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Young Tradition Festival

The 2020 Young Tradition Festival was cancelled due to Covid-19.  However, the annual contest continued in an online format.

In late April and early May, Young Tradition Vermont usually brings together young people involved in traditional music and dance, and those who support and are interested in what they do, in an effort to share with the community young trad singers, players and dancers and what they bring to the world. At the Young Tradition Festival, young folks are a major focus, supported by teachers, mentors, friends and families. With opportunities to interact with others, young people use what inspires them, what they learn, and performances to be inspired by and to inspire others.

For more information contact Young Tradition Festival Manager Yasi Zeichner at yazbozz@gmail.com or Young Tradition Vermont Executive Director Mark Sustic at mark.sustic@gmail.com.


2020 Young Tradition Contest

We announced the contest winners on May 2nd, 6pm, via Facebook Live! Visit the YTV Facebook page to find the video of the announcement there. 

The results of the contest voting process were as follows:

1st place: Andrew Caden
2nd place: Abi Sandy and Sebastiaan West
3rd place: Francois-Felix Roy
Finalist: Giri and Uma Peters
Finalist: The Kowal Family Band
Finalist: Brothers Luper and Simon Lace
Finalist: Owen Kennedy
Finalist: The Carter Girls
Finalist: Émilien and Lauryane Durocher
Finalist: Benjamin Foss
annual winners concert poster:

Congratulations to all who entered in the contest for a round of fantastic submissions! All contest submissions from 2020 can be viewed below.

If you have any questions, contact festival manager Yasi Zeichner (yazbozz@gmail.com) or Mark Sustic (mark.sustic@gmail.com)


Contest Details

For 2020, the Young Tradition Festival Contest will be an online format only.  The contest is designed to encourage young musicians and dancers to perform and support their involvement in traditional music and dance. In addition to cash prizes, the winners are provided performance opportunities in the region and linkages that would support continued involvement in traditional music and dance.

It’s a great way to link with other young people with similar interests, mentors and teachers, and has opened doors for many to other performance opportunities. We award the top three a cash prize ($1000, $500 and $250, respectively).  Send an email by the deadline to Young Tradition Festival manager Yasi Zeichner at yazbozz@gmail.com and to mark.sustic@gmail.com  with the following:

  • a video of your performance
  • the names and ages of all the performers
  • a brief biography of yourself or the group (3-4 sentences)

Videos must be at least one minute long and no more than 5 minutes in length.   You may send either a video in the email itself, or a link to a video posted online (at a performer website, or YouTube, for example). All contestants must be at or under the age of 25 on May 2nd, 2020.  The only exception is for groups: If the average age of group members is 25 or younger, half or more of the group is 25 or younger, and no one is over 30, the group qualifies for the contest. We post videos and biographies on the Young Tradition Vermont website for public viewing. Young Tradition Vermont board members and past winners of the contest vote for up to 10 finalists. On May 2nd prizes will be announced at the same time that the Young Tradition Touring Group violin raffle is announced.


2020 Contest Submissions

Émilien Durocher is 17 years old and he started to play violin at the age of 6. He discovered folk music when he started. Émilien started to teach violin to show his passion for music to the others. He also love to play violin when her sister dance while the music’s on.

Lauryane is 13 years old and started to dance 5 years ago. She learned dance with the Chamanier and she started for about two years to create her dance to dance with her brother. Shes loves music and also to sing.


Maeve Fairfax (16) and Hadley Stockwell (15) are friends who are part of the Young Tradition Touring Group. They have performed together before and are excited to keep collaborating! Both play the fiddle, and Maeve also plays the flute. They are both currently high school students in 9th and 10th grade. They play a lot of different styles of music, but together they mostly play tunes from Quebec and Cape Breton!


Autumn Rose Lester (24) is a versatile musician whose passion for traditional fiddle music is clear from the energy and infectious joy in her playing. Currently living north of Boston, she grew up in the Central New York State contra dance community, both as a musician and as a dancer. Autumn Rose plays fiddle and piano, and recently studied abroad for a semester in Limerick, Ireland. Autumn Rose enjoys playing for contra dances and concerts, and teaching fiddle lessons whenever the opportunity arises. The set of jigs she played in this video is Shandon Bells (traditional) and The Lisnigun (by Brendan Ring).


