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18 July 2020

Youth Commission 7/11/20 concert review by Ava White

7/11/20 Young Tradition Youth Commission

concert review written by Ava White

The 2019/2020 Young Tradition Youth Commission was awarded Romy Munkres last summer. She assembled Ben Munkres, Hadley Stockwell, Fern Tamagini-O’Donnell, and Abigail Sandy (some of whom may be recognizable as performers in previous Young Tradition concerts and the Touring Group) to form a group of young, talented musicians. The members were already well versed in musical styles common to Vermont, such as Irish, Cape Breton, and Quebecois, so they decided to explore less familiar styles with local artists. From Pete Sutherland they learned Old Time, Alex Kehler taught the group Swedish music, Jeremiah McLane introduced music from central France, and from Joanne Garton they learned of Scottish traditions. Their music aimed to connect different musical traditions. They are currently working with Colin McCaffrey on recording a CD as their end-of-year project this summer. Comments and questions about the Youth Commission project may be directed to

For their July 11th final concert, Abi and Sebastiaan begin with a recognizable tune called L’Aire Mignonne. Sebastiaan on accordion begins on melody, adding many of his own variations to the melody. Abi contributes beautiful chords and complementary rhythms. They use a truck stop to transition into a reel that is upbeat, and once again, includes many of Sebastiaan’s improvisations. In the middle of the tune, they become more restrained before increasing the energy once more. Their next tune sounds major at first, but Sebastiaan soon goes into a gritty, non-major melody with a stop ending. Their last song is something originally from the Irish tradition, but it is present in many musical traditions: The Parting Glass. Abi begins the tune with just her beautiful voice, and soon Sebastiaan joins in with a complementary harmony.

Mark then shares a video the Youth Commission made, so they could share their music as a whole. Their polska from Alex Kehler begins with fiddlers on melody, and later Abi joins in on guitar chords. Fern and Hadley drop out for Romy and Abi to play melody together, creating a marvelous contrast.

Hadley is joined by Maeve Fairfax, a member of the Young Tradition Touring Group for three years. Hadley begins with a low, fast, gritty tune that soon transitions to a higher-ranged tune with frequent syncopation. Her next set is a combination of two tunes she learned, one from Béatrix Méthé on a Young Tradition video call and the other from Pascal Gemme. The rhythm is pleasantly confusing and unpredictable at first for the tune of Béatrix Méthé, and the second tune is very groovy and upbeat. With Maeve on flute now, Hadley and Maeve play a waltz they learned for the Scotland trip called Maggie West. Maeve plays the tune one time through, then Hadley joins in for the second time on melody. I love the combination of flute and fiddle, and it works perfectly for this tune! The two soon diverge with fiddle on melody, and flute on accompaniment and harmony.

Fern begins her set with what sounds like a march. The beat is wonderfully steady throughout, and the tune feels very grounding. The next is a set of reels that have great balance of higher and lower notes, and Fern employs marvelous emphasis with her bow strokes. She transitions to another reel with a smile. She ends the reels by slowing down. Her last tune is a waltz that is artfully played. I wouldn’t doubt if some of the listeners were dancing along to that tune.

Romy implores everyone to give the performers an applause from home!

Romy and Ben’s first set is two slip jigs, one she learned from Athena Tergis and the other from Natalie MacMaster. The first slip jig is gritty with Ben on piano, and the second is also funky. Romy adds additional bow strokes for harmony while Ben on piano plays chords. Diving into Romy’s recently acquired love of Scandinavian music, a Swedish schottische. It begins light with the high notes, but the second part is lower and adds more depth. Ben introduces their next tune, a waltz. Ben begins on piano and Romy adds single bow strokes that soon evolve into melody. Simply beautiful! They finish with a set of two Scottish reels, the first titled Lust from a band called Rura, and the second Dot the Dragon’s Eye by Hanneke Cassel. They give a round of applause for Mark Sustic and Young Tradition Vermont for putting on this concert. Right from the start there is enthusiasm, with dynamic and rhythmic contrast provided from both piano and fiddle. A truck stop transitioned into Dot the Dragon’s Eye. Romy frequently adds complementary notes and bow strokes.

The concert finishes with one last video from the entire Youth Commission playing a French bourée. A swaying set, the players soon diverge and add harmony. The tune remains bouncy throughout, and the chords are of wonderful variety.

Thank you to all the performers: Abi and Sebastiaan, Hadley and Maeve, Fern, Romy and Ben. Thank you to Mark Sustic and Young Tradition Vermont for hosting this concert!

The full concert can be seen here on the Young Tradition YouTube channel: