Courtesy of Chandler Center for the Arts
Photo One: Festival-goers take part in a contra dance under a tent during a prior New World Festival.
Photo Two: Seasoned musicians and those new to the festival will perform.
Sunday, Sept. 6 — RANDOLPH — Chandler’s New World Festival celebrates its 23rd year on Sunday, Sept. 6 with a mix of old favorites and new performers who are appearing at the festival for the first time. The annual traditional music and dance event on Randolph’s Main Street is family-friendly and a perfect way to spend Labor Day weekend.
The 11-hour festival celebrates the Celtic and French Canadian musical traditions brought to northern New England by English, Scottish, Irish, and French-Canadian immigrants. It has earned a reputation as one of the finest traditional music events in Vermont. More than 50 of the best regional and international musicians play concerts on five all-weather stages, participate in dance bands, and share tunes and traditions at this family-friendly festival. This year’s festival will feature some open sessions led by festival musicians with opportunities for the public to join in.
Once again, the New World Festival has been designated a Top Ten Fall Event by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and in recognition of its designation as a Top Ten Event more than ten times, it has achieved permanent status as a time-honored event for Vermont.
Regular festival-goers will be delighted with the return of Ten Strings and a Goat Skin, the dynamic trio of young musicians from Prince Edward Island that brought audiences to their feet last summer. Rooted in the traditional, the award-winning trio celebrates the music of the Irish and Francophone cultures they share. They infuse their original compositions and traditional standard tunes with modern and world rhythms and interpretations to create an infectious energy and unique sound. In addition to performances in Chandler and Bethany Church, they’ll bring the festival to a rousing close in the dance tent.
Canadian Maritime music is further represented by fiddlers Andrea Beaton and Troy MacGillivray. In addition to stellar fiddling, the musicians are both accomplished step dancers and piano players.
The Fretless makes a second appearance after their well-received debut at the 2012 New World Festival. This unique band is quickly gaining high acclaim around the world and taking string music to fascinating places as it transforms fiddle tunes and folk melodies into intricate, beautiful, high-energy arrangements.
Longtime favorites at the New World Festival, the Press Gang performs the instrumental dance music of Ireland on fiddle, accordion and guitar. They perform this year with Hanz Araki, “an Irish music phenomenon in West Coast America,” and Jackie O’Riley, one of the foremost traditional Irish dancers in New England. They intersperse their repertoire of Irish melodies with related tunes from Quebec, Scotland, and Appalachia, and some fine New England waltzes.
The New World Festival is noted for its celebration of French Canadian music. New to the festival this year is Mélisande. Drawing from a rich heritage of traditional French-language songs, the band adapts traditional music and presents them with a feminist perspective and a distinctly modern sound.
Boston-based Burning Bridget Cleary makes their festival debut this year. The band is noted for its combination of charisma, crackerjack fiddle work, and tightly woven harmonies, grounded in a driving rhythm and bass. Known for their captivating sound and engaging stage presence, Burning Bridget Cleary is currently one of the hottest young acts on the Celtic and folk music circuits.
Liz Simmons, Flynn Cohen, and Lissa Schneckenburger are no strangers to the New World Festival, and this year they appear as Low Lily. The trio are masterful players with deep relationships to traditional music styles ranging from bluegrass, to Irish, Scottish, New England, and Old Time Appalachian sounds. Stellar composition skills and inventive arrangements weave together to create music that is rooted yet contemporary. They’ll be joined by Hannah Sanders, a traditional English folk singer who hails from Norwich, England.
Pete Sutherland, Oliver Scanlon and Tristan Henderson comprise Pete’s Posse, a multigenerational band featuring twin fiddles in tight wild harmony over hi-powered guitar and pounding footwork with mandolin, clawhammer banjo, jawharp, rocking keyboards and vocals. Nils Fredland will call traditional dances.
Scottish music will be well represented with performance by Will Woodson, Eric McDonald and Dan Houghton, three of the finest young proponents of traditional Scottish music. Pub sings of traditional Irish, Americana, English and old-time music will take place in Chandler’s upper gallery. Roving performers add to the festive atmosphere. This year Mummers will join Midnight Caper and Cross the Border Morris dancers in spirited street performances. Mayfly is a Vermont based Americana duo that performs old-time, New England and Appalachian music, as well as original songwriting on guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and vocals. This year they will play for an old-time square dance.
Children aged 12 and under are free and an array of creative activities in the children’s tent make the festival family-friendly. Activities for children and families include an instrument petting zoo, a young musicians showcase, a dance called by Nils Fredland, and performances the Swing Peepers and The No Strings Marionette Company.
A variety of food and drink offerings that includes ethnic and vegetarian offerings from local organizations and caterers will satisfy diverse appetites. Area artisans will offer specialty foods and crafts for sale.
Discounted advance tickets are available by calling the Chandler Box Office at 802-728-6464 between 3 and 6 p.m. weekdays. Tickets are also available at the gate on the day of the festival. Reduced prices are offered after 6 p.m.
For more info, visit www.NewWorldFestival.com. All performance sites are wheelchair accessible and assisted listening devices are available for performances in Chandler Music Hall.