«Back to all NGI Letters

NGI Recipient: Elliot Isen

Session Attended: Folk Arts Center of New England - Cape Breton Weekend (2018)

I am so grateful to the Folk Arts Center of New England and Pinewoods Camp for a generous NGI scholarship that made it possible for me to attend FAC’s third Cape Breton Music and Dance Weekend at Pinewoods in June 2018.

The opportunity to learn from masters of Cape Breton traditions — the amazingly talented members of the band Beòlach — in an intimate and beautiful setting was inspiring and truly so much fun. I have been playing fiddle for about 12 years, and my first teacher — introduced to me through the Folk Arts Center — was from Cape Breton, so the tradition has special meaning for me.

I wish I played more often, but the demands of work and life often (unfortunately) mean that fiddle is not a top priority. However, an immersive weekend-long musical experience, like at the Cape Breton Music and Dance Weekend, has a funny way of reordering those priorities. Fresh from a vibrant weekend at Pinewoods with friends new and old, I soon set up a time to visit my friend’s studio and record some tunes. It was a blast! I am really thankful that the weekend sparked this musical momentum –let’s see what happens next!

I would also be remiss not to mention the energetic Cape Breton step dancing class that provided a solid cardio workout and a spirited way to participate in the jam sessions. Next year, I will have to work on fiddling and step dancing at the same time.

I encourage you to keep an eye out for details on next year’s Cape Breton Music and Dance Weekend and come join us – you won’t regret it!