The Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program (CCHAP) at the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) announces the participants in the 2020-2021 Southern New England Apprenticeship program for traditional arts. Now in its 23rd year, this program provides funding for mentor artists to intensively teach their expertise in a traditional art form to a student apprentice over 10 months.
Traditional arts reflect a community’s shared values, meaning, and artistic sensibilities. They can include cultural performances, crafts, and traditional trades, and are typically passed down within families, ethnic groups, tribes, religious groups, or workplace communities over generations. In Southern New England, many of these communities spread across borders between Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts; this apprenticeship program encourages such connections to strengthen regional and community ties.
Sustaining these cultural expressions is important work with and for communities, even in the era of COVID-19. For the 2020-2021 year of the Southern New England Apprenticeship Program, extra precautions and remote teaching options are encouraged to ensure participants’ safety.
This year’s program participants are:
Jason Roseman (Pawtucket, RI) will teach apprentice Jamara Codrington (Norton, MA) the art of Afro-Trinidadian steel pan drum playing. Roseman grew up learning how to make steel pan instruments from his father and playing with steel bands. He is both an accomplished instrument maker and instructor, as teaching the art form flows ensures the continuation of vibrant ensembles
Daniel Foster (Greenfield, MA) will teach Irish fiddle to apprentice Carol Colvin (Marlborough, CT). Foster is internationally recognized as a musician and within the Irish music community of New England has proven himself to be a valuable instructor. Both hope that the apprenticeship will help enrich Connecticut’s traditional Irish music community.
Debra Cowan (Shrewsbury, MA) will instruct apprentice Cate Clifford (Pawtucket, RI) in English ballads and story songs. Cowan is well known nationally and internationally for her mastery and interpretation of folk songs, with deep knowledge of historical and contemporary contexts that she shares in instruction and performance contexts.
Patrick Hutchinson (Providence, RI) will teach Uilleann pipes to apprentice Eva Meier (Montague, MA). Hutchinson is a respected musician and instructor in both formal settings as well as at local sessions in New England, and he has received international recognition through competition with the world’s top Irish musicians.
Adam Romo (Portland, CT) will instruct apprentice Antonio Alvarado (Wallingford, CT) in the art of Mariachi music, with particular focus on trumpet-playing and singing. Romo is a recognized instructor of Mariachi music within Connecticut, utilizing musical instruction to reconnect students to their cultural heritage and foster personal expression.
Walter D. Sweet (Enfield, CT) will continue teaching apprentice Michael Vidal (New Haven, CT) the craft of making wooden flutes. Sweet specializes in making six-key Irish flutes, as well as drumcorps fifes, pennywhistles, and tabor pipes, and is an active performer of his instruments at fife and drum musters and Irish sessions.
Mary King (Smithfield, RI) will continue teaching Celtic harp to apprentice Ellen Sheil (North Truro, MA). King has presented the music and culture of Ireland around New England for many years. Both hope that the apprenticeship will lead to opportunities to share the music where it could have a therapeutic effect, such as in hospice and nursing care settings.
The Southern New England Apprenticeship Program is managed in collaboration with the Folk Arts Program at the Mass Cultural Council and independent folklorist Winifred Lambrecht from Rhode Island. The Southern New England Apprenticeship Program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Learn more at https://chs.org/apprenticeship.