Jan 212010
 

Northern Harmony, the unique world music singing ensemble led by Larry Gordon and Patty Cuyler, will perform on January 28 at 7:30 pm. in Brattleboro, VT at the Old Stone Church, Main Street.

Hailed for their “sheer agility, vitality and power” by the Washington Post, Northern Harmony’s brilliant young singers are chosen from among the strongest recent graduates of Village Harmony teen ensembles.  They stretch the normal boundaries of choral music with their command of varied world ethnic singing styles: sacred and secular harmonies from Corsica and Georgia; village music from the Balkans; South African folk and church songs and dances; American shape-note singing and a cappella gospel; and contemporary compositions.

This ensemble is preparing for a two-month European tour beginning next month, and they are one of the small number of choirs selected to perform at the American Choral Director’s convention in Philadelphia the following week.

Northern Harmony’s vocal styles range from the hearty and ultra bright Bulgarian “hard voice,” to the equally powerful, but darker and more sonorous Georgian timbre, to the rich, syncopated South African style, to the wild and unrestrained American shape-note sound.

Georgia has one of the world’s most ancient polyphonic singing traditions.  The music is almost always in three vocal parts and features a dark, sonorous vocal quality.  The harmonies are unlike anything in European music, with un-tempered intervals and striking harmonic convergences.

Shape-note singing, one of Northern Harmony’s trademarks, had its origins in the community singing schools of 18th century New England.  It is simultaneously a sacred and a social singing tradition, featuring stark, open harmonies, rhythmic, contrapuntal “fuguing” sections, and the marvelous sacred poetry of the 18th century English hymn writer Isaac Watts and his followers.  The concert will also feature traditional and contemporary arrangements of 1930’s gospel quartet numbers.

Traditional Corsican singing has been described as “wrenched from the bowels of the earth.”   Passed down almost entirely through oral tradition, the three-part harmonies feature two highly ornamented upper voices over a more sustained harmonic bass.  The excitement for the listeners and singers both comes from the impassioned delivery, the surprising harmonic shifts which ripple from voice to voice, and the buzzing vocal timbre which creates an extremely powerful sound rich in overtones.

South Africa has a particularly powerful and appealing folk harmony singing tradition, with a rich, resonant vocal sound, and wonderfully syncopated rhythm.  The singing is always accompanied by dancing, with the rhythm of the dance movements often in counterpoint to the song.  Northern Harmony directors Cuyler and Gordon have led regular study tours to South Africa, working intensively with South African conductor Matlakala Bopape and her Polokwane Choir.  Cuyler and Bopape have jointly published two volumes of The Folk Rhythm including 36 songs from the South African singing traditions with accompanying audio and video materials.

Northern Harmony also performs a wide variety of village music from the Balkan countries.  This music features the characteristic bright, “hard-voiced” Balkan vocal timbre, with dissonant harmonies frequently based on drones, and irregular dance meters in 7, 9 and 11.  Many of these numbers also feature accompaniment on accordion, fiddle, tambura and drum.

Jan 212010
 

Northern Harmony, the unique world music singing ensemble led by Larry Gordon and Patty Cuyler, will perform at the Hancock Meeting House on Friday, January 29 at 7:30 pm.  The concert is hosted by Music at Norway Pond.  Admission, at the door, is $12, $8 for students and seniors.  For information call 603-899-3249 or 802-426-3210 or visit www.villageharmony.org.

Hailed for their “sheer agility, vitality and power” by the Washington Post, Northern Harmony’s brilliant young singers are chosen from among the strongest recent graduates of Village Harmony teen ensembles.  They stretch the normal boundaries of choral music with their command of varied world ethnic singing styles: sacred and secular harmonies from Corsica and Georgia; village music from the Balkans; South African folk and church songs and dances; American shape-note singing and a cappella gospel; and contemporary compositions.

