Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Tradition and Fine Craftsmanship of Lutherie Resonates in New Hampshire

photos courtesy Tim Gaudreau,
New Hampshire is well known for its history of fine craftsmanship and highly skilled artisans. You can hear a variety of live music in the state's cities at least a few nights a week. Depending on the circles you frequent, some of these craft and music traditions are more prominently visable, while and others exert quieter reverberations. As in any music, quiet reverberations can be powerful.

John Whiteside and Tim Gaudreau were awarded a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant in Lutherie, and recently finished their Apprenticeship together. John and Tim belong to a larger statewide group that is interested in this tradition, the Granite State Luthiers Guild. This art and musical form dates thousands of years back to lute making in both Greece and versions of the instrument in India and China.

Tim Gaudreau has been documenting his experience learning Lutherie with John through a blog where he discusses tool building, wood selection, design, inlay, listening, learning, and experimenting. Tim admits that the blog isn't finished, "It's sorely out of date as I have been so busy working on the guitar that I haven't had the time to write about it. I do plan to update this though."

Here is a quote from Tim's blog, but we encourage you to check out his full blog here:

"John likes to build guitars with a particular sound in mind and he keeps that focus when selecting woods and constructing the instrument. It’s a tricky thing to describe, but with some of the sounds of the songs in our heads, we did some tap tone testing on sample tonewoods to see if we could pick out something that had the same feeling in its sound quality."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Concord Multicultural Festival, guest blog by Jessica Fogg

Our first guest blogger is Jessica Fogg of JFogg Social Inspirations. Jessica is Event Chair and Organizer of the Concord Multicultural Festival. She can be reached at
photos taken by Lynn Martin Graton

The 8th Annual Concord Multicultural Festival was held on a perfect fall day, at the State House Plaza on September 28th, 2013. The afternoon was packed with dynamic and engaging performances, delectable cuisines from around the world, fun activities for the kids and the essence of what the event is meant to be about: lots of community spirit.

About 11 years ago, the Greater Concord Area Task Force Against Racism & Intolerance began coordinating community discussions. The 2004 discussion, titled "The Changing Face of Concord: Racial, Ethnic & Cultural Diversity," nearly everyone involved recognized the importance of street festivals to the civic life of Concord, so they decided that a big outdoor party was the ideal way to advance the goals of racial and ethnic tolerance and understanding in our small but quickly changing community. And thus the Concord Multicultural Festival was born!

The mission is to raise local awareness of those newly arriving in our community and appreciation for cultural diversity with the hope that increased awareness, supported by educational programs will inspire our neighbors to accept, welcome and assist the newest members of our community. After all, our ancestors were all immigrants or refugees at one point.

Participants shared and celebrated their native cultures through music, dance, food, crafts, and storytelling. There were 15 different performances ranging from a Chinese Lion Dance, Celtic bagpipes and fiddling, Burundian drumming, Nicaraguan dancing, Indian Carnatic singing, African Dance, Bhutanese Singing, German Classical music, and Nepali Singers. I had a wonderful committee comprised of Unitarian Church members who have a great relationship with the New American communities, staff from Lutheran Social Services (the organization that facilitates the Refugee Resettlement Program), and a few other enthusiastic people who were passionate about organizing the event. We had many local sponsors as well that made the event possible. I was also extremely lucky to have the guidance and support of the past organizers who started the event. - Jessica Fogg


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Alice Ogden, Traditional Black Ash Basket Maker visits with Cynthia Robinson's 5th & 6th grade at Madison Elementary School

As part of the 2013 Arts in Education Partnership Conference, the NH State Council on the Arts partnered with the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire and Madison Elementary School to bring traditional black ash basket maker Alice Ogden to Madison Elementary for a one day artist visit with 5th and 6th grade students.

Alice brought in many examples of baskets she's made, tools, and even a black ash log to demonstrate how the growth rings are split from the tree to make different baskets for different functions. Students worked with Alice and art teacher, Cynthia Robinson to weave a tree star. This artist visit complements many of the other units Cynthia does with her students, placing a high value on respecting and creating art with natural materials.

Through cultural artistic traditions and skills students learn about other cultures as well as their own. They develop empathy and understanding for the expressions of other cultures as well as reaffirm what makes their own community unique. Learning connections beyond the school day and for lifelong learning are fostered by having a traditional artist in the classroom.Sharing the cultural and artistic traditions of a community offers many opportunities for youth to engage in hands on experiential learning and make connections to their culture and heritage. These connections can be used to support the curriculum of many subjects including social studies, history, citizenship, earth science, english language arts, mathematics, and of course the visual arts, music, dance and theatre.

Listen to Cynthia and Alice discuss the importance of artist visits to the classroom: