MIDDLETOWN – Belle Grove is in the midst of unlocking a musical mystery.
The plantation owns a music book that was compiled by Isaac Fontaine Hite, the son of the plantation’s original owner Isaac Hite Jr., during his time studying at the University of Virginia in 1827 and 1828. The plantation will host concerts Sunday based on Hite’s music book and performed by Lois Sabo-Skelton.
Belle Grove Executive Director Kristen Laise said that, while the plantation has been in possession of the music book for a while, it was the plantation’s relationship with Sabo-Skelton that made exploration of the music book possible.
“[Sabo-Skelton] fell in love with Belle Grove as much as we have, and we kept pushing her to collaborate,” Laise said. “We came across the manuscript and we decided to look into it.”
Sabo-Skelton said the 60-page music book was discovered when papers that belonged to the Hite family were donated to the plantation.
“I was here and Kristen [Laise] said, ‘Do you want to take a look at this,’” she said. ‘I opened the darn thing, and it was all violinistic.”
Sabo-Skelton said that the music in the book, which at the time could be played by any instrument, was written specifically for the violin. The music book features several types of songs, ranging from waltzes to marches.
“We don’t know if [Hite] played the violin,” she said. “We’re on the journey to find that out right now.”
Sabo-Skelton said she and Belle Grove are continuing to look into the history of the music book and Hite’s musical history, including what he may have played during his lifetime.
Sabo-Skelton’s concerts will be held from 2-4 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Sunday inside the Belle Grove manor house. Sabo-Skelton said that Sunday will be the first time that the music inside the book has been played publicly.
Tickets for the event are still available for $40. For more information, visit https://bellegrove.org.