This ensemble is preparing for a two-month European tour beginning next month, and they are one of the small number of choirs selected to perform at the American Choral Director’s convention in Philadelphia the following week.

Northern Harmony’s vocal styles range from the hearty and ultra bright Bulgarian “hard voice,” to the equally powerful, but darker and more sonorous Georgian timbre, to the rich, syncopated South African style, to the wild and unrestrained American shape-note sound.

Georgia has one of the world’s most ancient polyphonic singing traditions.  The music is almost always in three vocal parts and features a dark, sonorous vocal quality.  The harmonies are unlike anything in European music, with un-tempered intervals and striking harmonic convergences.

Shape-note singing, one of Northern Harmony’s trademarks, had its origins in the community singing schools of 18th century New England.  It is simultaneously a sacred and a social singing tradition, featuring stark, open harmonies, rhythmic, contrapuntal “fuguing” sections, and the marvelous sacred poetry of the 18th century English hymn writer Isaac Watts and his followers.  The concert will also feature traditional and contemporary arrangements of 1930’s gospel quartet numbers.

Traditional Corsican singing has been described as “wrenched from the bowels of the earth.”   Passed down almost entirely through oral tradition, the three-part harmonies feature two highly ornamented upper voices over a more sustained harmonic bass.  The excitement for the listeners and singers both comes from the impassioned delivery, the surprising harmonic shifts which ripple from voice to voice, and the buzzing vocal timbre which creates an extremely powerful sound rich in overtones.

South Africa has a particularly powerful and appealing folk harmony singing tradition, with a rich, resonant vocal sound, and wonderfully syncopated rhythm.  The singing is always accompanied by dancing, with the rhythm of the dance movements often in counterpoint to the song.  Northern Harmony directors Cuyler and Gordon have led regular study tours to South Africa, working intensively with South African conductor Matlakala Bopape and her Polokwane Choir.  Cuyler and Bopape have jointly published two volumes of The Folk Rhythm including 36 songs from the South African singing traditions with accompanying audio and video materials.

Northern Harmony also performs a wide variety of village music from the Balkan countries.  This music features the characteristic bright, “hard-voiced” Balkan vocal timbre, with dissonant harmonies frequently based on drones, and irregular dance meters in 7, 9 and 11.  Many of these numbers also feature accompaniment on accordion, fiddle, tambura and drum.

 Posted by on January 21, 2010 at 11:37 am
Jan 142010
 

First Baptist Church, 190 Main St., downtown Brattleboro VT

Tickets: $18 in advance / $21 at the door

Tickets available on line at BrattleboroTix.com
or in person at:  The Toadstool, Colony Mill, Keene NH
Everyone’s Bookstore, 23 Elliot St., Brattleboro VT
World Eye Bookshop, 156 Main St., Greenfield MA

Put on by Red Horse Productions (Mary Lea)
Call (802) 257-1571 for more information.

John McCutcheon is one of the most respected and beloved folk performers in the U.S. Master of a dozen different traditional instruments, inspiring storyteller and songwriter, he is a consummate artist whose songs and stories have great universality, wit and charm. His thirty recordings have garnered every imaginable honor including seven Grammy nominations, and he has produced twenty albums of other artists, from traditional fiddlers to contemporary singer-songwriters to educational and documentary works.

Although a Wisconsin native, he has lived many years in rural Appalachia and had a long apprenticeship to many of the legendary figures of this regional music. Whether playing the hammered dulcimer, banjo or fiddle, or singing an original or traditional song, his music has the mark of place, family and strength. His storytelling style, an important part of his performance, has been compared to Will Rogers and Garrison Keillor.

John’s music has made its way into the lives and homes of one of the broadest audiences any folk musician has ever enjoyed. His performances demonstrate his commitment to building community and fostering humanitarian ideals, his delight in family interactions, his strong support of grass roots movements and love of traditional music. People of every generation and background seem to feel at home in a concert hall when John McCutcheon takes the stage.