The Kowal Family Band is a group of 4 siblings who came together and formed a small band approximately a year ago when they moved from Maine to Vermont. Max (16) is on guitar and lead vocals. Finn (15) is on banjo, Mae (12) is on fiddle, and Ted (11) is on mandolin. They love playing bluegrass and they have performed several times here in Vermont. Find more about them on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kowalfamilyband/


Fachan is a trio of multi-instrumentalists from around the world coming together through the power of the internet to create a sound unique in its own. Jordan Neil, Matthew Brouard and Everest Witman bring together three distinct styles of guitar, each covering primary tunings of Celtic music; Standard, Drop D and DADGAD respectively. The warmth of Standard, the punch of Drop D and the sustain of DADGAD blend to create a rich harmonic sound with unprecedented aural flavor.


Hilary Weitzner has grown up surrounded by music, and has been playing fiddle for 8 years! She is trained mostly in Irish and French Canadian  styles, and more recently has been branching out into the bluegrass world as well as Swedish and Scottish music. She’s been in the YTV touring group for the New York Tour, and has participated in the group this year as well. Here Hilary is playing a Hanneke Cassel tune called Patience, follows by a reel named Fly Fishing, and then finishing with another tune by Hanneke Cassel,  Chris Childs. She can’t wait to connect with musicians in person again and is excited to participate in the contest!


Andrew Caden is a senior in high school from Bethesda, MD. He is the 2017 All-Ireland fiddle champion (15-18), and has won multiple All-Ireland medals in fiddle slow airs as well. Andrew plays in the old Sligo-style of traditional Irish fiddle music made famous by Michael Coleman in the 1920’s and 30’s, and he studies with the acclaimed Irish fiddler Brian Conway from New York. In 2014, Andrew received the Frankie Kennedy Memorial Scholarship awarded to traditional Irish musicians by the Greater Washington Ceili Club. He has performed with the Chieftains at Strathmore, at the Kennedy Center, the Irish Embassy, and for a variety of political dignitaries in the Washington DC area. Andrew will be attending Boston College in Fall 2020.


Courtney and Cordell Drew (22 and 24), a brother/sister duo, have a passion for traditional music. Their musical interests range from Old-Time to Celtic, Cape Breton and Quebecois, and they enjoy playing for dances, festivals and various events.


Owen Kennedy is a fourteen year old fiddler from Maine whose love of traditional music and enthusiasm for performing has charmed audiences from Cape Breton to San Diego to the Shetland Islands and all over New England.  He enjoys traditional tunes from Maine and beyond and appreciates the challenge of playing true to the authentic style of a place and culture.  Owen is always excited to share music, whether performing solo, jamming with friends, or playing with the YTV Touring Group, the Pineland Fiddlers, or the Maine Folque Co-op. Hear more at www.fiddlerokennedy.com


The Buffalo Mountain Bluegrass Band consists of the home schooled sister and brother duo, Autumn and Canyon Moore, from Central Pennsylvania. Autumn, 17, has been playing the fiddle for 12 years. Canyon, 16, started fiddle at age 4, and has played guitar (self-taught) for 6 years. Autumn and Canyon  have performed together since 2008, and they enjoy a variety of music styles including, but not limited to, Bluegrass, Gospel, Civil War, Patriotic, Country, Irish, Canadian, and Scottish. The tunes performed in the video above include Road to Columbus, Cooley’s Reel, and On & On. Autumn and Canyon are excited to share their love of music with others. To learn more about them, visit their website: www.buffalomountainbluegrass.com.


Ellie Freebern is a homeschooled 13 year old. She’s been playing harp for a year and fiddle for 2.  She comes from a musical family and loves playing any instrument that comes her way. Some of her other passions are aerial silks, swimming, and writing. She’s been diving into music even more lately due to the quarantine and hopes to share her work with the world.


Here is Ishika Niroula (10) from Essex Junction VT, singing a Nepali song about a girl who is trying to share her Nepali cultures with the help of music as they say music doesn’t have any language. In addition to singing, Ishika is also an outstanding dancer and tabla player from a very musical family. The tabala player in the video is Ishika’s uncle, Purushottam Niroula (25).


Ella Staats (19) has been writing songs for as long as she can remember. Inspired by a mix of indie, folk, and rock, she rotates between guitar and ukulele to craft heartfelt, personal, and occasionally mildly humorous compositions. You can find her on Instagram @ellafrancesharrison


Abi Sandy (19) is a choral singer by trade, but she has been surrounded by folk and traditional music her whole life, traveling to Ireland with the Way of the Bard Touring Group in 2017 and playing guitar with the Young Tradition Youth Commission in 2019. Looking to branch out from his classical/jazz background, pianist Sebastiaan West (18) began to explore traditional Celtic music with the YTV Touring Group in 2016, and has since dived into the VT trad community, picking up the piano accordion as well as the Québècois foot tapping style. Abi and Seb joined together in 2019 and began making music that drew from a wide variety of traditions, primarily Irish, Scottish, and Québécois, and have been working to refine a dynamic repertoire that ranged from plaintive Gaelic and French song to soulful marches and jigs to high-energy polkas and reels. Learning from local trad masters such as Jeremiah McLane, Moira Smiley, Nicholas Williams, and Pete Sutherland, their music strives to connect with the people they’re playing for as much as the people from whom the music originated. They recently returned from a gap-year trip where they busked and learned tunes in Edinburgh, Brittany, and the Netherlands, and are psyched to be a part of the 2020 YTV Contest!


The Everest Band formed in late 2018 when Pranawa Phuyal began playing music with Soyam Pokharel and Anuvab Thapalya. Adrian joined the band a few months later when he saw how much fun everyone was having! The band was coached by Shyam Nepali and Amy Beshara. The band performed at Young Tradition Vermont in 2019 and were the winners of the United Nepali Association Little Talent Contest, NYC in 2019! The band sent their prize money to kids in Nepal who couldn’t afford music lessons. More than winning contests, the band has fun making music together and is so proud to be learning their traditional music here in the USA. The Everest Band consist of Soyam Pkharel (12) on keyboard, Anubav Thapalya (13) on madal, Adrian Pradhan (13) on guitar, and Pranawa Phuyal (13) on sarangi.


Giri and Uma Peters (ages 15 and 12) are Indian-American siblings from Nashville, TN. These multi-instrumentalists (Giri on fiddle and guitar, and Uma on banjo and fiddle) have a style that falls somewhere at intersection of old-time music, bluegrass, and Piedmont Blues. They released their first album together, entitled Origins on May 31, 2019. Giri and Uma have performed at festivals around the country and love sharing their music with the world.


Brothers Luper with Simon Lace – Francisco based Celtic Trio: Simon Lace, banjo; Zane Luper, violin; Cullen Luper, guitar; playing the New Found Out Set – “New Found Out”, “Tommy Peoples”, “Firebird,” by Tomas Callister. We are a traditional Celtic music trio that met at Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp in 2011 and have played together at sessions and gatherings ever since. Brothers Luper is a dynamic traditional music duo from San Francisco. Zane Luper is 22 years old and has grown up playing the violin and traditional Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton music. Cullen Luper is 17 years old and a multi-instrumentalist with a focus on violin, piano, and guitar. His musical passions are Jazz, Jazz Manouche, Classical, Scandinavian and Celtic Traditional. The two brothers have performed in the USA, Japan, Spain, Scotland, Italy, and Ireland. Simon Lace is a 21 year old Northern California-based multi-instrumentalist, currently focusing on guitar and tenor banjo. He has experience in a wide variety of genres, including traditional Irish, jazz manouche, Afro-Cuban, choral, rock, metal, and more.

Benjamin Foss (20) is a musician and luthier based in Brooks, ME. Benjamin grew up in the contra dance scene in southern New England, and branched out to a variety of instruments after starting out on the fiddle. When he’s not digging up obscure old tunes from the New England and Maine fiddle traditions and bringing them back to the dance floor, Benjamin builds and restores guitars, banjos, and mandolins in midcoast Maine.


Although François-Félix Roy (20) was born in Missouri, he spent almost all his life in Quebec and developed a strong interest in Québécois/French-Canadian traditional music and other related styles. He is now studying traditional music full-time with Éric Beaudry at the Cégep de Joliette, deepening his knowledge of the guitar, the mandolin, the tenor banjo and the Irish bouzouki. Here he plays his arrangement of a traditional song (accompanied by the guitar and typical Québécois foot-tapping technique) where a young man tries to meet his loved one, but she finds excuses and ends up sending him away (see the description of the video for a more detailed summary).


