A December 1 string concert featuring Mark O’Connor, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Bruce Molsky, Julie Lyonn Lieberman, Laraaji Venus, Brian Torff, the Norwalk Youth Symphony under the direction of Richard Brooks, and Donna Hebert with her group Mist Covered Mountains, will kick off a month of cross-country string concerts meant to shine love and light on Newtown throughout December.
The local concert will take place at 3 pm at Newtown Congregational Church, 14 West Street.
Tickets for “Strings For Newtown, a memorial concert” are by a suggested donation of $10 to $50 and are available through the Newtown Peace Park website (www.newtownpeacepark.com). Proceeds will be donated to HealingNewtown through the Arts, an arts-based local group that formed in the aftermath of 12/14.
Following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, violinist and author Julie Lyonn Lieberman of Newtown felt she had to do something positive when she saw a sign created by a fellow town resident: “There is no foot so tiny that it can’t leave an imprint on this world.”
Ms Lieberman has created six projects as a tribute to the families and first responders. Taken together, they focus on creating a culture of kindness. These are the Newtown Peace Park website; a Violin of Peace award project; the Newtown Peace Park Handbook with contributions by international authors and peacemakers; a Newtown Peace Park free downloadable video filled with inspirational quotes; a series of memorial concerts called Strings for Newtown scheduled nationwide throughout December by string directors in 19 states as far away as California; and a string orchestra score titled “Newtown Peace Anthem” dedicated by Ms Lyonn Lieberman to Newtown’s fallen angels and published by Alfred Music.
Visitors to the Newtown Peace Park website can access links to Newtown charities for the families and first responders, a free download of the handbook and video, and information about the other projects. Determined to overcome evil with good through kindness education, participants in these projects want to memorialize the Sandy Hook tragedy through positive activities.
Ms Lyonn Lieberman is a specialist in American and world string styles, creative musicianship, and ergonomic approaches to music making. The author of a number of internationally acclaimed instructional books and DVDs as well as a National Public Radio series, she is the Artistic Director for the national summer program Strings Without Boundaries.
Mark O’Connor is a multi-Grammy-winning American jazz, folk, classical violinist/composer and author. He perhaps is best known for his “Appalachia Waltz” and performing on Ken Burns’ The War.
Jay Ungar and Molly Mason are known from “A Prairie Home Companion” and film soundtracks including Legends of the Fall and Brother’s Keeper. They did the music for Ken Burns’s PBS documentary The Civil War, and their performance of the series’ signature tune, Jay’s haunting composition of “Ashokan Farewell,” earned the couple international acclaim. The soundtrack won a Grammy and “Ashokan Farewell” was nominated for an Emmy.
Bruce Molsky is “one of America’s premier fiddling talents” (Mother Jones) and a twice-Grammy-nominated artist. He is the first permanent visiting professor in Berklee College of Music’s American Roots Program.
Brian Torff is a renowned bassist, composer, author and educator. He is a Professor of Music and Music Program Director at Fairfield University.
Donna Hébert is a Franco-American fiddler, singer, composer and educator. Named a state Artist’s Fellow in the Folk Arts, with two original songs included on Smithsonian anthologies, she also has won eight appointments as a master-teacher through the National Endowment’s Master Apprenticeship Program.
Laraaji Venus Nadabrahmananda has performed in the United States and abroad since the late 1970s with his innovative style of electric open-tuned zither/harp. He is best known for his recording in Brian Eno’s “Ambient” series.
Norwalk Youth Symphony is dedicated to enriching the lives of young people within a musical community. Its mission is to provide the finest possible training, practice, and performance opportunities, enabling its students to learn, share, and enjoy the power of music.
The Violin of Peace will be designed and built by Paul Davies, who has created instruments for The Bob Dylan Band, The Dixie Chicks, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crowe, and Elvis Costello. This one-of-a-kind instrument will be custom designed with specialty woods.
It will debut at the “Strings For Newtown” concert, and will then travel to different towns. Students ages 10-21 are invited to create an idea for their community that will help build a culture of kindness, to take place in a local school, house of worship, shopping mall or any venue that reaches members of a community, according to the Newtown Peace Park website. When ideas are selected, the violin will be loaned out for up to one month. (For those who are interested in submitting an idea, full details are available on the website.)
Authors for The Newtown Peace Park Handbook include Robert Zucker, author of The Journey Through Grief and Loss: Helping Yourself and Your Child When Grief Is Shared; Robert Fritz, author of The Path of Least Resistance; Douglas Noll, peacemaker and author of Elusive Peace; Si Lewen, internationally acclaimed artist featured in the film Ritchie Boys and the author of The Parade; Azim Khamisa, international speaker and award-winning author of Azim’s Bardo: From Murder to Forgiveness; and Della Burford, author of Magical Earth Secrets.