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Musical Duo Simple Gifts to Perform

Musical Duo Simple Gifts to Perform


Two women plus 12 instruments equals one good time when Simple Gifts takes the stage on Friday, March 8, at SUNY Cortland.

Combining tradition with innovation, Simple Gifts creates some of the finest folk music today: swing fiddle creeps into a Romanian dance, spoons show up in an Irish reel, and a blues lick introduces a Klezmer melody. Music is delivered with rare intensity and contagious enthusiasm.

Simple Gifts will take the stage at 7 p.m. in Old Main Brown Auditorium.

Presented by the College’s Campus Artist and Lecture Series (CALS), admission to the performance is $3 for all students and free to all children 10 and under. General admission is $10 with a senior citizen discount price of $8 for individuals age 60 and older. Tickets may be obtained through the Campus Activities and Corey Union Office, Room 406, or at the door one hour prior to the performance. All performances are general admission seating. For more information, call 607-753-5574.

Based in Lemont, Pa., in the hills of central Pennsylvania, Linda Littleton and Karen Hirshon play an amazing array of instruments. The women switch with ease among fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, guitjo, recorders, bowed psaltery, hammered dulcimer, baritone fiddle, guitar and percussion.

The duo plays everything from lively Irish jigs and down-home American reels to hard-driving Klezmer frailachs and haunting Gypsy melodies, spicing the mix with the distinctive rhythms of Balkan dance music, the lush sounds of Scandinavian twin fiddling and original compositions written in a traditional style.

Simple Gifts is frequently complimented on their stage presence, which is warm, personal and accented with humor.

Simple Gifts founding member Littleton began her musical studies with classical violin lessons at age 7. Over the years, she has studied with Joanne Zagst Feldman, Ray Montoni and Geoffrey Michaels. As a student at Princeton University, Littleton majored in philosophy with a minor in music and a specialty of philosophy of music. She has a strong background as a classical violinist, having served as principal second violin in the Nittany Valley Symphony. In addition to violin, Littleton plays hammered dulcimer, bowed psaltery, 5-string banjo and recorders.

Raised in a family that emphasized church music, Hirshon grew up singing and easily harmonizing hymns. At age 10, she began violin lessons. Three years later, her fascination with blues and American folk music led her to study folk guitar. As a student at Grinnell College in Iowa, Hirshon designed her own specialty, “Traditional Music in American Culture,” within the field of American studies, combining history, anthropology and music. She studied and was influenced by ragtime, classical, American string band music, African drumming, blues, gospel and jazz. During the 1970s, Hirshon toured nationally with the bluegrass band Whetstone Run and helped found the American old-time group, Rustical Quality String Band, with which she has released two albums. Over the years, Hirshon has picked up baritone fiddle, mandolin, banjolin, banjo-guitar and a variety of percussion instruments.

The event is supported by the Auxiliary Services Corporation and the Cortland College Foundation. For more information, visit the Simple Gifts website. For information about other CALS events, visit the CALS website.