At Home in Ithaca
In August, we moved to Ithaca from Richmond, VA. I was excited to find many opportunities to play.
Two bookstores, Borders in the mall and Autumn Leaves on the Commons; busking at the Ithaca Farmers Market (pictured) or on the Commons, and the pick-up band “Your Friends and Neighbors” playing for Monday night contra dances.
These performances also helped connect me with brides, other event planners, and dulcimer players looking for a teacher.
Thanks to Joanie’s performance and housing scholarships, I was able to go to this fall’s
festival, September 20-22, in Shepherdstown WV.
The housing scholarship allowed me to help with registration and concert CD sales in exchange for staying with a local host family. The performance scholarship is part of a grant program that reduces workshop costs for participants who provide a concert for an under-served audience. For my scholarship, I played at the local nursing home on Friday morning.
I arrived Thursday afternoon and went to visit Nick’s workshop, where he showed me an interesting instrument combination: a three-holed flute and a string drum (a sort of primitive hammered dulcimer, he says) called a tambour de bearne. Both are French instruments. Thursday evening, after the Blantons kindly invited me to join them for dinner, I went to O’Hurley’s for their weekly jam session, which was lots of fun.
The festival was a whirlwind, packed with classes, jams, and visiting with friends. It was good to see folks like Rick and Brandy Davis, Tim and Ro Seaman, Darlene Himes and her family, and others. I enjoyed my classes, including Tim’s composition class, Paul Oorts’ dulcimer ensemble, and Jody Marshall’s Scottish tunes class. I was particularly impressed with Jody’s exquisite expression; she makes an unadorned arrangement sound rich and meaningful. Saturday night’s concert with Steve Schneider and Paul Oorts, followed by Harmonia (featuring the cimbalom and Eastern European repertoire) was great, and a few of us had a nice “slow jam” afterwards. Definitely worth the long commute from up here in Ithaca.
It was on a fall weekend that I became the proud owner of a hammer dulcimer, and as another
anniversary drew near, I celebrated once again with a concert.
This year, the title was Celebrations and Traditions. The first half included celebrations of my studies with Tim Seaman, musical memories from my pre-dulcimer years, and original compositions about favorite things. In the second half, there were sets from Baroque, Christmas, and folk traditions. Marie (clarinet and recorder) and Lily (violin) joined me for the Baroque pieces.
A “preview” house concert for folks from church took place Friday night, with the concert proper the following evening. The warmth and intimacy of both small gatherings was a great way to celebrate this anniversary.