Special Projects and Memorable Experiences
Concert in Nelson, March 24, 2019
In June of 2018 Gordon was teaching at Maine Fiddle Camp where he met Bonnie Bewick a violinist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra who enjoys playing (and understands) fiddle music. Bonding over a single set of Scottish tunes performed for an evening concert at the camp, they decided to collaborate on a concert in Nelson. They were joined by Bonnie’s colleague Larry Wolfe, assistant principal bassist for the BSO, and a special guest appearance by singer Jazimina MacNeil.
In 2012 Gordon was asked to narrate a Monadnock Lyceum program honoring Bob McQuillen. His narrative surrounded the performance of music by Bob on piano, Jane Orzechowski, fiddle, and Deanna Stiles, flute and fiddle.
The last segment of the program featured the entrance of 40 musicians, ranging from 10 to 80 years old. This part was a surprise for Bob. Here is that segment.
For those wanting to watch the full hour-long program which has both music, and narrative about the history of New England contra dancing and about Bob:
Kerry Elkin had started out as a dance caller, but by the time Gordon met him, he had moved into fiddling, and was already in a league of his own. He and Gordon were among the musicians hired to play for the Green Mountain Volunteers, a dance performance group, for a 5 week trip throughout Europe during the summer of 1985.
By the time the trip ended, they had developed a musical affinity and decided to form the band Fresh Fish. They worked regularly with Steve Zakon (now Zakon-Anderson) who was also on that trip. Gordon and Kerry were always the core of the band, with a number of incredible musicians filling out the band over the next decade.
Kerry went on to become one of the most respected and brilliant dance fiddlers in the country. He died in 2000, way too young, and representing a great loss to the music and dance community.
In the fall of 1987 Gordon got a call from Paddy Moloney, leader of the Irish band, the Chieftains. Paddy had heard about the Nelson Town Hall, and wanted to come play there. This led to a remarkable series of events over several years that resulted in dancers from Nelson performing with the Chieftains at Symphony Hall in Boston and Avery Fisher Hall in New York. Read Gordon’s account this wonderful adventure, written 25 years after it occurred.
The Hotel Nelson
The Hotel Nelson was a musical play about the history of Nelson, New Hampshire. The text and original songs were contributed by many individuals. Gordon wrote the opening and closing scenes of the play, and composed three songs. This is the final scene and song.
This performance of the song features Jazimina MacNeil (accompanied by Gordon) at a concert at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, on July 10, 2018.
In 2010 Eric Stumacher, director of the Keene Chamber Orchestra, asked Gordon to compose a piece of music to be played by that orchestra and about 60 elementary, middle and high school string players (mostly violins). The challenge was to write something at was accessible to young musicians, but which also allowed for more complex components featuring members of the orchestra. And Eric wanted the theme to have a tie in to the contradance music which he had heard Gordon playing on many occasions. The performance was not recorded. What we have here is a synthesized arrangement of the score played from Sibelius (music composition software). It is therefore lacking in the audio quality that would be provided by a regular orchestra, but might be appreciated listened to with a grain of salt (and decent speakers.
The piece is called Joyful, and after an introduction it goes into 6/8 (jig) tempo. The second part is a waltz, and the third is in reel (4/4) tempo. These are the common musical forms for contra dances.
Listen to Joyful
The Shetland Folk Festival
In 1990 the New Hampshire Fiddlers Union was invited to participate in the 10th Annual Shetland Folk Festival. This was exciting for many reasons, but one in particular for Gordon: when he had first started listening to fiddle music, he had been inspired by an album called The Silver Bow, which featured the fiddling of Tom Anderson, Aly Bain, Trevor Hunter, Davie Tulloch, and the piano playing of Violet Tulloch. Violet’s playing was an early influence on Gordon, and he was thrilled at the prospect (which came to pass) of meeting her. Read more about the Shetland trip.
Trip to Nelson
Gordon first heard Perin Ellsworth-Heller play the fiddle at a slow jam, when Perin was perhaps 14. Though his playing bore the traits of a beginner, there was some other mystical element that came through: Gordon told him he’d like to play with him for a dance some time . About a year later Perin was hired to play for a Keene Family Dance at the library. Shortly after that he started coming to the Nelson Monday night dance. Then things really began to happen! (read more . . . )
Gordon has written several articles for magazines, as well as using his writing skills for other work that he has done. Topics range from Dancing Forever in the Nelson Town Hall, to a monthly newsletter for advertisers in the software development market.