June 20, 2012

What will you do on your summer vacation? Swananoa

Swananoa is an event that I have never gotten to - but I am looking forward to the time that I do make the trip.  However, I have heard such great things about it that I invited Mike Conners to write the blog post this week and tell us all about it.  Hopefully he will inspire you to give it a go!

Mike learned a great deal
 from Willaim Jackson
My annual summer North Carolina harp tradition is the Grandfather Mountain Highland games near Boone (this year July 12-15) followed by the Swannanoa Gathering near Asheville (July 15-21). I have been told that Grandfather is the largest Scottish highland gathering in the world. This year’s harp leader/judge is Jo Morrison with the workshop on Friday and the contest on Saturday. http://www.gmhg.org/.
Immediately following Grandfather comes Celtic Week at the Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College. It is total immersion with some of the most noted vocalists and instrumentalists in the world. I study harp there annually with William Jackson and Grainne Hambly. Although one can register for up to four classes a day, I opt for two so I can have time to practice while I am there.  I prefer that to being overloaded with new material on the spot that I might not to get to learn when I get home. In addition to harp I have in past years enjoyed daily bodhran classes, “pennywhistle for the complete beginner” and Robin Bullock’s bouzouki class. This year I’ll take a DADGAD guitar class. Swannanoa Celtic week is the place for fiddle, flute and tin whistle, harp, fretted instruments, reeds, song and folklore, percussion, and dance. The staff/performers are friendly and accessible.
Grainne Hambly gives
a fantastic workshop

There are a variety of afternoon “potluck” classes, afternoon slow sessions directed by the guest artists, evening concerts, and literally dozens of sessions happening simultaneously outdoors all night long across campus with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop; complete with a snack cart, wine and local craft brew beer truck, vendors hall and hundreds of great Celtic musicians to listen to and jam with. Continuing education credits are offered for teachers, the food is great, and the instruction outstanding. Can you tell I’m excited about the upcoming Swannanoa Gathering? Here is a link to a PDF of the Celtic Week catalog. http://www.swangathering.com/catalog/cl/celtic-week.html

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