Carling Berkhout (22) is a musician and writer based out of southern Vermont. She performs in neo-old time duo Carling & Will, folk trio Surplus Daughters, and indie rock band Foster Powell. Berkhout was recently a resident at Vermont Studio Center, where she worked on writing a novel.


The Pressley Girls were born and raised in Brasstown, North Carolina. They are an authentic Appalachian duet that focuses on tight harmony and lyrical meaning.The Pressley Girls perform a wide range of music including Folk, Bluegrass, Gospel, and Country. Admiring The Louvin Brothers, classic country singers, and traditional folk musicians, they hope to bring transcendent genuine music back to the world. Corie Pressley (23) plays the guitar and mandolin while singing harmony with her sister, Katie (23), who plays the fiddle while singing lead.


Nicholfalls is a band that combines traditional fiddle music with jazz music to create their own unique sound. The band is composed of fiddler Holland Goddard, pianist Simon Bullwinkel, and bodhran player Brooke Goddard. They have all been playing on their own for a while, and have recently in the new year come together to bring a new sound to the North Country. Holland Goddard, 16, has been playing fiddle for seven years, and enjoys playing many genres on her fiddle. Simon Bullwinkel, 16, has been playing piano seriously for four years, and enjoys playing jazz and rock styles on the piano, incorporating those styles into his sound. Brooke Goddard, 15, has been playing the bodhran for three years, and enjoys putting Irish and Scottish twists on traditional tunes.


Scottish Fish are a Boston based fiddle and cello group whose youthful enthusiasm, unique arrangements, and original compositions have entertained audiences throughout New England and beyond. Their performances of traditional and contemporary Scottish and Cape Breton music are woven together from years of fiddle camp and session music handed down from generations of the tradition’s finest players. Since their formation nearly a decade ago, they have released two albums and are currently reading the funds for their third, to be recorded this summer! The 5 person band showcases: Julia Homa, age 20; Caroline Dressler, age 20; Ava Montesi, age 19, Giulia Haible, age 19; and Maggie Macphail, age 15. Above is a video of us performing at our Christmas show this past December 2019.

The Carter Girls: the Carter Girls are from Aulac NB Canada, and they all play multiple instruments, and play for a variety of community events. This tune is called “Mount Whatley Reel” and was written by a local New Brunswick fiddler (our neighbor) Royal Hicks. Fiddle-Madeline Carter is 16 years old. Piano-Marlise Carter is 14 years old. Accordion-Maizie is 11 years old.

The Goddard Girls: Holland Goddard is a 16-year-old fiddle player from Nicholville, NY. She has been playing the fiddle for seven years and plans to continue her musical career by going into music education when she graduates. In addition to playing the fiddle, she also enjoys running, horseback riding, and skiing. Brooke Goddard is a 15-year-old bodhran player from Nicholville, NY. She has been playing the bodhran for three years, but started her musical journey on the piano at the age of nine. They have both performed at many venues along with their duo, the Goddard Girls, and their band, Nicholfalls, including the Hammond Scottish Festival, the Remington Arts Festival, the Potsdam Food Co-op, and various local nursing homes, farmer’s markets and talent shows, where they finished as the top musicians in New York at the NY State Fair Talent Show. They have also participated in the Young Tradition Vermont Touring Group for two years, touring in Scotland and Metropolitan New York and New Jersey, and have competed in the Young Tradition Vermont Contest, finalizing for three years.

2019 Contest Finalists

Winners of the 2019 Young Tradition VT Contest were Spintuition and Nora Rodes, who tied for first place; Beinn Mhór and The Two Tones tied for 3rd place. The other finalists, who were invited to perform at the festival were: The Burlingtones, Courtney and Cordell Drew, Owen Kennedy, The Kowal Family, and Ristika Gurung.

The entire contest finals, held on May 4th, 11am-3pm at Contois Auditorium in Burlington can be viewed at this link: http://lcatv.org/young-tradition-contest-finals-2019-05-04

2018 Contest Finalists

The 2018 contest finals, held during Kids Day at Waterfront Park in Burlington can be viewed at this link: http://lcatv.org/young-tradition-contest-2018-2018-05-05 . The video submission of Romy and Ben Munkres, the 2018 contest winners, can be viewed here Romy and Ben Munkres Contest Video 2018