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NGI Recipient: Adam Riggen

Session Attended: Country Dance and Song Society - Harmony of Song & Dance (2014)

I heard about Harmony of Song and Dance Week and was encouraged to apply for the NGI Scholarship by a friend with whom I sing world folk music. She has been attending Pinewoods for years and while I had heard of it, I had previously only attended CDSS programs at Ogontz.

When I looked at the staff list for Harmony Week, I was very excited to get a chance to be part of it. My participation in folk music is mostly through singing, but it turns out that dancing was largely my focus at Harmony Week. This was because the dance musicians were so fantastic, as well as the calling. The Van Norstrand brothers created such high energy dance music that it was impossible to sit out at all during the evening dances. The English country dancing was also a large part of my enjoyment, due to Michael Cicone’s adept and engaging calling, as well as his well-placed and illuminating physical demonstrations of the more nuanced and graceful elements of English dancing.

After the dancing, my favorite part of the week was the staff performances. What a wonderful, intimate space for a performance. It was powerful to be around that staff of excellent musicians in such a warm and personal environment. Grey Larsen and Cindy Kallet particularly made an impression on me, with their level of skill and friendly personalities. Their trio performance with Michael was one of the singular moments of the week.

I learned most from the late night singing of some of the well-versed campers, especially Bob Rodriguez and Neville. I learned a couple of songs from each of them, some directly and some on my own. Another inspiring singer was Nicole Singer. Her percussive dance class with Gillian Stewart was my favorite class¬†—¬†they are a great duo in teaching and demonstrating interesting improvisatory dance techniques, made especially rewarding by Noah Van Norstrand’s solo fiddle accompaniment.

My excitement about folk singing was revitalized by my experience at Harmony Week, and my interest in folk dancing rekindled. I very much look forward to learning more songs from the folks I met there, and I feel more confident about my ability to learn music by ear and perform in the casual pub setting. I have already taught some songs to my friends and brought music to the singing community that I’m currently part of (a 10 week touring ensemble), and plan to bring this and other music to a more permanent singing community when I become an established member of society.

The NGI Scholarship made it possible for me to attend, and I am very grateful for CDSS and PCI’s generosity in making the opportunity available to myself and the other low-income young people in attendance. I hope this model is sustainable and CDSS and PCI can continue to support young folk music enthusiasts in this way. Thank you!