The 25th Moravian Music Festival 

July 23-29, 2017 Moravian Fest logo LO-RES

Dr. John V. Sinclair, Festival Chorus and Orchestra Conductor
Chris Wormald, Festival Concert Band Conductor
Rev. Dr. Nola Reed Knouse, Music Director
Amanda Moody Schumpert, Festival Chair

STORY of the 2013 FESTIVAL

Please make plans to join our voices and instruments in music and worship !

Moravian Music Festivals are sponsored by the Moravian Music Foundation. The Festivals are planned and coordinated by the Foundation’s staff and board in cooperation with a Festival Planning Committee. Prior to 2010, Festivals were sponsored by the provinces of the Moravian Church in America, alternating locations between the North and the South. Festivals are held every four years, alternating between Winston-Salem, NC, and Bethlehem, PA.

Beginning in the 1930s and 1940s, scholars and musicians discovered a veritable treasure trove of music in the archives of the Moravian Church in America – manuscripts, early printed music, much of it in German. As they explored more, they were awestruck at the quantity of music, and the variety of composers – those known to be Moravian, and those known in wider musical circles.Thor Johnson

Working with American-born and trained conductor, Thor Johnson (son of a Moravian minister and native of Winston-Salem, NC), a group of clergy and laypersons in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, decided to hold an Early American Moravian Music Festival and Seminar, in Bethlehem, on June 26-July 2, 1950.

Since then, the Moravians have planned and hosted 23 more Festivals, and in 2017, will host the 25th Moravian Music Festival in Winston-Salem, NC.

The following statement of purpose for Moravian Music Festivals was adopted by the Provincial Elders Conferences in joint meeting, January 22, 1985.


  • that music is an important element in worship, enhancing one’s ability to respond to the Lord;

    1987 Edmonton, Alberta

    1987 Edmonton, Alberta

  • that music has been an integral part of the Unitas Fratrum for over 500 years; and
  • that our church, through the inspired work of its laity and clergy, has been blessed with a wealth of musical compositions which have enriched worship since the mid-15th century; and
  • that this unique musical heritage presents us with responsibilities and unlimited opportunities for its development and dissemination; and
  • that the Festivals are the only Moravian Church sponsored events that include all, regardless of age, sex or geographical difference; and
  • that the wide-spread use of Moravian music provides our denomination with one of its most effective means of outreach, the Interprovincial Music Festival Committee states that

    2003 Band Prelude (Goslen)

    2003 Band Prelude (Goslen)


  • to provide an opportunity for Moravians and non-Moravians to learn about and enjoy this musical heritage while obtaining the guidance needed to better interpret this music; and
  • to foster the development of music and worship leadership skills through seminars, workshops, and participation in choral and instrumental groups with the goal of enriching the life of local congregations; and
  • to be a dimension in the ministry of the Church to meet the spiritual and fellowship needs of its members; and
  • to be a forum for the discussion of current research on Moravian music; and
  • to be a vehicle for sharing the rich musical heritage of Moravian communities to the music world at large.

The historic city of Winston-Salem, NC

On August 25, 1752, Bishop Spangenberg, and four others, set out on horseback, from Bethlehem in Pennsylvania, for North Carolina, traveling through Philadelphia and down the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay. They ferried across and journeyed on to Edenton, to meet with John Carteret, the Earl of Granville, to secure a tract of 100,000 acres for a settlement. After an exhaustive search (from Edenton, west, into the wilderness, this search was over 400 miles, calculated by today’s roads), the party arrived at the three forks of Muddy Creek, and described the area as seeming to have been “reserved by the Lord for the Brethren.” It was named die Wachau, or Wachovia.

12 Single Brethren left Bethlehem on Oct. 8, 1753, and arrived on Nov. 17, celebrating a simple lovefeast to give thanks and ask the Lord’s blessing, singing We hold arrival Lovefeast here in Carolina land, possibly to the tune 159A Worship (a Herrnhut tune). This would become the first settlement of Bethabara, meant to be a supply and staging location for the eventual work on the central settlement. But, first, Bethania was established in 1759, and settlers were establishing farms in the South Fork land (later, Friedberg) and the Broadbay settlement (later, Friedland).

The site for Salem was selected by lot on Feb. 14, 1765, and surveys commenced. As usual, this was a settlement congregation and a planned community, the economic and spiritual center of Wachovia. Salem would be largely, a community of skilled craftspeople. The first trees were felled on Jan. 6, 1766. The congregation of Salem was established on November 13, 1771, at which time, the Moravians worshiped in a Gemeinhaus on the square.

The church building, known as Home Moravian Church, with its distinctive belfry, was completed in 1800, to which the Rondthaler Building (named for a prominent bishop) was added years later. The Sanctuary underwent a major renovation in 1913. A Christian Education and Fellowship Hall building was built prior to World War II.

Salem was to be the industrial and administrative center for the Moravians in North Carolina. Its excellence in music and preaching, attracted worshipers to the area; and, its economy attracted traders. At the same time, the Moravians actively pursued mission work with the surrounding settlers, and also with the Cherokees in northern Georgia and western NC. Salem established Sunday schools and places of worship in many areas of what eventually became Winston-Salem. Many of those grew into full-fledged churches, but are still part of Salem Congregation. As the Wachovia community of believers grew, Salem became known as the “home” church, and now is Home Moravian Church.

Visit WS Collage

Salem College’s history began when 16 girls and women walked more than 500 miles from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to join the new community of Salem. One of them was 17-year-old Elisabeth Oesterlein, who would be the first teacher of what is now Salem College.

Believing that women deserved an education comparable to that given men — a radical view for that era — the Moravians began a school for girls in 1772. In 1802, it became a boarding school for girls and young women; in 1866, it was renamed Salem Female Academy. The school began granting college degrees in the 1890s. Salem College is ranked as the oldest women’s college in the nation by founding date and the 13th oldest college overall. Salem Academy, a college preparatory/boarding school for girls in grades 9 through 12, also shares our 64-acre campus.

In its early years, the school was run by the Single Sisters. Oesterlein and her fellow Sisters were economically self-sufficient, a rare condition for women of the 18th century. The meticulous records of the Moravians show that the Academy and College educated girls of African-American heritage as early as 1785, and that in the 1820s, the daughter of a Cherokee Indian chief attended the school but had to leave Salem to join the Trail of Tears.

The Moravians’ belief in the freedom offered and responsibility imposed by an education inspires Salem College’s exemplary programs today. The traditions of the early Moravians continue to play an important role in the life of the College.