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Young Tradition Festival


    Young Tradition Festival is ON (line) in 2021! Young Tradition Festival is an annual event most often held on the first full weekend in May and the weekdays prior- a weeklong celebration of the multi-generational mentoring relationships in diverse traditional music and dance communities.  Young folks are the major focus, supported by teachers, mentors, friends and families.  Young folks use what inspires them, what they learn, and their ability to perform, to be inspired by and to inspire others.

    This year, the festival will focus on 3 events during the first weekend in May: 

    • Saturday, May 1st – the Mentor-Student Showcase, and the Young Tradition Contest Finals.
    • Sunday, May 2nd – a tribute concert focusing on the masters and apprentices involved with Vermont Folklife Center’s Apprenticeship Program.

    About the Apprenticeship Program: Established in 1991, the Vermont Folklife Center’s “Vermont Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program” (VTAAP) was created to support Vermont’s living cultural heritage. This program brings together master artists and apprentices dedicated to keeping traditional arts vital and relevant to the communities who practice them and beyond. In addition to supporting communities in retaining and invigorating their cultural identities, VTAAP focuses on assisting individual artists in achieving their goals.

    We accept submissions for the annual Young Tradition Contest until April 15th.  Send us a video (contest details below). Ten finalists will be selected and featured during the Festival n May 1st. Cash prizes are awarded to all finalists, and the top three finalists receive $250 (3rd), $500 (2nd) and $1,000 (1st). 

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


    2021 Young Tradition Contest Details

    For 2021, 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 (April 15th) 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 1st, 2021.  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 1st prizes will be announced as part of the Showcase Concert which starts at 6pm.


    2020 Contest Finalists

    Winners of the 2020 Young Tradition Contest (held entirely online due to the pandemic) were Andrew Caden (1st place), Abi Sandy and Sebastiaan West (2nd place), and Francois-Felix Roy (3rd place). The other finalists included Giri and Uma Peters, the Kowal Family Band, the Brothers Luper and Simon Lace, Owen Kennedy, the Carter Girls, Émilien and Luryane Durocher, and Benjamin Foss. A concert including performances from the winners and the previous year’s winners was broadcast live on the YTV Facebook page on May 2nd, 2020.

    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

  • 2021 Young Tradition Contest Submissions

    We are accepting contest submissions until April 15th! All submissions will be posted below. See the Young Tradition Festival tab for contest details.



    Carling Berkhout (23) 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.


    Maine-based indie duo, Oshima Brothers’ have been creating music together since childhood. Jaimie (23) and Sean (26) blend songs from the heart with blood harmonies to produce a “roots-based pop sound that is infectious.” (NPR) On stage, Sean and Jamie offer lush vocals, live looping, foot percussion, electric and acoustic guitars, vintage keyboard and bass – often all at once. When not recording or touring they find time to film and produce their own music videos, tie their own shoes and cook elaborate feasts.


    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. Corie (24) and Katie (also 24!) 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 plays the guitar and mandolin while singing harmony with her sister, Katie, who plays the fiddle while singing lead.


    Although François-Félix Roy (21) was born in Missouri, he spent almost all his life in Québec 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. On the video he plays his arrangement of a traditional song and a turlutte (mouth music) composed by him. The song is about a man chosen to be the best man at a wedding in another city, and tells all his misadventures and his attempts to save his reputation.


    Ella Staats has been writing and performing their own original songs for as long as they can remember. They are influenced by the traditional New England folk music they grew up singing, as well as indie and alternative genres, but their style is uniquely their own.


    Dexter (13) and Serena (11) Sernoskie: Dexter & Serena’s love of entertaining has brought them to many stages as musical performers over the years, including charity events, community celebrations, farmer’s markets and the popular production of a local theatre company.  Since the pandemic, they have only strived to build on their skills by picking up the flute, mandolin and music video editing, while continuing to grow their passions for the fiddle, piano and Ottawa Valley step dancing.  They have continued to entertain through “Isolation Videos” that they have released weekly since our first week of lockdown in March 2020.  While Dexter is also quite advanced in classical violin and piano studies, playing and performing traditional music brings great joy to the brother and sister duo while connecting them with their audiences both near and afar in a unique way.