“John McCutcheon is one of the best loved performing musicians in the country. His words combine the objectivity of a hard-news journalist and the sensibility of the Romantic poets. The result is something more universal than either.”
–Marshfield News-Herald

“John McCutcheon is a booster for all that is good in the human race. You can always count on John McCutcheon’s music to provide quality time for families.” –Chicago Tribune

“This notion of telling stories of ordinary people who have done great things, and carrying those stories from one place to another,  of telling people, ‘ this is where I’ve been, these are the stories I can bring you,’ is the heart of what I do. That’s my goal. If you can recognize yourself in my songs, then I’ve done my job,” –John McCutcheon

 Posted by on January 14, 2010 at 11:59 am
Jan 132010
 

The Monadnock Folklore Society has been approved for an FY2010 New Hampshire State Council on the Arts Mini Grant to support performances at the upcoming Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend. With its motto of “The Spirit of the Past, with a Vision for the Future,” the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend was founded 23 years ago by the New England Folk Festival Association in collaboration with the Center for the Humanities at the University of New Hampshire. This weekend is named in honor of Ralph Page, who was pivotal in sustaining and reviving traditional contra and square dancing in New England.

Ralph started calling more than 70 years ago in Nelson, NH, the Monadnock area town that has had contra and square dancing continuously in its town hall for two centuries. Ralph was a popular caller in New Hampshire and in the Boston area. During various periods in which contra and square dancing were at low points in popularity, he was nearly the only person to keep the tradition alive.

Ralph Page became not only a caller but also a scholar of contra dancing. He published The Northern Junket newsletter monthly for many years. He wrote many excellent dances, and he researched and reconstructed many old dances. In 1977, Ralph Page received the Granite State Award given to outstanding citizens of New Hampshire. This award acknowledged not only his talents as a dance teacher, caller, and musician, but also his contributions to community life as a selectman for Nelson, NH from 1932-1938 and as president of the Cheshire County Historical Society for 15 years. When Ralph Page died in the early 1980’s, a committee was set up to keep his legacy alive; that eventually led to the Ralph Page Dance Weekend which has occurred annually since 1988.

From the beginning the emphasis of the Weekend has been on preserving the smoother style of dancing that Ralph favored. However, that doesn’t mean it’s a style of dancing only old people or old-fashioned dancers would enjoy. Contra and square dancing involve teamwork, and it never shows up better than at the Ralph Page weekend. Interested dancers are welcome to attend the entire weekend or any part, including the Friday or Saturday night dances. The Dance Legacy Weekend takes place from Friday, January 15 through Sunday, January 17th at the Memorial Union Building at the University of New Hampshire, Durham.

The 2010 Weekend Staff:

* Callers: Lisa Greenleaf & Tony Parkes
* Latter Day Lizards: Dave Langford, Bill Tomczak & Peter Barnes
* Old New England: Jane Orzechowski, Deanna Stiles & Bob McQuillen
* White Cockade: Vince O’Donnell, Ralph Jones, Sylvia Miskoe, Cal Howard, RP Hale & Allan Chertok
* Retrospective dance session: Marcie Van Cleave & Sylvia Miskoe will lead a celebration of the truly inspirational and varied life of Marianne Taylor.

More information about the Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend at http://www.nhcountrydance.com/music/rpdlw.html
More information about Ralph Page at
http://www.library.unh.edu/special/index.php/ralph-page
NH Council on the Arts Logo
The Weekend is honored to be supported in part by a grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Jan 112010
 

Music on Norway Pond

Concert is  about an hour long with no intermission. Tickets are available at the door and are $10.\

Contact Jody Simpson: 603-525-9303 for details

visit Lorraine and Bennett Hammond’s web site
“Quite simply acoustic music at it’s finest,” says Dirty Linen Review.

