Traditional Musicians from Quebec & the United States Interact During an Intensive Residency

Recently the Susquehanna Folk Music Society received funding
from the Mid Atlantic Arts Council which will allow them to conduct an international
project that brings together musicians from the Mid-Atlantic area with musicians
from the province of Quebec for an intensive residency during which they will compare
and contrast the traditional music of their respective regions.

For Part One of this project  Matt Brown, a fiddler from Westchester, PA
will travel to Grosses-Roches, Quebec where he will be immersed in the Québécois
fiddling tradition as well as have opportunities to share old-time Appalachian
fiddling techniques and repertoire with his Canadian counterpart; David
Boulanger.

A free public presentation, during which the two fiddlers
will demonstrate and talk about their collaborative work, will be held on
Sunday afternoon, August 14 in Grosses-Roches. As a complimentary activity the
group will travel to St-Anne Des Monts, Quebec on Saturday, August 13 where La
Bottine Souriante, the band for whom David Boulanger is a fiddler will play.

Matt is a fiddler who grew up experiencing the best of
old-time music at fiddler’s conventions, square dances, and traditional music
camps. His mentors include Ginny Hawker, Bruce Molsky, Paul Brown, Tracey
Swartz and Bruce Greene. Through the years Matt has grown into an exceptional
fiddler with an expansive repertoire of fiddle tunes from the Appalachian
South. He has played at the Kennedy Center, the Ozark Folk Center, and the
Philadelphia Folk Festival and has taught at The Swannanoa Gathering, Southern
Week at Ashokan, and the Berklee College of Music, among others.

David Boulanger- a fiddler who has been active on the Québécois
traditional music scene for nearly ten years. David is currently a member of
the preeminent group La Bouttine Souriante;
Quebec’s most famous and most firmly established traditional group. David is
also an active composer and devotee to the “crooked tunes” which are
distinctively Québécois.

The retreat will take place in the tiny village of
Grosses-Roches which is located on the peninsula of Gaspésie in Quebec. The
area around Grosses-Roches is known for its beauty–people go there to admire
the hills and cliffs, to go sea kayaking and to hike along a spur of the
Appalachian Trail. Formally established in 1939, the name of the town reflects
its natural topography with the presence of large numbers of small rounded
rocks and brownish color.

Grosses-Roches has just 420 inhabitants. In past years most
of the villagers had earned their living though fishing, but since the decline
of that industry the town has fallen on tough economic times with a quarter of the
population considered low income. Gilles Garand has had discussions with the
town’s mayor, Victoire Marin about stimulating the economy and restoring a
sense of pride in Quebec traditions through traditional art programming such as
the one proposed in this grant. Through the assistance of the mayor and
adequate publicity we hope to make the public program held on August 14th
into an exciting community event.

Oversight for the project will be by Jessica D. Hayden,
Executive Director of the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and ethnomusicologist Jean
Duval. Following are two statements, one from Jess Hayden and one from Jean
Duval about what we might expect from the project.

Jess: Comparing these two forms of fiddle music will give us
an interesting perspective on the fluidity of music styles as they change and
grow while blending with other styles. Both Appalachian and Québécois
music are strongly rooted in British Isles traditions, but Québécois
music has been predominately influenced by Acadian and Breton music, while
Old-Time Appalachian music by Afro-American and Cherokee traditions. Our task
will be to find common ground, but also to “tease out” and analyze differences
in an attempt to understand where the music has traveled. Both musicians and
the communities in which they are involved will be enriched as they play
together and teach each other repertoire from these two distinctive traditions.

Jean: When you look at Appalachian and Quebecoise traditions
you see many similarities; both traditions originated in the British Isles, are
used primarily for dancing and use similar instrumentation. But the differences
are also there too. Quebecois(e) music tends to be more bouncy, Appalachian
music is more legato with longer bow strokes. In Quebecoise music you have the
addition of the piano and accordions, which are rarely found in Appalachian
music, while Appalachian has the banjo. There are some common dance tunes, but
there are certainly some tunes found only in Quebec. And the rhythmic feel is
very different. The foot tapping really helps to drive Quebecois fiddle music,
while in Appalachian music you have more of the African American influence.

The group is hopeful that a future residency will be conducted
in the Harrisburg area.

The Folk Arts Outreach (FAO) Program is designed to
strengthen the folk and traditional arts infrastructure in the mid Atlantic by
promoting and exchange of artistic excellence and best practices, normally
arranged as an assemblage of two solo or group artists from participating
states meeting under the oversight of a visiting folklorist.  The encounters function as three-day
“retreats,” where the artists can collaboratively work, share, and gain from
the exchange of talent and techniques; they will present their art separately
and collaboratively, with appropriate commentary by the folklorist.  The three-day event also serves to celebrate
the host artist in his/her own community; it is designed to result in personal
growth for both artists and in artistic outreach within the host community.