    Our names are Hadley Stockwell (16) and Stella Ewald (16). We met in the Young Tradition Vermont Touring Group and have been jamming together ever since. Hadley has been fiddling for eight years, which led her to a deep passion for bluegrass music: Stella played classical music for seven years before adding traditional music into her repertoire three years ago. Both are extremely excited to continue to share music and are looking forward to a time when music can be shared in person!


    Esme (10) lives in Vermont where she plays music, loves the outdoors and obsesses about magic. She lives with her Mom, Dad, brother, sister, cat and dog. She enjoys mountain biking, skiing, and practicing tricks on the trampoline. She plays piano, guitar (electric and acoustic), ukulele and is learning the fiddle.


    The Carroll Sisters Trio (Nora Carroll, age 14; Emilie Carroll, age 16; Sammy Wetstien, age 17): We are a trio based out of Simsbury CT, and we met and began playing together in February 2020, right before the pandemic shut down our area. Since then, we have played in venues all over Connecticut, and we even launched our own driveway concert series during the summer where we raised over $2,000 for local food pantries. We love arranging sets and adding our own stylistic ideas, but we are deeply rooted in the Irish, Scottish, and Cape Breton traditions, as we are heavily influenced by musicians such as Alisdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, as well as our teachers: Jeanne Freeman, John Whelan, Katie McNally, and McKinley James. This specific set features three jigs we learned from Katie McNally this past summer and then created our own arrangement: Hannah of Elgin, Lady Elizabeth Cole’s, and Pattern Day.


    Holland Goddard is a 17-year-old fiddle player from Nicholville, NY. She has been playing the fiddle for eight years and is going to the Crane School of Music for music education in the fall. Brooke Goddard is a 16-year-old bodhran player from Nicholville, NY. She has been playing the bodhran for four years and is currently a student of the 2010 World Champion, Aimée Farrell Courney. Together they have 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.


    Anna Butcher (20) is a fiddle player from Stamford, Vermont. She grew up around folk music and developed a passion for it  from participating in various folk camps and programs like the YTV touring group. After a break from playing the violin while living in Colorado, she is excited to start playing music again and playing around with her new looper. This video features special guest, Lily, the cat who refused to get out of the chair.


    Owen Kennedy is a fifteen-year-old fiddler from Maine whose love of traditional music and enthusiasm for performing has charmed audiences from San Diego to the Shetland Islands and all over New England.  Kennedy has been playing the violin for eleven years, and performs solo as well as with the VT-based Young Tradition Touring Group; the Pineland Fiddlers; and the Maine Folque Co-op.  He is a student of Seán Heely and Ellen Gawler.  Whether capturing the jazzy bounce of a Maritime reel, mimicking the bagpipes in a Scottish march, or driving a good ol’ New England contradance tune, Kennedy’s powerful playing, clean articulation, and artistic ornamentation are a delight.


    I am Winslow Solomon and am 13 years old. I live in Richmond, Vermont, and play banjo and violin/fiddle. I enjoy playing traditional music as well as classical, and have played violin for over 7 years, and banjo for around 5 years now. I’ve taken lessons on banjo from Sarah Hotchkiss, Pete Sutherland, and Brad Kolodner. Besides playing music I also enjoy spending time with my dogs, Walter and Joey, and creating art.
    You will hear some fuzzy sounding noise in my video, that is not static, it is actually the waterfall across the street which is quite loud at this time of the year.

    The Carter Girls, Madeline (17), Marlise (16) and Maizie (12), are three sisters who play a variety of instruments, (fiddle, guitar, piano, accordion) and genres including, Celtic, Country, and Folk. They are from New Brunswick, Canada but, perform for local events and fundraisers around the Maritimes. Along with playing Celtic and old-time fiddle tunes, they also compose their own music. Their debut album “Crossing Borders” was released in July of 2020 and features 7 original compositions. This arrangement includes two original tunes, Maizie’s Snapper and  April Winds.


