This year the Flanders Award for Traditional Vermont Music has been awarded to two musician/scholars: North Bennington, VT native, Matthew Christian and Nora Rodes, a student at the Putney School.
Originally from North Bennington, Vermont, Matthew Christian studied Baroque violin with Kevin Bushee and highland bagpipes with Donald Lindsay, while sitting in on fiddle masterclasses with Natalie MacMaster, Patrick Ourceau, Alasdair Fraser, Pete Sutherland, and many more.
Matthew first found musical work by bringing the rhythmic drive of contra-dance fiddle to North Bennington’s Main Street, then the New York City subway.
Having set sail on the seas of full-time musicianship in 2017, Matthew has become a force in regional Irish, Scottish, and contra music. Classically, he plays regularly for English Country Dancing, and teaches the next generation of self-directed learners the deep connections between formal technique, classical repertoire, biomechanics, and traditional music.
Eleanor (Nora) Rodes is a Junior attending The Putney School. Nora began learning folk music when she was ten, attended the Augusta Festival, and began visiting the American Folklife Center the next year. Since then, Nora has pursued her interest in folk music at the Folk Society of Greater Washington (FSGW) Getaways, TradMad, Swannanoa, and Youth Traditional Song weekends, as well as other programs. Nora’s first major project was a paper on New England ballads and Helen Hartness Flanders. She presented on Mrs. Flanders at a University of Sussex symposium in June 2018 and hopes to continue learning about women collectors. Nora combines her love of folk scholarship with her love of folk music by studying voice, ballads, and claw hammer banjo. She has performed for the FSGW concert series and its Winter Fest, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, the Pittsburgh Crankie Fest, a house concert of ballads from Mrs. Flanders’ collection, and other folk music events. She is very excited to learn more about Vermont ballads and folk music, and grateful to have the generous support of the Vermont Folklife Center Flanders Award for Traditional Vermont Music!
The Flanders Award for Traditional Vermont Music is supported by the Flanders Fund at the Vermont Folklife Center. The award provides a stipend to a Vermont musician aged 15-29 to support the perpetuation and performance of the traditional Yankee and Franco-American musical repertoire of the state.
Award funds offset the cost of travel to one or more Vermont archival repositories so the recipient can work in person with collections of field recordings, manuscripts and rare books of vocal song or instrumental music rooted in the cultural heritage of the state.