maryland Historical Society (which preserves Key’s handwritten manuscripts), the Smithsonian Museum of American History (to see the 1814 flag celebrated in the lyric), and the Library of Congress.
“Banner Moments” is a collaboration among our 30 teacher participants and a range of scholars, performers, ensembles, and institutions, including Choreographie antique, the Federal City Brass Band, baritone Thomas Hampson (Song of America and Hampsong Foundation scholar), historians and performers David and Ginger Hildebrand, musicologist Sheryl Kaskowitz (author of “God Bless America”: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song), musicologist Alejandro Madrid (University of Illinois at Chicago), anthropologist Maureen Mahon (New York University), Anne McLean (Library of Congress), Christian McWhirter (author of Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity of Music in the Civil War), actor David Prather, historian Anne Sarah Rubin (University of Maryland Baltimore County), Wendy Schanberger (Baltimore County Public Schools), music educator Dan Tolly (Ann Arbor Public Schools), and musicologist Patrick Warfield (University of Maryland).