    We are Elena Lieto, Nadou Louis, Miranda Colacchio, Julianna Sundberg, and Hannah Tufano –  part of the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers, and our ages range from 13 to 16. Our members reside in both Dutchess and Ulster Counties, NY and we come together to make music once a week. We are very excited to be a part of this event.

    Benjamin Foss (21) is a musician and luthier based in Brooks, Maine. Benjamin grew up in southern New England attending and playing for contra dances and building fiddles and banjos out of everything he could find. Benjamin plays in several contra dance combinations on fiddle, guitar, tenor banjo, and occasionally other stringed instruments and on rare occasions can be found calling dances. When he’s not playing, he’s building and restoring guitars, banjos and mandolins in Brooks. Some of Benjamin’s other pursuits include restoring player pianos and reed organs, stacking firewood, and finding forgotten fiddle tunes and dances to bring back into circulation.

    My name is Avery Ryan, I live in East Montpelier, Vermont and I am 13 years old. I have been playing fiddle for almost 9 years and have recently started playing mandolin.  I enjoy many outdoor activities such as skiing and mountain biking.  I am so excited to be sharing my music for this contest! In this past year, I have learned how to use looping to create more complicated tunes. In this video I am playing an original tune that I wrote over the winter called “Gathering Light.”

    Our names are Maeve Fairfax (17) and Ben Munkres (17). Maeve has been playing flute for five years, and also plays the fiddle and sings. Ben plays piano and picked up the accordion about a year ago, in addition to playing french horn and mandolin. We have played together in the past as part of the Touring Group and the Youth Commission, but this is our first time playing as a duo!

    Abi Sandy (20) began her musical journey in choir, 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 2019-2020. She is interested in folk music from all over the world, with a particular focus in Irish, Scottish, Québecois, and Cape Breton traditions. She is currently studying jazz guitar with Steven Kirby and traditional Irish guitar with Dan Faiella. Though originally from Vermont, Abi is currently a student at Wellesley College, where she is majoring in Linguistics and Jazz & World Music. She’s tremendously happy that the Young Tradition Festival is able to continue online this year, but she’s looking forward to when the contest will be able to happen in person again!

    Nora Brown is a 15 year old musician, based in Brooklyn NY. She has been playing the banjo since she was ten, and has studied with numerous masters of the banjo including Lee Sexton of Line Fork, KY, George Gibson of Knott County, KY, Alice Gerrard of Durham, NC, John Cohen of NYC and Mac Traynham of Floyd, VA. In October 2019 Jalopy Records released Nora’s first album of 11 traditional songs and tunes called Cinnamon Tree which was produced by Alice.

    All young Seattle teens, Hank, Henry, and Diego, created their band The Geoducks to spend time together and share their love of music.  Soon this trio, wielding their clarinet, fiddle and mandolin, discovered busking and a joy in reaching their audience. Now, whether in ferry lines, at farmers’ markets, or out on the lawns each year at music festivals, The Geoducks deliver a lively set of both traditional and original tunes drawing a crowd where every passerby gets pulled in hollering for more.  The Geoducks are: Hank Sebring (13) on fiddle, Diego Sotelo (14) on clarinet, and Henry Wine (13) on piano and mandolin. Their submission is Småland Tradition, a Swedish traditional tune (also known by different names), which was introduced to The Geoducks by Sami Braman from the band The Onlies.

    We are Darren Wang (16), Natalie O’Hearn (16), Julia Leonetti (15), and Olivia Lieto (15), four high schoolers from the Hudson Valley in New York. All four of us have been fiddling with the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers for a couple of years, but we are mostly classically trained. We had so much fun putting this arrangement together, thank you for the opportunity!

    Fern Tamagini-O’Donnell. Bio/description coming soon!

