2007 Events Celebrate the Spirit of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty

The Seacoast Wind Ensemble Presents the First Annual Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Concert


Thanks to intensive historical research in period newspapers, local library collections and musical archives throughout the country, Seacoast Wind Ensemble conductor Richard C. Spicer assembled a collection of band music performed in Portsmouth in 1905 during the negotiations to end "World War Zero,” the Russo-Japanese War. The concerts by local town bands and military bands brought to Portsmouth for the occasion helped create the atmosphere for peace that resulted in the Treaty of Portsmouth.

Mr. Spicer began his research during the Treaty centennial in 2005, in order to make the music associated with the Treaty available again for performance. Various kinds of music were performed in 1905-07 including pieces related to the war, the Treaty, the commemoration of peace and celebrating the crucial role of Theodore Roosevelt, who became the first American President to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts.  Several programs featured this music at 100th Anniversary events, including Portsmouth Peace Treaty Concerts, re-enactments, and the State Dinner on September 5th, where Mr. Spicer accompanied noted singers in dramatic vocal selections. But it was not until he was chosen in 2006 to direct the Seacoast's own popular Seacoast Wind Ensemble that the opportunity arose to focus more on music from military band concerts and other entertainments during the summer of 1905 as well as local town band and Treaty anniversary concerts in 1907.

"We are bringing back to life the best selections from the band concerts heard during those years,” said Spicer. "People should not think for a minute that this is 'historical music" retrieved from a cabinet of curiosities and dusted off only for those with academic and esoteric interests. This is a stirring program that everyone can enjoy, featuring popular favorites of the day, from familiar marches by John Philip Sousa to medleys from the latest theatrical productions, played by the Portsmouth City Band in 1905. In addition, we are including songs and marches written by composers around the country to celebrate the historic event that happened here and the role of President Roosevelt as 'Peacemaker'; these were all scored for bands, and celebrate peace achieved, which has relevance in every age.  We are also excited to be using scores from the Exeter Town Band Library—a local treasure trove of historic band music from the oldest continuing town band in this state, going back to 1847."

About Director Richard C. Spicer

A resident of Portsmouth, Mr. Spicer is an accomplished music director, performer, and historian, with special interest in American musical culture.  As a band conductor, he has worked with the Boston University Concert Band, and in the New Hampshire capital, he formerly directed historic Nevers' Second Regiment Band, founded in 1879. Since 1999, Mr. Spicer has organized several local concerts featuring Seacoast music history and collaborating with groups including the Pontine Theater, Sandpipers Chorus, and Historic New England. In 1995-97, Mr. Spicer served as curator of a major New Hampshire Historical Society exhibit on the nineteenth-century development of state town bands and instruments.  He has published on this and other topics, including music in the Revolution, songs for public celebration in Federal Portsmouth, and Civil War bands.  Mr. Spicer also served as a classical music radio announcer on New Hampshire Public Radio.


Pontine Theatre Presents "The Peace of Portsmouth"


   Pontine Theatre"s co-creative directors Marguerite Mathews and Greg Gathers perform "The Peace of Portsmouth.”


Pontine Theatre’s original production, "The Peace of Portsmouth" premiered in 2005 to rave reviews. A special performance was given on August 26, 2007 as part of the annual celebration of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary. The performance was held in Pontine's West End Studio Theatre in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 

Based on the Portsmouth Peace Treaty of 1905 and using period newspaper articles, historical photographs, and turn of the century music and staging techniques, Co-Artistic Directors, Greg Gathers and Marguerite Mathews (New Hampshire Artist Laureate '02-'06), explore this international diplomatic event from the viewpoint of the local citizens.  THE PEACE OF PORTSMOUTH provides a glimpse of Portsmouth as it was in the summer of 1905.

"Pontine’s new work is a lovely, worthwhile trip back in time. The Peace of Portsmouth is the culmination of  eight months of intensive work to distill the essence of some 400 pages of contemporary accounts of the event culled from the archived pages of the Portsmouth Herald newspaper into a fine 75-minute theatrical presentation.” -- Tim Robinson, Foster’s Daily Democrat.

