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Rachel Barton Pine

Rachel's Musical Adventures: UCC 50th, Fiddle Camp, Boston trip

June 21, 2007 at 11:50 PM

JUNE 23: Performance for the United Church of Christ’s 50th anniversary celebration – WATCH ONLINE LIVE!

On Saturday, June 23 at 12:30 pm, pianist Matt Hagle and I will perform a recital at “Synod In The City,” the gala celebration for the 50th anniversary of the United Church of Christ.

The concert will take place on the Main Stage at The Hartford Civic Center. Our program will comprise Bach’s Sonata in E Major, 1st and 4th movements; Coleridge-Taylor’s Deep River, arranged by Maud Powell; Still’s Here's One; Bloch’s Simchas Torah, and Baker’s Deliver My Soul.

During the 8:00 hour that evening, I will give a short speech about my faith journey and perform my own virtuosic variations on “Happy Birthday.” This will also take place on the Main Stage.

Both performances will be streamed live across the internet at www.ucc.org. Concert times are in Eastern Standard Time.

The United Church of Christ is a blend of four principal traditions - Congregational, Christian, Evangelical, and Reformed. One of the most diverse Christian churches in the United States, the UCC has roots in the "covenantal" tradition - meaning there is no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. Many “firsts” are part of our history, including:
1700 - Congregationalists are among the first Americans to take a stand against slavery
1785 - First ordained African American pastor
1840 - First united church in U.S. history
1846 - First integrated anti-slavery society
1853 - First woman pastor
1972 - Ordination of first openly gay minister

“Synod in the City” begins June 22 and runs through June 26. The five day conference will feature speakers, theologians, artists, performers, and multimedia events in a variety of venues throughout downtown Hartford, CT. For more information, please contact the United Church of Christ at (866) 822-8224 or visit www.ucc.org.


JUNE 24-30: Mark O’Connor’s Fiddle Camp in Tennessee

Most summers, I travel to Montgomery Bell State Park, near Nashville, to teach and perform at Mark O’Connor’s Fiddle Camp. The students range from ages 8 to 80, from beginners to professionals, and from fiddlers to classically-trained string players. It’s five days full of instruction, seminars, demonstrations, concerts and jamming for those who play violin and fiddle (and cello too!).

This year’s faculty will include: Gilles Apap and Darol Anger (World), Michael Cleveland and Aubrey Haynie (Bluegrass), Dr. M. Manjunath (Indian), Michael Doucet (Cajun), Daniel Bernard-Roumain (Hip-Hop), Buddy Spicher (Swing), Luke Bulla and Randy Elmore (Texas Style), Tracy Silverman (Electric Violin), Bruce Molsky (Old Time), Sara Caswell and Christian Howes (Jazz), and April Verch (Canadian).

Every evening, throughout the week, selected members of the faculty will collaborate and perform for the students. My turn on stage will be Thursday, June 28.

While the 2007 Tennessee Fiddle Camp is sold out, you contact them at (615)941-7426 or learn more at: www.markoconnor.com.


Rachel’s Musical Adventures
“Boston Early Music Festival”
June 21, 2007

Hi, everyone!

Last weekend, I spent a few days at the Boston Early Music Festival (www.bemf.org). This was my first time at BEMF, and it was a remarkable experience. I attended a number of performances and was exposed to an amazing world of often-overlooked instruments and performers.

The highlight for me was definitely the opera Psyche by Lully, featuring world-class singers and instrumentalists. I was surprised to see the orchestra members facing each other in a long oval configuration, led by the concertmaster with no conductor. It worked very well – their ensemble was excellent. The visual elements were particularly exceptional. The costumes were great and I was fascinated by the authentic dancing in a style that preceded ballet. BEMF presents a different Baroque opera every two years, drawing upon the latest information about period singing, orchestral performance, costuming, and staging. I strongly recommend attending if you possibly can!

There are a number of interesting instruments that were invented in response to gender biases of the Baroque period. I met and played two of these, instruments that have drifted into near-obscurity for a variety of reasons. At the Unprofitable Instruments booth, I tried a string instrument I had only read about in books – the tromba marina. Women weren’t allowed to play the trumpet, so this instrument was invented as an alternative, and it sounds surprisingly similar. Though it has been almost forgotten today, it inspired the use of harmonics by players of violin family instruments and the concept of thumb position on the cello. To learn more, please visit www.trombamarina.com/tm.htm and www.organicdesign.org/peterson/tromba/MFA_tromba_ref.html.

trying to play the tromba marina


I had the opportunity to hear another unusual instrument in performance – the pardessus de viole. It is basically a miniature viola da gamba (smaller even than the treble viol), with five instead of six or seven strings. This instrument was also invented because of gender taboos – women who weren’t allowed to play the violin under their chin could set the pardessus on their lap and play violin parts. Men also came to appreciate the instrument and to compose specifically for it. To learn more, please visit users.skynet.be/richardsutcliffe/pardessus.htm. Played by a virtuosa like Joanna Blendulf, it clearly has its own unique voice in the string instrument world.

To commemorate my visit, I purchased a rebec, one of the medieval ancestors of the violin. For more information about rebecs, you can check out this great web page: crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/rebec.html. I’m hoping to find some time to learn to play it this summer, and I look forward to jamming on it with David Douglass who generously helped me pick it out.

my new rebec and its maker, Kate McWilliams

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on June 22, 2007 at 2:19 AM
You've had such a busy and interesting time. Thanks for sharing all that info and the photos with us.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on June 22, 2007 at 5:31 AM
I hadn't heard of Michael Cleveland until tonight, when I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in twenty years and he mentioned he'd been doing some web stuff for him. I emailed Aubrey Haynie once when I was trying to figure out who was playing fiddle on a country song I heard. It turned out to be him ("studio musicians often don't get the credit they deserve, especially when they get the credits wrong") :) He's second fiddle to nobody, and seems like a great guy. I love his playing on that song. The howling at the moon song. Country fans and Waffle House patrons know it.
From Donna Clegg
Posted on June 23, 2007 at 11:49 PM
I loved my camp experience at the TN site and wish I was attending next week too. I was an adult beginner and gained so much from a solid week of playing with great instruction in so many styles. I've heard rumors that Mark will open a camp in NY. Any truth to that?
From Terez Mertes
Posted on June 26, 2007 at 2:56 PM
Rachel, what a delight to read this and the rest of your blogs. Thanks so much for dropping in and sharing your world with us! Please do continue.

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