On October 23, 2023, the Governor's Arts Awards recipients were celebrated during a live streaming awards ceremony, filmed at Studio Lab in Derry. The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, in cooperation with the Governor's Office, biennially takes the opportunity to publicly acknowledge and recognize outstanding contributions to the state’s arts and cultural life made by individuals, organizations and communities through the presentation of the Governor's Arts Awards.
The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is delighted to announce the Fiddling Thomsons as the recipient of the 2023 Governor's Arts Awards in Folk Heritage. The Folk Heritage Award "recognizes a New Hampshire traditional folk artist who has made a significant contribution to his or her art form and the cultural community, reflecting a lifetime of achievement." The 2023 Folk Heritage Award was sponsored by Sanborn Mills Farm.
|Photo: The Fiddling Thomsons at the GAA's. Photo by Abbigail Nelson.
Ryan learned to play via his mother, father, and extended family through the aural tradition. Brennish started playing fiddle at age 2 and grew up surrounded by music, accompanying his father to gigs and teaching activities. Thus, they both learned by the passing down of tunes through the generations. Brennish has also mastered guitar, mandolin, banjo, and hand- held percussion instruments including bones and wooden spoons. He teaches both children and adults in his surrounding community and at fiddle schools and music camps nationally.
Ryan is a multi-instrumentalist as well. He plays fiddle, 5 string banjo, pennywhistle, accordion, and piano, among others. He has authored numerous fiddling and fiddle books, recordings, and instructional DVD videos on various musical topics.
Together, The Fiddling Thomsons have performed at many New Hampshire venues, such as libraries, parks, festivals and dances. With their performances is often an educational component. They are both adept at engaging with their audiences, giving history of tunes and anecdotes. Their tunes were passed on to them in the aural tradition, from generation to generation, and they continue to pass on the musical heritage.