Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant Received Locally

Hunt Smith and Samuel Foucher with fiddleThurston Huntting “Hunt” Smith and Samuel Foucher are proud recipients of a 2013-14 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.

From the website: “Apprenticeship grants fund a master traditional artist to teach an experienced apprentice in one-to-one sessions over a period of six to ten months and in this way recognize master traditional artists for their artistic excellence and commitment to preserving their heritage and support the efforts of promising apprentices who want to learn a tradition and share it with others.”

Hunt has over forty years experience in the fine and decorative arts, and has been making violins and violas at his home in Nelson for several years. Samuel is a recent recipient of the Johnny Trombley Scholarship from the Monadnock Folklore Society as a contra dance musician, studying under the great Bob McQuillen. For the past year, Samuel and Hunt have met regularly as part of Samuel’s home-schooling to learn fine woodworking skills. Now his plan under the apprenticeship is to make a violin of his own! Upon completion of the project, Samuel and Hunt will make a public presentation at the Harrisville Public Library.

NH Council on the Arts

☼ ☼ ☼ Christmas Night Dance | Nelson Town Hall

It’s the 16th annual Christmas Night dance at the Nelson Town Hall. Amy Cann and Bob McQuillen will provide tunes with the normal Nelson variety of callers. Festivities begin at 8:00 pm. We’ll stop dancing early because there will be a dessert potluck afterwards so bring treats. Admission is free — the Monadnock Folklore Society sponsors this dance as a gift to the community.

Once upon a time, in the town of Nelson, a wonderful tradition was born.

Ten years ago or so, the callers and dancers at a Monday Nite Contra Dance
realized that Christmas was going to fall on a Monday that year. Imagine
the dilemma! Nelson has always held a public contra dance on Monday nights.
If they were to skip Christmas, then the world record would end. Not
wishing to jeopardize the record, and wishing to see good friends and family
again, the tradition began!

It’s a Christmas night dance. It starts at the usual 8pm time. This year
Bob McQuillen will be on piano, Amy Cann will be on fiddle with plenty of
guest musicians and callers. It’s always a good night!

One year we had three feet of snow. But Bob McQuillen drove up for the
dance, Don Primrose showed up to call and there was a family visiting from
New York that wanted to dance on Christmas Day. We couldn’t get into the
hall because of the snow, so we moved the furniture from our living room and
Bob played his accordion. That night was my favorite of all the Christmas

This story about one of Nelson’s traditions was submitted by Val Van Meier.

Keene World Harmony Chorus Concert

Rousing South African choral music, traditional American folksongs, Bulgarian harmonies, the toe-tapping call and response songs of Quebec, and a haunting ritual song from Lithuania will all be part of a concert by the Keene World Harmony Chorus, on November 20, 2013, at 7:30 PM, at the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church Parish Hall, 69 Washington Street, in Keene.

The World Harmony Chorus is a multi-age choir who loves unaccompanied singing, and particularly the chance to sing traditional folksongs from around the world. The chorus was started three years ago, as a class led by Will Thomas Rowan and Lynn Mahoney Rowan of Marlboro, Vermont. The Rowans are accomplished singers and teachers, having toured with the world-famous youth chorus Village Harmony; and are currently among that group’s teachers. They have studied with Petrana Kucheva of Bulgaria, and Malkhaz Erkvanidae of the Republic of Georgia, and have been invited, with their quartet Windborne on a State Department goodwill tour of Angola, Turkemenistan, and Kyrgyzstan this winter.

Members of the chorus live in and around the Monadnock region and southern Vermont. Singers represent Keene, Francestown, Harrisville, Rindge, and many other towns. All are amateurs, drawn together by their love of singing. The concert is free, appropriate for all ages, and will be followed by light refreshments.

The Nelson Music Collection

Nelson Music Collection
Photo from the cover of the Nelson Music Collection

The Nelson Music Collection was first published in 1969, as a “Collection of Authentic Square Dance Melodies. Compiled by Newt Tolman, a flute player from Nelson, and his piano accompanist, Kay Gilbert from Peterborough, it contains 64 tunes that might be heard at one of the local square dances. It became an important resource over the next decade as the face of square dancing evolved (and became more commonly known as contra dancing), and as young musicians aspired to learn the tunes so that they could play for the dances. Eventually it took a back seat to newer collections which offered additional and newly popularized tunes, but serious scholars and musicians remained aware of its existence. Newt and Kay also issued an LP recording of the same name, which featured many of the tunes from the book. It was one of the first commercial recordings of this music. Read more