Recording the music and traditions of ethnic Connecticut
Some of Connecticut’s best traditional musicians take us on a fascinating and unexpected world tour of music from their homelands—and our backyards!
For an old Yankee state, Connecticut has a surprising diversity in its cities, rural areas, and neighborhoods. To highlight the importance and richness of Connecticut’s quilted character, ICR’s Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program partnered with CT Public Radio station WNPR to produce a CD that presents a selection of the state’s best traditional musicians from a wide variety of communities.
Lynne Williamson of CCHAP and John Dankosky of Connecticut Public Broadcasting first brought these artists into the station’s studio in 1995 as part of a series of radio features on the music and traditions of ethnic Connecticut. The project made digital recording of the artists in performance. For many of the artists, these recordings represent the only documentation of their music. The quality of their performances makes a compilation CD the obvious choice for bringing this vibrant music to public attention. With the help of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Humanities Council, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts as well as our own organizations, we are proud to offer this world music journey of Connecticut neighborhoods.
The radio features we produced examined the ways in which musical traditions both strengthen and draw from deep cultural roots. In selecting musicians for the series we looked for those who were closely involved in their communities, artists whose personal stories reflected the history, character and the values of their cultural group and who showed deep commitment to serving that group. How these musicians deal with moving to America from a beloved homeland, sometimes in forced exile, is expressed in their music. They persist in passing on traditions and language when so many pressures in contemporary society argue against this. Clearly there is intensive cultural preservation going on among ethnic groups in Connecticut and that brings both joy in the music and a sense of hope for a stronger society.
This entire CD playlist can be found on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQADSQWIFBGMT8KF36Qsk2Ys_qC4UB_ZU.