Temujin the Storyteller to Appear in York, PA

A big man in traditional
African dress, with an engaging personality and booming talking drum, Temujin the
Storyteller has been telling traditional stories from Africa and the Americas
for over 40 years. He was as born in Pittsburgh but traces his roots back to the
Yoruba culture in Nigeria, West Africa. With an active repertoire of over 200
fables, tales, and parables, Temujin’s stories range from traditional Yoruba to
Native American tales. He will be giving two programs at Martin Library in York
on Saturday, September 17th at 11 am and 1 pm.

During performances Temujin
dresses in the manner of a West African prince from the Renaissance period. He
wears elaborately woven embroidered African clothing and sometimes as much as
30 pounds of jewelry made out of glass, brass, bronze and hippopotamus ivory.
“During this time period it was typical for men to wear this much jewelry” he
says. “If the jewelry is very heavy it is a reminder of the burden of wealth
that you have. You have the burden to be generous towards those that do not
have what you have.” His clothing is very colorful and is made of narrow woven
strips that are sewn together called ashoke.
The woven fabric is usually made from silk and often is adorned with gold and
silver threads. The work of weaving the narrow ashoke strips is traditionally done by the men of the village.

He’ll gather the crowd
together, as it is done in the villages in Africa, by beating on his talking
drum. The drum that he uses makes a big sound and is modeled after ones that
can be found in the Congo. It is made of wood with a calf’s skin head that is
held on and tightened by a rope. In many places in Africa it is believed that
the talking drum can speak the language of the West Africa culture and has been
used throughout the ages to convey information.

Temujin tells stories from a
variety of sources – the only criteria is that it a story that he likes. He
never tells a story the same way twice and often changes the story depending on
how the audience is reacting. Some of his favorite West African stories are about
Anansi the Spider and Rabbit; two tricky characters that rely on their wits but
often get themselves into trouble. He also likes to tell tales about wise
tortoise who goes through life calmly, refusing to be rushed. During his
presentation he’ll talk about how stories such as these have found their way
into American culture and have become such classics as “The Tortoise and the
Hare” and the Br’er Rabbit stories.

Temujin the Storyteller performs about 150
times a year at festivals, schools, libraries and at Renaissance Fairs.  His all-time biggest crowd was over 1,500
when he followed Fred Rogers (of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) at the Three Rivers
Arts Festival in Pittsburgh. Fred Rogers had worked with Temujin many times in
the past and when he found out that Temujin was backstage, he sent Mr. McFeely back
and get him. While standing together on the stage Rogers told the audience,
“Temujin is my friend and I want you all to stay so that you can hear his
wonderful stories.”

This event is sponsored by the Susquehanna
Folk Music Society in collaboration with the Martin Library and the York County
Visitors and Convention Bureau. Funding is provided by the Pennsylvania
Humanities Council. Although the event is free, preregistration is required by
calling 717-846-5300 ex 222. Further information
can be found at www.susquehannafolk.org.

July 24/ Susan Leviton to teach free Jewish Papercutting Workshop

The history and meaning behind Jewish papercutting will be
described and explained in a free hands-on workshop with Harrisburg artist
Susan Leviton on Sunday, July 24, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Agricultural and
Industrial Museum, 217 Princess Street, York. The workshop, intended for youth
ten years and older with an accompanying parent, is sponsored by Susquehanna
Folk Music Society. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required.
Please call 717-846-6452.

Leviton will talk about the history of Jewish papercutting in
the context of the worldwide craft, and will present a slide show of examples.
Attendees will then be invited to create unique papercuttings of their own. The
challenge when making a papercut is that everything has to be connected. If
not, a piece will fall out.

“Discovering historical Jewish papercut art means you
connect to a spiritual sensibility that was once part of everyday life,”
Leviton explains.  Participants will have
the opportunity to work out their own designs using the tools and techniques of
tradition.

“Papercutting is an egalitarian craft; all you need is the
paper and a knife. But traditional Jewish papercutting is not solely
decorative. The words or images in the papercut generally refer to source texts,
the same way that ritual art worldwide uses images to remind people of their
foundations. And traditional papercuts also serves a  function. Whether at home or in the
synagogue, whether personal or communal, the papercut is tied to a life cycle
event or an observance in the Jewish calendar.”

A self-described “Jewish Cultural Worker,” Susan Leviton has
spent more than 20 years promoting and sharing Jewish culture through its
visual and musical arts. In her Harrisburg Levworks studio she produces calligraphic
art works in paper and fiber, and collaborates with fabricators in glass,
metal, and Formica, often mimicking the traditions of papercuts in those media.
Her ketubot (marriage contracts),
awards, and institutional art are found in homes, synagogues, and awardees’
offices across the country and in Jewish communities as far away as Denmark and
Ukraine.

This upbeat presentation offers a whirlwind tour of the
history of papercutting by examining papercut art spanning centuries from
Europe, Africa, and North America.

This is a free workshop for youth age 10 and older with one
accompanying parent. Pre-registration is required by calling (717) 846-6452.
This event, presented in collaboration with the York County Heritage Trust, is
part of a new series developed by the Susquehanna Folk Music Society and the
York County Convention and Visitors Bureau and is made possible by a grant from
the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. For more information, contact Susquehanna
Folk Music Society at (717) 763-5744 or go online to http://www.sfmsfolk.org.