In August 1905 the envoys of Japan and Russia (accompanied by their large entourages) arrived in Portsmouth to negotiate an end to "World War Zero,” the horrifically-bloody war they were fighting in Manchuria. At the invitation of New Hampshire Governor John McLane, President Theodore Roosevelt chose the hospitable climate of the seacoast, with its secure Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, first class lodging at Wentworth By the Sea, state of the art telecommunications and welcoming community in which the negotiators could find a way to achieve their peace. While the envoys’ missions in Portsmouth were of a most serious nature, their interactions with the local community were often lighthearted and amusing. Because the eyes of the world were on Portsmouth and the events drew newspapermen from all over the world, Mathews and Gathers were able to draw from a first-hand chronicle of intimate encounters between local townspeople and the foreign celebrities which they re-create with dialogue, music, dance, photographs, a Victorian-style toy theater and unique, hand-crafted puppet-sized wooden cut-outs.

“History’s never looked so good. Pontine did their homework, pulling tidbits and tales from period publications, fastening it into a play-cum-history class, dressed up in delightful conventions that keep you focused.” -- Jeanne McCartin, Portsmouth Herald.

Pontine’s vignettes include:

•  A tea hosted by Mrs.Helen C.Knight, Portsmouth’s oldest resident, which featured the use of genuine Japanese tea which the hostess had received as a gift over 30 years previously. 

•  Russian Baron Rosen’s  embarrassed reaction to the “crowd of camerists,” who pursue him day and night to “catch him dishabille.”

•  The Japanese Fete held in York Harbor featuring a jiu jitsu demonstration and a host of local girls, “dressed in Russian peasant garb… dispensing lemonade.”


"Raise the Flag, Sarah!"

Annual Peace Flag-raising Ceremony at Green Acre Baha'i School


   "Peace: A Common Thread of All Religions" program and Sarah Farmer Peace Flag-Raising ceremony


The Peace Flag-raising Program commemorated Sarah Farmer’s Peace Flag - the first ever raised in 1898 and in 1905 celebrating the Portsmouth Peace Treaty.

The 2007 program commemorated the 102nd Anniversary of the Treaty of Portsmouth, with an East-West audience of Iranian and American guests gathered in the Peace Garden around the flag-pole. 

Green Acre director Jim Sacco (left) opened the program, saying, "This commemoration marks three milestones. First, Sarah Farmer's founding of Green Acre, recognizing that the thread of peace runs through all religions, her raising of the first peace flag in 1894 and the fact that we are still doing the work of world peace. Second, the collaboration and partnership we have with the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum and the mutual opportunity to continue to have to examine the processes of peace as Sarah Farmer envisioned. And third, the spirit of fellowship between the peoples of the East and the West that Abdul Baha foresaw at Green Acre when he visited in 1912.  




Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum moderator Charles Doleac (left) followed, saying "In 1905 local people provided the atmosphere for peace. Sarah Farmer was part of that, proving that local people are able to affect peace. It's not just what the leaders and the soldiers do; it's also what the people do and Sarah Farmer was way ahead of the curve. The Bahai here at Green Acre are making a tradition of the peace flag raising to emphasize the importance of what individual people can do. It is fitting, given what's happening currently in the Middle East that Iran and the US, East and West, would meet here at Green Acre."

Leona Hosack performed her original song, "Raise the Flag, Sarah!" and then Dr. Anne Gordon Perry reprised her 2005 role as Sarah Farmer to raise the Peace Flag above Green Acre.

 Dr. Anne Perry, right, as Sarah Farmer.

A one-hour concert of Iranian music and drumming followed in Reimer Hall in the Kelsey Center. Guests are also invited to visit the newly-expanded Sarah Farmer Exhibit in the Kelsey Center.



