“American society is most tolerant of ethnic differences in the areas of cuisine and innocuous folk arts.”
These words come from from “Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World” by William Douglass (thank you David Romtvedt for this quote) and they set me to thinking how The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes contributes to a spirit of tolerance, so badly needed in the world right now.
At “Fiddle Tunes” we honor other-ness, but we also embrace it, both figuratively, by learning and playing tunes directly from master traditional musicians, and literally, as we dance together in steps that may have come from an unfamiliar place. The folk arts may seem innocuous, but they can be a powerful tool for bringing together people of different heritages, including some which may have a long history of conflict.
The 2013 Festival features a particularly ethnically diverse faculty, representing many distinctive flavors (though by no means all) from our American melting pot. Polish music from Texas, Jewish music from the Carpathian Mountains (via Kansas City, Missouri), music from the northland including Quebecois, Down East (Maine) and Cape Breton, from Louisiana (both Cajun and Creole) and even further south, from Central Mexico. A rich variety of old time fiddle styles from the Southeast, Midwest and Northwest. And, the Basques, perhaps the most exotic of them all!
I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be around all of these amazing musicians. Some are old friends, and others I have long admired from afar. It is a privilege and a pleasure to work with them. We’re still working on adding staff, including the always awesome tutorial staff, so stay tuned!
(Photo by Gabrielle Savoy)