Classical meets traditional cello - Abby Newton

As a mid-week change of pace, the Bach Cello Suites Workshop offers the opportunity to learn about the cello as a folk instrument.  We welcome Abby Newton to the workshop.  She will show how the cello can be an asset to a folk group and how the classical musician can benefit from listening and improvising.

Uploaded Image: /uploads/abby_danc.jpgAbby Newton is well known for her groundbreaking work in the revival of the cello in American and Scottish traditional music. As part of the folk music revival of the past many decades there has been a movement to restore the unique richness of the cello to traditional music. Abby has been on the forefront of that movement since meeting Jay Ungar (Ashokan Farewell), Lyn Hardy, and John Cohen (New Lost City Ramblers). The four formed the Putnam String County Band, toured extensively, and performed at most of the major festivals including Mariposa, Binghamton, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Although classically trained, she improvised cello parts to their arrangements of traditional American music.

The Cello

Today the cello is usually considered a classical instrument, but from the late 17th to early 19th centuries it was used in folk ensembles to provide low, driving rhythms for dance tunes and to render haunting Scottish airs. In those days, "folk" and "classical" music were often performed by the same musicians. Instrumentation was shared too, with violin and cello figuring prominently in both contexts. Many indigenous Scottish tunes were given formal arrangements by the great composers of the period. Haydn, Beethoven, and Mendelssohn all composed settings.

Find out more about Abby and her workshops in the Catskill Mountains at her website


Note: The previously announced appearance by Melora Creager has been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

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