The Monadnock Folklore Society has been deeply affected by COVID-19. All contra dances and concerts have been canceled since mid-March 2020. MFS events fit into the category of “Super Spreader activities,” in that each typically involves individuals being physically close and either breathing with exertion or singing out loud. These activities have been shown to be especially effective for transmitting the novel coronavirus.
Thus, all contra dances and Sacred Harp sings are canceled indefinitely and will not resume until permitted.
As of March 2021, MFS is hoping to hold a couple of outdoor concerts this summer.
What is life like for a touring band when touring isn’t possible? This weekend marks one year since our first online Quarantine Concert, and we want to honor that anniversary with a livestream show that looks back over the past year. We’ll share videos and tell stories about our adventures since last March, and we hope you’ll join us!
AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support the Monadnock Folklore Society every time you shop, at no cost to you. AmazonSmile is available at smile.amazon.com on your web browser and can be activated in the Amazon Shopping app for iOS and Android phones. When you shop at AmazonSmile, you’ll find the exact same prices as Amazon.com, with the added benefit that AmazonSmile will donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.
How do I select the Monadnock Folklore Society to support when shopping on AmazonSmile?
On your first visit to smile.amazon.com, you need to search for the Monadnock Folklore Society to receive donations from eligible purchases. Amazon will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make through AmazonSmile will result in a donation.
Arts Alive! is partnering with Antioch University New England to examine the Monadnock Region’s participation levels in the arts, the common barriers to participation, and how participation and arts engagement impacts loneliness and connection.
“We’re hoping this data will give the community another strong, research-supported reason to invest in the arts,” says Jessica Gelter, executive director of Arts Alive!
Well-being and community connection are keystones of many arts organizations’ missions in the Monadnock Region, and this study aims to collect tangible behavioral data and information that will support both arts engagement and arts-based community health interventions.
With the results Arts Alive! hopes to be able to give artists, arts organizations, and community groups information on what practices and engagement strategies work well to connect the community, and what the additional barriers might be for those who want to have the positive benefits of more arts and connectivity in their lives.
“The time feels ripe for this as we go into an uncertain winter – how will we emerge from the pandemic and reconnect with our communities?” Gelter says.
Arts Alive! will build an advocacy program, a professional development program, and a collaborative arts access program, with artist and arts organization partners as well as public health and community service partners, based on the results of this study. The survey is the first step in the process – the study will include other interactive elements, currently in the design process.
The goal of the organizing partners is to have 900 responses to the online survey by the end of February. Anyone who completes the survey can elect to be entered in a drawing for a $100 gas card or $100 grocery card. Find more information at monadnockartsalive.org/loneliness-survey
Now a cornerstone of the traditional music calendar in New England, the Northern Roots Traditional Music Festival returns on Jan. 30-31, 2021, in virtual form!
This popular event will continue to offer a unique showcase of a variety of northern musical traditions including Irish, Scottish, English, French Canadian and Shetland. Featured performers Dylan Foley (fiddle) (Pascal Gemme (fiddle), Nicholas Williams (flute, piano, accordion), Kevin Henderson (fiddle), and members of the Gawler Family Band (singers) will be offering workshops as well as performing in the annual concert.
The festival begins Saturday, Jan. 30, at 11 am with a series of five hour-long workshops (instrumental and vocal). We will wrap up the day with an evening virtual concert. For those of you who miss the traditional Northern Roots Festival fare – we will provide recipes for some of your favorites, so you can replicate the full festival food experience!
On Sunday, Jan. 31, we will host three sessions in the afternoon for “all who will” – and while we will miss the ambiance of McNeill’s Brewery, we won’t have to worry about not having enough space!
Seasonal Music and Story-Telling to Warm Your Heart
At this time when the darkness turns toward light, the podcast MuseMentors offer a very special seasonal episode featuring Tony Barrand who is sure to give you a new spin on the season.
