Some Reviews written by Fans

Pat Hornak, 2009 ... Linda Prager, 2009 ... Michaela Hamilton, 2004 ... Eileen Pentel, comments 2009 ... Back to Eisteddfod Page

Festival of Traditional Music, Eisteddfod 2009

by Pat Hornak

Thinking back on the 2009 Eisteddfod weekend, the word magic comes to mind:

– Hearing burr, brogue and other wonderful accents, meeting engaging and warm personalities, sharing songs precious to them and to us.

- Two beautiful young women singing duets in Serbian and in French.

- Hearing ancient ballads from Brittany and making a connection (in one case) to an actual event in the 1500’s.

- Accounts of Irish, Scottish, and Norwegian traditions at home, both ancient and up to date.

- Lusty incredible blues singing and “gee-tar” picking.

- Workshops including dulcimer, fiddling, back-up guitar, and exotic string instruments.

- Songs of labor, of lust, of the supernatural, even old time country religion.

- And dancing! Clogging, percussive, and French traditional dance.


Festival of Traditional Music, Eisteddfod 2009

By Linda Prager

I am sitting in my apartment listening to "Our Ship Is Ready" from the CD, "White Wings" with Alison McMorland & Geordie McIntyre.  Before I attended the Eisteddfod Festival this past weekend, I had not heard (or heard of) these wonderful performers.  Now as I listen to the CD, I am reliving the incredible feeling of a joyful discovery.  There were many other new discoveries for me this past weekend.  While a member of Pinewoods since the early 70's, I am more recently discovering the music that was presented at the festival.  So, while I have heard several of the performers, many were new to me.  In addition, to the great music that was presented, these discoveries are what made the weekend so special for me.  

The challenge of the weekend was to choose between so many workshops that called to me.  I was not disappointed in the ones I attended, and I'm sure I would have felt the same way regardless of which workshop I went to.  But, one has to make a choice, so I did.  I started Saturday morning laughing and singing along in a workshop called, "Always Good for a Laugh".   Everyone should start their day this way.  Then I went on to listen to stories and songs about the "Urban Folk Revival"; heard "Songs of the Supernatural"; had lunch; traveled to the Mississippi Delta to hear Paul Geremia play the blues; and ended that day with "More Ballads from Europe".  Each workshop ended too quickly for me, but then I got to go to the next one.  So, I really can't complain.  

Sunday started with a workshop by Alison and Geordie, called "Roots and Routes".  I knew they felt the pressure of time, because they had so much to share both with their recollections of how they become involved in their music, and the songs themselves.  At the "Catskill Mtn. Tradition" workshop, we got to sing along, and give our voices some exercise.  Then we learned from Roy Harris, how to get people to join in on the chorus; again giving us an opportunity to sing.  This morning for me, was a great blend of listening and participating.  

The concerts (Friday and Saturday evenings, and Sunday afternoon) gave us the opportunity to hear more from everyone, and was a way to hear people whose workshops you couldn't attend, and to sing along.  

Sunday's concert and the festival ended with David Jones leading us all in "Let Union Be In All Our Hearts".  The room was filled with all our individual voices joined together in song. 

Roy Harris talked about the joy in being in a community of people making music, and that's what this weekend meant for me.  

The festival was presented by the Folk Music Society of New York, Inc. (New York Pinewoods Folk Music Club), as well as many other organizations (too many to mention here).  I want to thank the Pinewoods board for creatively combining their usual Fall Weekend with this Festival.  It was a great way to combine two wonderful events, and to bring people together who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to meet and hear each other.  I know that's what happened for me.

As I end this piece, I am still listening to the CD, and Alison's voice is coming to me through my computer's speaker.  Not the same as seeing her expressive face as she sings, but I didn't know her singing before this weekend, and isn't that what it's all about?   

Confessions of an Eistedd-Fan

Eisteddfod-NY 2004; by Michaela Hamilton

“I said FOOD.”  No.  “Instead FUDD.”  No.  “EYES and FOOT.”  No.
My friends were coaching me in how to pronounce “Eisteddfod,” the Welsh word for a festival of song, which has come to denote a folk music gathering.  Formerly held at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, the Eisteddfod has immigrated (like so many culture waves) to Brooklyn.  

“It’s not just Celtic music,” they told me.  As if Celtic music wouldn’t be enough of a draw!  In fact the Eisteddfod, held August 13 – 15, 2004 on the leafy campus of Polytechnic University in downtown Brooklyn, featured singers and instrumentalists from all over the Northeast and more distant parts of the world.  Old-time, bluegrass, Hungarian, folk—you name it, and your favorite music was probably there to be enjoyed, either by a “name performer” you always look forward to hearing, or by a new performer waiting to be discovered.  

For a first-time attendee, the Eisteddfod was a kaleidoscope of pleasant surprises.  It was amazingly easy to get to; my choice of several subway routes swiftly brought me right to the corner of the campus.  The strains of merry fiddle music drew me first to the registration desk, where my volunteer status whirled me into a bagel-shopping expedition for the hospitality suite—as good a way as I could imagine to quickly meet fellow music lovers and get a taste of the friendly companionship that pervaded the event. 

Next stop:   Alan Friend’s workshop on “Songs of the South,” which offered the chance to enjoy some choice banjo licks in an intimate setting.  Other workshops focused on such topics as Songs of the American Civil War, Woody Guthrie's Musical Evolution, and the English Music Hall. Evening concerts brought more opportunities for music to please the ears and fellowship to lift the spirits.  Not to overlook the basics:  clean indoor restrooms and free tasty snacks for volunteers added to the sense that among music festivals, Eisteddfod was an exercise in creature comfort.

It’s not too soon to start looking to the next Eisteddfod.  That’s Eisteddfod—pronounced (as I have proudly learned) “Eye-STEAD-fodd.”  Don’t bother to say it, just plan to attend.

Eisteddfod Confessions Continued! 

The Traveling Road Show of the Festival of Traditional Music.   by Eileen Pentel

I really enjoyed reading Michaela’s article.  It made me remember the festivals that followed and the places we have been.  FMSNY’s first revival in New York  (thanks to Jerry Epstein’s urging and hard work), started out in Brooklyn, and then went to Queens.  Starting last year, we are now in upstate New York, in a different place but still a resort.

We combined our Fall Weekend and the Eisteddfod as an experiment which I really enjoyed.  Staying at the resort for the whole time—not having to rush home for many people—allowed us to hang out with each other longer.  Of course it is a richer program.  There are more staff and more workshops than on our regular weekend.  The only downside is trying to decide which workshops to attend. 
Come and join us this fall.  You will be pleasantly surprised.  Feedback is always important for us and we have taken into consideration comments of last attendees to make this year’s Eisteddfod even better.  I am really looking forward to it and seeing you there.

Pat Hornak, 2009 ... Linda Prager, 2009 ... Michaela Hamilton, 2004 ... Eileen Pentel, comments 2009 ... Back to Eisteddfod Page

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rev 8/24/10