The Kindred Spirits Arts program will be presenting us with “Simple Gifts” on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. at the Good Shepard Episcopal Church.
These “Simple Gifts” are actually an award-winning musical duo with two women playing 12 instruments, effortlessly switching back and forth among fiddle, mandolin, guitar, guitjo (a six-string banjo that looks like a guitar and produces a raspy sound), recorders, hammered dulcimer, baritone fiddle and even Cajun-style spoons as percussion instruments.
Linda Littleton and Karen Hirshon have been playing together for 28 years. They are also good friends who live about a mile apart in State College and their chemistry emanates throughout whatever type of music they are playing be it a lively Irish jig, Appalachian Mountain music, Klezmer, Balkan Dance Music or Scandinavian twin fiddling.
Their musical arrangements are as exotic and varied as the instruments they play.
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free’
Littleton and Hirshon took the name of their duo from the famous Shaker folk song, “Simple Gifts,” written in 1848 by Joseph Brackett. The song itself expresses the wonder and simplicity of a gift of music, as well as the Shaker philosophy of simplicity and humility. It is one which is quite familiar to many and it was the inspiration for Stravinsky’s “Appalachian Spring,“ among other music.
“The minute people hear the familiar melody,” Littleton said, “they have an ‘ah ha moment’ and the words just come tripping across their tongues.”
The first two lines of the lyrics are ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free, ‘tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.”
Littleton and Hirshon have given concerts before with Kindred Spirits and are delighted to return to Milford.
They will be giving two workshops; one at DV and the other either at Shohola or Ding-Del, where they will have a very hands-on interaction with the students, especially demonstrating how to play the spoons. They will also explain more about the instruments and the specific culture that the music comes from. Littleton and Hirshon love to interact with their audiences and to explain and teach, even with the adult audiences.
This is perfect for Kindred Spirits since their mission is to “Educate Entertain and Enlighten.”
One thing is for certain, people will come out of the concert, smiling and humming the tunes they heard and will be grateful, in this post-Covid world, to be enjoying the “Simple Gifts.”
Tickets are $20 and are available at the door or in advance at evetbrite.com.
Upcoming events: Alexander Markov on March 17 (https://www.alexandermarkov.com/)
And four more concerts around the old pool from terrace. For more information, see kindredspiritsarts.org or www.facebook.com/kindredspirit.