    We are Valeria Gracian (15), Parker Hobel-Furrer (15), Meredith Sundberg (11), Emma Lee (10), and Annaleise Booth (15). We have all been classically trained musicians and have learned through different schools throughout Dutchess County and even Connecticut. We all meet once a week in the town of LaGrange. We all have a passion for music and are very excited to be a part of this event!


    Hi! My name is Morgan Moss, I am 16 years old and a high school sophomore. I have been playing cello for 7 years, and about a year ago I made the jump from classical music to fiddle music. In addition to music, I’m interested in agricultural science, and I am a member of FFA. I live in CT with my family and my pet rabbit Patches.


    My name is Emerson Jenisch, age 17. I am a senior in high school from Strafford VT and am attending Wesleyan University in the fall. I have been playing instruments since I was five, and took a special interest in the hammered dulcimer, which I have been studying for eight years. My teacher throughout this time, Samantha Moffat of Vershire VT, has helped me to develop a strong foundation in traditional music. In the last year, I have also begun studying with Joshua Messick, former National Hammered Dulcimer Champion, by Zoom. I am passionate about composing music that combines my love for traditional music with contemporary hammered dulcimer techniques and various musical influences.


    Lauryane Durochers (14) is a dancer of the group Les Chamaniers from Quebec since 7 years now. Émilien Durochers (18) is playing violin since the age of six. He has taken violin classes to learn classical music but plays trad music in his free time. Lauryane and Émilien are brother and sister. They play a lot together, they like it.


    The Buffalo Mountain Bluegrass Band consists of the home schooled sister and brother duo, Autumn and Canyon Moore, from Central Pennsylvania. Autumn, 18, has been playing the fiddle for 13 years. Canyon, 17, started fiddle at age 4, and has played guitar for 7 years. Autumn and Canyon have performed together since 2008, and they enjoy a variety of music styles. The tunes performed in the video above include Tallahassee, Dixie Hoedown, & Wheel Hoss. Autumn and Canyon are excited to share their love of music with others!


    Meredith Sundberg, age 11, has been playing the violin for 7 years. She is a classically trained violinist and enjoys playing both classical and fiddle style music. You can also find her playing many other instruments including ukulele, electric guitar, piano, banjo and mandolin. She regularly performs with Stringendo’s orchestra program and the Strawberry Hill Fiddlers of the Hudson Valley, NY.


    Julianna Sundberg, age 16, has been playing the violin for 8 years. She is a classically trained violinist, and enjoys playing both classical and fiddle style music. In addition to the fiddle, you can also find her playing the guitar, ukulele, piano, banjo, and mandolin. She regularly performs with Stringendo’s Vivace Orchestra and Strawberry Hill Fiddle group, both located in the Hudson Valley, NY. She is accompanied here by here sister, Meredith Sundberg.


    I am Millie Shadgett (aka Irish Millie) and this is my friend Alanna Jenish. We are both from Peterborough Ontario, Canada.  Alanna is 26 years old and I am 14 years old. We are excited to share with you this tune that we recently co-wrote. It’s called Peanut Butter & Jam because we feel like this piece comes together just as well!  Alanna and I met at a country fair nearly two years ago, and have been playing together ever since. We hope you enjoy!

    Cullen Luper (18) is a musician whose interests range from Bach to Basie, Gow to Gershwin, and Corelli to Collier. Cullen has studied classical violin, traditional Celtic fiddle, classical and traditional piano, and guitar accompaniment from an early age. He grew up in the vibrant Bay Area Scottish and Irish traditional music scene, playing with The San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers, Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas, Altan, Athena Tergis, and The Hot Club Of San Francisco. While “sheltering in place” in 2020, Cullen performed for online festivals and fundraisers, and organized virtual events, distanced collaborations, and his own solo show on Facebook.

  • Young Tradition Festival 2021 is sponsored by:















    The Turrell Fund

    The Nelson Family Foundation

    Judith Allen

    Selma Zjakic

    The Chandler Center for the Arts