Lorraine, renowned master of the Appalachian dulcimer, also plays banjo, mandolin and Celtic harp and is an expressive singer and songwriter.  Bennett, a superb finger-style guitarist and recent convert to the five string banjo, names “the three Bs”, Bach, the blues and Buddy Holly, as major influences.

Together, the Hammonds are versatile musicians and engaging entertainers.  Their warm stage presence is punctuated with wry humor, and their command of their instruments and musical genres is without flaw.  The Boston Globe calls them “a dazzling, witty, eclectic, delightful duo.”

The duo’s repertoire ranges in style from classical through Celtic, blues and contemporary.  They sing both traditional and original songs and can be heard on over thirty recordings as featured artists, or enhancing the work of performers including Archie Fisher, Lui Collins and Bob Franke.  Christine Lavin and Heidi Mueller are among the artists who have covered Hammond originals.

The couple live in Brookline, Massachusetts and their most recent releases, all on the independent folk label Snowy Egret Music, are Jingalo Gypsy featuring the duo, Bennett’s Rockafolky Banjo Tapes and Lorraine’s Muddy River Suite.

“More than just good pickers, Lorraine and Bennett are singers with an ear for traditional and contemporary songs.  They work seamlessly together, blending instruments and voices.” . . . . .
Golden Link Folk Society

“…The Hammonds are folk musicians of the first order, devoted cultural activists, teachers, event organizers, and performers who love to introduce people to the joys of traditional music.”
The Boston Globe

 Posted by on January 11, 2010 at 6:11 pm
Jan 072010
 

Northern Roots: Traditional Music Festival
Saturday, January 30th, Brattleboro, VT

Daytime Programs: 12:00 – 5:30 pm (doors open at 11:30 am)
Evening Performance: 7:30 pm

The Brattleboro Music Center’s third annual Northern Roots Festival brings together local and regional musicians representing the best of various northern musical traditions including Irish, Scottish, English, Swedish and French Canadian. Daytime activities include Accordion, Fiddle, Song, Flute & Pipes Panels; Guitar, Flute, Irish Fiddle, Kids Fiddle, Scottish & Swedish Tunes (all instruments) Workshops; Mini-Concerts; Family Concert; Pub Sessions; Dance Band Prep; and Family Dance. Events conclude with an evening performance featuring the best of northern musical traditions.

Location: Concerts and main events at New England Youth Theatre, 100 Flat Street, Brattleboro; sessions at McNeils Brewery.

Tickets: Adults: $15 day / $18 eve / $25 both. Youth: $10 day/ $10 eve / $15 both. Advance purchase recommended, limited evening seating. During Festival purchase at New England Youth Theater.

For tickets and directions visit www.bmcvt.org or call 802-257-452

 Posted by on January 7, 2010 at 8:10 pm
Jan 062010
 

Looking Back

It is customary for the January column of any publication or blog to offer some retrospective on the year gone by. We will forego that exercise, but will point out that the structure of this web site allows you to scroll down to previous month’s articles, and when you get to the bottom of those displayed, there is a “previous entries” tab which will take you back to the beginning. Explore.

MFSNL1What we will do this month is go further back in time. The very first MFS “newsletter” was published in November/December of 1981. It included a calendar listing for those two months, and a couple of things are worth noting. One is that Nowell (spelled incorrectly in the calendar) Sing We Clear was produced in the Dublin Church, and this past December (this time with the correct spelling) this same event appeared on the MFS calendar (if memory serves, Nowell in 1981 was produced by Steve Avery, who was the proprietor of Deacon Brodie’s Tavern in Dublin). The other is that the same evening Stan Rogers was finishing a three-night stand at the Folkway in Peterborough, Gordon Bok was playing in Nelson. These two musicians had some things in common, including deep resonate voices, and many songs having to do with the sea. The two giants met for the first timeMFSNL2 at a house party in Nelson following their respective concerts, and we were fortunate to be there and witness a hearty embrace. Continue reading »