In the Perkins Annual Report of 1935, it was reported that the annual Christmas concerts, “have become a feature of Boston musical life. On Sunday afternoon, December 16, a throng of the friends of Perkins filled Jordan Hall to overflowing to hear the beautiful program of carols prepared and directed by Mr. Hartwell and rendered by the two choirs of over one hundred voices. On Thursday evening of the following week the same program was repeated at Dwight Hall and was attended by many of the parents.” The recorded concert preceded a Christmas Concert at Jordon Hall in Boston with the full 175 members of the Perkins Chorus.
“Winter Events.” One Hundred and Fourth Annual Report of the Trustees of the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts School for the Blind, 1935, p. 22. Available on the Internet Archive.
Farrell, Dr. Gabriel, “Christmas Concert with address by Farrell, 1935,” Historical Recordings Collection, AG206-2022-18, Perkins School for the Blind Archives.
Christmas Concert with address by Dr. Gabriel Farrell in 1935
Speaker 1: The director of Perkins Institute and Massachusetts School for the Blind has consented to speak to you for a few moments on the work of this famous institution– Dr. Gabriel Farrell.
Gabriel Farrell: [INAUDIBLE], friends in many places, the Boys and Girls of Perkins Institution take great pleasure in being able to share with you over the year this program of Christmas carols. Christmas is very real at our school in Watertown, where the blind youth of New England have every educational opportunity. It takes weeks to prepare a program such as this. But in the preparation, we find Christmas joy.
Our only regret is that our whole chorus of 175 is not participating. The program by all, however, is to be presented in Jordan Hall in Boston on next Sunday afternoon. Many may be interested to know that our pupils do not use books at these concerts. All of our music, however, is in Braille, that system of dots read by sensitive fingers.
To the blind, these dots have word meaning. And music also is notated in Braille. Before a concert, words and music must be memorized so that books will not be needed. Indeed, if each pupil was to bring with him the usual words and music for such a concert, he would have a pile of volumes standing beside him almost as high as his head.
Braille is very bulky. But for the blind, it is the open door to literature, music, and friendship. Music is stressed at our century-old school because it is the one avenue of aesthetic achievement open to those without sight.
It is a field in which many have gained distinction for themselves, as well as an opportunity to give pleasure to others. We would ask all who hear us tonight to see us as happy in the joy of sharing with you that in which we delight. And to all everywhere, we extend best wishes for a merry and joyful Christmas.
Speaker 1: Thank you, Dr. Farrell. The familiar strains of “Silent Night, Holy Night” by Gruber are a priceless treasure in Christmas music.
[Chorus singing “Silent Night”]
Speaker 2: “Sleeps Judea Fair” by MacKinnon is the next selection by the Perkins choir.