Where Folk Music and Mennonite Heritage Meet

From martyr ballads and shape-note singing to contemporary folk hymns, operas, musicals, and festivals like Mennofolk, folk music and Mennonites just seem to go together. A GAMEO article on “Folk Music” suggests that, historically, “In contrast to the art music of the established church, this music of the common people was accessible to all and thus symbolic of the Anabaptist emphasis on the priesthood of all believers.”

Brubacher House had carried this tradition forward with a new house concert series in partnership with Winnipeg-based non-profit called Home Routes / Chemin Chez Nous.

Brubacher House, a restored 1850s Pennsylvania German Mennonite farmhouse at the University of Waterloo, has grown into an arts, culture, and heritage hub on North Campus, engaging the University and the wider community in educational museum tours and creative cultural programming. This concert series, supported by the Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario, is a natural extension of its seasonal Artist-in-Residence program, started in 2017, which inspires learning and conversation about the past, and promotes dialogue and respect among people with diverse stories and cultures through artistic creation.

Upcoming concerts include Peterborough singer-songwriter Taylor Abrahamse (January), blues guitar virtuoso Watermelon Slim (March), social justice songwriter Crys Matthews (April), and Vancouver folk and blues duo Beau Wheeler and Jesse Waldman (May).

The vitality and resilience of Mennonite culture depends not just on preserving collections of objects, but also on enlivening our intangible heritage–sharing traditions across time and space, creating a sense of identity, continuity, and belonging. Home Routes will bring people and communities together in a celebration of living heritage at Brubacher House.