First Annual Labor/Portsmouth Peace Treaty Parade

On September 23, 2007, Portsmouth will remember two grand city traditions: a salute to Labor, particularly the workers of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard who form a critical part of the Seacoast economy, and the tradition of commemorating the Portsmouth Peace Treaty with a public celebration in September, the month the Treaty was signed. The Parade will assemble at the Parrot Avenue Municipal Parking Lot and begin at 2 pm. The Parade route winds through downtown Portsmouth (Pleasant St. to State Street, to Daniel, through Market Sq., Congress to Fleet, to State and back to Pleasant) before ending at Parrot Avenue. Community organizations, musical groups, clubs, teams, decorated cars and labor groups are invited to participate, at no charge.

 The 2007 Labor/Portsmouth Peace Treaty Parade commemorates the Treaty of Portsmouth -- the first Treaty negotiated between two foreign powers on neutral US ground, an accomplishment for which President Theodore Roosevelt earned the Nobel Peace Prize -- and honors the men and women who make the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard the “gold standard” of Shipyards and the Seacoast’s police, firemen, teachers, nurses and others who the same for their trades.

In 1902, Portsmouth celebrated its labor force with a 2,000-marcher parade. Over 15,000 spectators lined the streets to applaud the trades. Then in 1905, the Seacoast welcomed the Russian and Japanese delegates to the Treaty of Portsmouth peace conference with a parade led by the New Hampshire National Guard.

In 1906 a Treaty commemorative plaque was installed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and in 1907, Treaty celebrations in downtown Portsmouth lasted all day.

In 2005, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Portsmouth Peace Treaty, the New Hampshire Air National Guard hosted a “Welcoming Parade” that recreated their 1905 historic role as well as honoring those who serve. 2005 was also the year that the Seacoast turned out in a force of yellow t-shirts to “Save Our Shipyard” from BRAC closure. The 2007 Parade on September 23, 2007 will honor all of those traditions.

The Parade is organized by the Labor/Portsmouth Peace Treaty Parade Committee in conjunction with the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Metal Trades Union. For more information and registration forms to participate in the Labor/Portsmouth Peace Treaty Parade, contact Parade co-chairmen  Peter Somssich, 603-436-5221 or Paul O’Connor, 603-969-1799 or Stephanie Seacord, Portsmouth Peace Treaty Committee Information Director, 603-772-1835.

Parade supporters include the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Anniversary Committee, Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum, Japan-America Society of NH, Boynton, Waldron, Doleac, Woodman & Scott, PA, Leading Edge, Metal Trades Council, SEA/SEIU Local 1984, Norm Patenaude for City Council, Kathleen Somssich/Language Communications Services, Jean Gagne, Peter Somssich, South Church /UU, Portsmouth Democrats.

Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum Presents Ambassador Dennis Ross

The Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum welcomed Dennis Ross, author of Statecraft And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World to Portsmouth on December 18. In the afternoon, he visited RiverRun Bookstore on Congress Street for a booksigning  and then, in the evening, delivered the Portsmouth Peace Treaty Forum annual speech in honor of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1906 Nobel Peace Prize at a dinner at Wentworth By the Sea.

Mr. Ross came to Portsmouth three weeks before the Presidential Primary. Last July he told The Boston Globe that he wrote his book, “For those who are candidates to lead the next administration … who need to understand [the legacy of statecraft] and … to reintroduce the concept of statecraft to the public so that it would inform the questions the public and the media ask the candidates.”

Ambassador Ross was Middle East diplomat during the Clinton and George HW Bush administrations. As a result he was quoted frequently during the November 2007 Annapolis Conference on the challenges of the Middle East peace process. In an interview with The New York Times he said “If you’re going to do Middle East peace process, you can’t just lay out a broad vision.” Then, on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour he said, “One of the things this process needs to do is re-establish a sense of possibility, re-establish a sense of belief again…It can't just be an example of stagecraft, where you stage an event. It should be an example of statecraft where you have objectives, you identify means, and you involve yourself in a way that helps the two sides begin to overcome differences, simply because now there's an intensity to the effort.”


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