Grins, giggles and excited chatter greeted Sarah Kim, the Nelson Strings teacher on the first day of lessons. Ten eyes looked eagerly at six cases sitting on a table. Minutes later Nelson Elementary School’s first violin students were learning proper standing position, the name and function of parts of the violin and how to care for and hold their instruments. Five students are learning finger positions, pizzicato (also known as plucking the strings) and their first song. Having a strings program for elementary school children is not too unusual these days. But Nelson’s program has a couple of unique twists.
First, with a nod to Nelson’s heritage of traditional music for contra dances, students are learning some of these traditional tunes. They are working with the O’Connor Violin method, an approach to teaching young people that is based on American folk fiddle tunes. This was developed by Mark O’Connor, a child prodigy who had recorded his first album of fiddle music at the age of 10. Forty years later he is known throughout folk, bluegrass, jazz and classical realms for his brilliant playing and compositions that cross all of those genres.
Second, how many towns the size of Nelson have a world-class chamber orchestra? Enter Sarah Kim, who has been a violinist with the Apple Hill Chamber players since 2008, and on the summer faculty since 2003. Since moving to town she has enjoyed going to the local dances, and the opportunity to hear different music from what Apple Hill typically performs. She was familiar with the O’Connor method, and in fact, had toured with Mark O’Connor in 2001 as a member of the orchestra that accompanied him for a performance of his “American Four Seasons”.
The idea of a strings program has been germinating for several months. With financial support from the community, several quarter-size instruments were purchased. A grant from the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) allowed for the purchase of the Mark O’Connor curriculum, The New England Fiddler’s Repertoire (by Randy Miller & Jack Perron) and other music. The program is a joint venture of the Nelson School and Apple Hill.
As the students grow (in size as well as musical prowess) the program will need to acquire half- and three-quarter- size instruments. Nelson residents (or anyone else) who would like to support this program should contact Val Van Meier at 847-3371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, be listening for Nelson’s young violinists to be included in upcoming school programs and who knows – eventually some of them may be heard playing for dances in the Town Hall.
On November 30, 2010, Mary DesRosiers’ home burned to the ground. Luckily, no one was home at the time, but she has lost everything.
Donations should be sent to
Community Church of Harrisville/Chesham
Canal Street, Harrisville, NH 03450
Please indicate designation to Mary DesRosiers
The February Peterborough Dance will be a Benefit for Mary. Look for details here.
A Facebook page has been set up to document items she needs and to plan for several benefit events. Click here or search for “Mary DesRosiers” in Facebook.
Cape Breton fiddler and composer Jerry Holland has died after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 54. Holland died Thursday night.
Holland was originally from Boston. As a boy, he travelled to Cape Breton in the summer with his family. He moved to the island permanently in 1975. He performed publicly for the first time at age six — a year after he started to learn the fiddle. He performed on the John Allan Cameron Show from 1974-1977, and played stages around the world. Over the years, Holland earned a reputation as one of the finest composers and players of Cape Breton-style music.
Jerry was a great friend to the Monadnock Folklore Society, and performed in the Nelson Town Hall on several occassions, most recently in April of 2008. His presence reinforced the Nelson – Cape Breton connection that has been nourished by Harvey Tolman and Roger Treat, both regular fiddler’s at the Nelson Monday Night contra dance.
Farewell Jerry – thanks for the tunes, and for your great spirit – may it soar freely now.
visit Jerry’s Web Site
Join us for an open-mic evening of entertainment from the local folks. Past Coffeehouses have featured singers, songwriters, hoopists, storytellers, poets, and novelists.
Admission is free if you bring a dessert to share, or otherwise a suggested donation of $5. Coffee and tea are provided.
Want to perform?
Write to us, or call 603-762-0235
The Rhythm Rollers are a west coast band, but with a special attachment to New England contra dance music, and notably (pun intended) for the “piano playing of Bob McQuillen, the tunes he has written, his relentless encouragement, and his jokes.”
Their new recording, Grand Right and Left, features none other than the man himself on the ivories, Cathie Whitesides on fiddle, Laurie Andres, accordion, and WB Reid on banjo-guitar (that would be a guitar in a banjo body), regular guitar, and fiddle.
Joy Abounds! Of course it’s impossible to hear McQuillen playing the piano without cracking a smile that invokes awareness of some higher power. But two additional components stand out on this recording. Laurie’s accordion playing gets right to the point. Read more
On Thursday, April 24, Nelson fiddler Harvey Tolman will join a distinguished group of honorees in receiving the Governor’s Arts Award at the Colonial Theatre in Keene, New Hampshire. Other recipients will include Marilyn Ziffrin of Bradford; The Bloomfield Family of Bow; Drika Overton of Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine; Phoebe Ann Neiswenter of Pembroke; and Ken Burns for Florentine Films of Walpole. Governor John Lynch and First Lady Susan Lynch will preside.
Although Harvey was born in Massachusetts, the extended Tolman family has lived in Nelson for generations. His immediate family returned to the homestead when he was twelve, Read more
Bob McQuillen, grandmaster of New England contra dance piano, and certainly the most prolific living (or otherwise) composer of contra dance tunes, has arranged with Great Meadow Music to have them become the official publisher of his work. They will handle wholesale distribution of his 13 tune books, and six CD’s, as well as any subsequent books or recordings, or licensing of his music.
Conversing with Bob in his Peterborough, New Hampshire home, he expresses great pleasure in being relieved of managing the business details of his significant legacy, and he looks forward to concentrating on the creative side of future projects: a new recording project is underway, and the tunes have not stopped flowing. His most recent book brings his total published compositions to 1,300. Read more