Chance of a ghost

Concert, lecture just might bring out the dead

So good it’s scary: L to R, The Bond Street Euterpean Singing Society: Anthony Bellov, Jane Elizabeth Rady, Rosalind Gnatt & Dayle Vander Sande. Photo by Margaret Fox

BY SCOTT STIFFLER  |  Phantom notes from an unmanned piano, disembodied voices joining the living for Christmas carols and a spectral concert attendant seen only by a handful of audience members: All of these unexplained events, and more, have taken place in the front Greek Revival parlor of the Merchant’s House Museum (NYC’s only family home preserved intact from the 19th century). Music seems to inspire paranormal activity at MHM — and this upcoming event seems tailor-made to draw out the spirits of servants, caretakers and Tredwell family members seen over the years by dozens of staff members, visitors and volunteers.

“Chant Macabre: Songs of Death & Enchantment” is the autumnal installment in an ongoing concert series from The Bond Street Euterpean Singing Society (MHM’s official artists-in-residence). The vocally gifted quartet with a flare for the dramatic (and a sly sense of humor) will present a program of harrowing tales, tuneful lamentations and melancholy expressions of sympathy for the dearly departed — all taken from the musical literature of the 19th century.

Selections by Saint-Saens, Schubert, Loewe, Liszt, Debussy, Mussorgsky and more will provide a window into a time when tragedy and grief were ubiquitous (and mourning was a domestic affair). Adding to the authentic atmosphere of dread: The parlor will be draped in black crepe, and dominated by a coffin — a precursor to MHM’s October 28 “Parlor to Grave” event, which recreates the 1865 funeral of patri- arch Seabury Tredwell.

Photo courtesy of Merchant’s House Museum
The lights are on…but are the dead at home?

If that’s not enough to bring out the dead, this one should do the trick: “Investigating Manhattan’s Most Haunted House” is a lec- ture by Dan Sturges. Co-host of the weekly web broadcast “The PSI Show,” Sturges has, since 2007, been given exclusive and unlimited access to MHM’s parlors, bedrooms, servant’s quarters, hallways, staircases, basement and garden.

Having joined him on 14 investigations, I’ve witnessed (what we think was) pol- tergeist activity, heard (what sounded like) recorded voices, had odd sensory experiences and seen a disembodied white dress pass by out of the corner of my eye.

That’s nothing compared to what Sturges has witnessed over the years — yet he refuses to say MHM is haunted, or declare his belief in ghosts. By the end of the lecture, however, even skeptics will be hard-pressed to say there’s nothing unusual going on in the house. After a brief primer on the history of parapsychology, Sturges will present audio, video and photographic evidence from various MHM investigations, discuss informa- tion revealed by psychics and conclude with a spirited Q&A session.

No matter what side of the fence you end up on, at least you’ll be able to speak the language — having learned the difference between EMF and EVP, thanks to a section that focuses on the proper use of electronic equipment. Armed with this knowledge, you can return to MHM, take the self-guided tour and maybe have an experience of your own. At the very least, you’ll never watch one of those dreadful ghost hunting TV shows in quite the same way.

CHANT MACABRE: SONGS OF DEATH & ENCHANTMENT
Sat., Oct. 13 at 7:30pm
Tickets are $20, $10 for MHM members

INVESTIGATING MANHATTAN’S MOST HAUNTED HOUSE
Wed., Oct. 17 at 7pm
Tickets are $20, $10 for MHM members

At The Merchant’s House Museum 29 E. Fourth St., btw. Lafayette & Bowery Seating is limited and reservations are strongly suggested To reserve, call 212-777-1089 or visit merchantshouse.org Proceeds from both events benefit the museum Visit sturgesparanormal.com

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