Ken's Voyages Around the Sun

Ashokan Farewell
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On Monday or Tuesday the local PBS radio station mentioned an arts-calendar event that I found interesting: Jay Ungar and his family would be performing at Cornell at the end of the week.

Now, I don't know about you, but something in Jay's fiddle piece Ashokan Farewell strikes a chord with me. It is, perhaps, the loveliest violin composition I've ever heard. You may know it as the theme song to Ken Burns' PBS-aired Civil War series from some time ago.

Anyway, to learn that the tickets were only $15 each sent me immediately plotting on how to juggle the schedule to attend the performance while mom was in town. It came down to me and her going to the show while Shelley stayed home with the girls. We really do need to find a sitter for such occasions but we don't yet know anyone within practical distance for that.

Besides his signature piece, the group played various old-time fiddle tunes, Civil War music, some jazz compositions, and samplings of other styles. In addition to fiddles they performed on guitar, piano, drums, bass, and a couple of other instruments for one or two pieces. Some of the songs had vocal accompaniment.

One unique thing: Jay's daughter played most of the night while wearing a three-month-old baby on her back. At first he bopped along to the music, later falling asleep in the middle of a song she was playing. The audience loved the act.

A great night overall, with an enthusiastic crowd of folk-music lovers. Jay made several quips about the recent election, but he was preaching to the choir. They also mentioned a supposed lack of attendance in performances because of the economy, but tonight they filled the large auditorium with 500-600 people, so no evidence of the problem there. On the other hand, we're talking about $15-tickets, not the much more expensive kind for more popular acts.

Time to get out the fiddle and rosin up the bow.

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