On Friday evening, April 24, quite a crowd filled Hosmer Hall to hear the bluegrass, folk, and traditional music of the Susquehanna String Band. The crowd was composed predominantly of community members and families, though some students were present. The Susquehanna String Band consists of three members, John Kirk, Dan Duggan, and Rick Bunting, who constantly switch instruments. Instruments on the stage included piano, guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, pennywhistle, and hammered dulcimer. This concert was the annual benefit concert for the Community Performance Series, and though admission was free, donations were encouraged. The Susquehanna String Band is no stranger to the North Country, and was greeted enthusiastically by the crowd.
The songs that the group played ranged from American folk songs to traditional music of the British Isles. During some of the more rousing songs, the group taught the audience lyrics ahead of time and encouraged everyone to sing along. Other songs were peaceful, lyric ballads. One of the slower songs was even prefaced by the recitation of a poem by William Butler Yeats. The set was sprinkled with funny and reminiscent anecdotes, ranging in subject from Helen Hosmer of the Crane School of Music to fishing trips.
Crane Students Amanda Hayden, Jackie Cypress, Sarah Bleichfeld, and Meghan Smart joined the String Band as a string quartet, performing a beautiful song called “Trillium Lane.” Hayden played fiddle on several more songs, and the quartet joined the group again later in the program for more playing along. Members of the audience, which included current Crane Students, alumni, and community members, were proud to see some of their own up on stage with such renowned musicians.
The event was very family friendly. It was at times fun, and at other times, poignant and touching. The last song before the encore, “Auld Lang Syne,” caused members of the audience to raise their voices together in song, and even shed a tear or two. Seeing a group such as the Susquehanna String Band perform is a truly unique experience, exposing people of all ages to traditional songs and instruments that they may never have heard or seen before. The audience was enthralled, and gave the group several standing ovations.