Tony Barrand was born in England in 1945 but has lived most of his life in southern Vermont in the vibrant town of Brattleboro—a place that shines all the more brightly because of him. This Cornell PhD and Professor Emeritus of Boston University is not just an academic, but also a singer, dancer, and story-teller.
Tony Barrand offers stories of his mentors and mentees, as well as plenty of music and intriguing tales about seasonal carols. You’ll hear the best Christmas carols you’ve never heard of and will never forget. Guaranteed to brighten your days during this darkest time of year.
On Saturday, December 19, 2020, we published our Annual Solstice Party as a collection of YouTube videos. The Monadnock Folklore Society produces this community event every year, and this year we’ll forego the admission and the dessert potluck will be DIY.
In 2019, we had more interest in this event than the Nelson Town Hall could accommodate and many people were turned away at the door. Here is the 2019 Holiday Concert featuring a selection of traditional and original seasonal music performed by The Solstice Sisters (Alouette Iselin, Melanie Everard, Kim Wallach, & Heather Bower) and friends including a performance by our Johnny Trombly Scholarship recipient.
After the concert, the chairs and benches are usually cleared to make way for a traditional New England Contradance. Unfortunately, or not, the dance is often interrupted by various groups of unsavory characters presenting their idea of seasonal entertainment. These diversions, sometimes involving costumed individuals making complete fools of themselves or performing ancient ritual dances to help us through this dark time of the year, are generally tolerated as once they are applauded and fed we can return to dancing the night away. Last year we had to endure this 2019 Mummer’s Play.
Due to our current circumstances, we are not able to host this event in the traditional manner but we have managed to collect some video performances including Kim’s solo version of the Nelson Wassail and our 2020 Mummer’s Play.
You may also be interested in these videos from previous Solstice concerts:
In November of 2020, David Millstone and I sent out a call for stories about Ted Sannella to mark the 25th anniversary of his death on November 18. There was a terrific response, and we are proud to announce a new website, Sannella Stories, where these memories are shared. Nearly 70 people sent in their “Sannella Story.” These range from serious to silly and include brief acknowledgments and more extended entries.
In addition, we’ve assembled a collection of photographs, audio files, and videos. You’ll also find dances and tunes that were written for Ted, an index of all his dances, and links to other sites with information of interest.
Of course, it’s still possible to add to this collection; you’ll find that link on the site as well.
The two of us will be presenting a short “Ted Talk” as part of the virtual Ralph Page Dance Legacy Weekend, an event scheduled for Sunday afternoon, January 17. Details are still being arranged, but updated information will be available at the RPDLW site.
Our sincere thanks to the many people who contributed and in this way are helping to keep alive the memory of a major figure in the world of New England traditional dance.
It starts out unexpectedly; the catching of an eye;
A simple question posed by one, the other’s quick reply.
You’ll never guess how much can change, from just that first glance—
A seed is planted with the words, “May I have this dance.”
The seasons turn, the years go by, and so we dance along;
Sometimes the rhythm’s hard to find, sometimes the beat is strong.
The steps may change, the tempo slow, by choice or by chance;
We may not know what lies ahead, but still we will dance.
In early days, it’s hard to know just where a dance might go.
Though tempted to rush through the steps, we keep the rhythm slow.
The future calls, we both agree that we’ll take the chance
And promise to be partners for a lifetime of dance.
A partnership must be a dance in order to succeed.
Sometimes I slip, you hold me up, sometimes I take the lead.
If, through whatever time we have that good fortune grants,
We move together, not against, we can’t help but dance.
A dance may be a waltz or jig, or something like a walk.
As we grow old, it may just be the times we sit and talk.
The dance evolves; it doesn’t mean the end of romance—
We carry on, in our own way, continue to dance.
Life has a rhythm all its own, in all the tunes it plays,
The opportunities to dance a constant through our days.
To live a life that satisfies, fulfills, and enchants,
Just listen for the music and remember to dance.