Built in Getzendaner Park in 1902, the earliest events in
the historic octagonal Chautauqua Auditorium included the
singing of sacred music.
Once again, those sounds are being heard on five weekends in
2011 with the first season of Waxahachie’s “ Old Fashioned
by Will Rogers (1927) and lectures by William Jennings
Bryan (1909) were among the events hosted in the 2,500-seat
Chautauqua Auditorium. In 1906 there was an exhibition of
‘moving pictures.’ Laced among the cultural events in this
great performance hall were times of preaching, bible
teaching… and sacred music.
From its construction in 1902 until 1930, hundreds of tents
were pitched around the park for the annual “Chautauqua
Summer Encampment and Assembly” - a tradition which has been
re-instated as an annual one-day celebration.
For more information from the Chautauqua Preservation
The hour-and-forty-five minute staged show features the southern
congregational songs* from the first half of the twentieth
performed by a 12-member vocal ensemble with live
instruments, very much in keeping with what might have been heard here in this building’s first
years. At times, you will be invited to join the singing of
You’ll hear quality arrangements of several well-known
hymns and gospel songs as well as some less-familiar tunes
which enjoyed great popularity at another time in our rich
history of congregational singing – especially in the
southern United States.
This is not exactly a concert… it’s not a sing-along…
it’s not just a show with a plot or story-line.
Waxahachie’s Old Fashioned Singing is unique in its format
and its setting. Our goal is to be musical, historical,
spiritual – and great fun!
The onstage cast is made up of auditioned singers and
musicians from Ellis County and contiguous counties in North
seated on a slatted bench in a wood-covered room; the
side-panels have been raised, and a cool breeze blows in
from the west. A ceiling fan hums overhead, and you may find
yourself using a ‘funeral fan’ for the first time in a long
The lights are dimmed,
a church bell rings, and the cast takes over the stage. Suddenly you are surrounded by
the sound of some of the best-prepared, best-presented
arrangements of the great hymns and gospel songs of the last
century. The singing and the stories carry you back to
the first half of the 20th Century. The music is fun to listen to – but you realize it
has a meaningful message. It speaks to you… down deep.
You laugh. You cry. You pat your foot. You sing along now
and then. But mostly, you watch and listen!
You remember the way you used to attend similar events in
the past. Or maybe this is the first time you’ve ever been
to a singin’ like this.
It’s then that you realize this is so much more than a
show… or a concert. On this afternoon in this place, your
faith is renewed, and you leave this place a happier person
than when you arrived.
That’s how it is here at Waxahachie’s Old Fashioned Singing. We hope you’ll join us.
WATCH A PROMOTIONAL VIDEO
So You'll Know What to Expect:
A majority of the program is presented by the
on-stage cast of auditioned singers, presenting
well-prepared arrangements of the songs. At times you will
be invited to sing along, but for the most part, the cast
carries the show. While it is truly a "show," you will find it
worshipful and meaningful... no matter what your musical
tastes. There's something about these songs that
draws us in and refreshes our spirits.
Bring a cushion or quilt -- the wooden pews are hard,
but they do have backs!
Note: The Auditorium is wheel-chair accessible, and
handicapped parking is available near that entrance.
For information on restaurants and motels,
see page 2 of the