For the past eight years, JAMinc and the Richmond Folk Festival have partnered to bring internationally recognized folk musicians into Richmond schools to perform for students. This partnership has enabled over 23,000 students to be exposed to a diverse array of folk music rooted in cultural traditions from across the globe.
Tomorrow, JAMinc, a local nonprofit music education organization, will coordinate ten school performances by six of the festival musicians at Richmond area schools, including the Faison School for Autism and St. Andrew’s School.
Coordination involves a host of volunteers who donate their time and resources to organize transportation and sound equipment set-up to ensure an enjoyable and unique musical experience for the students and musicians, alike.
This year, select students will be treated to a performance by Tuvan throat-singers, Alash. Throat-singers learn to sing multiple harmonic notes with one voice, sometimes creating two and three separate tones.
“It is the most amazing, out of this worldly kind of sound that you’ve ever heard,” said Tim Timberlake, Richmond Folk Festival programming committee member and JAMinc chairman.
Students will also have a chance to experience music from polka and reggae groups, as well as traditional mountain music from Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevalt. Exposure to a variety of musical genres teaches students that the word “folk” can have multiple meanings across different cultures.
“Folk is the indigenous music from any culture. It’s the traditions that are passed down that stem from the roots of all of these different cultures all over the world,” explained Timberlake.
Promoting music education in the school systems is something that is very important to JAMinc and the Richmond Folk Festival, but music education goes well beyond the school walls for both organizations. It took some time to educate the people of Richmond about the diversity that underlies folk music, but attitudes are moving in the right direction.
“The complexion [of the festival]…beautifully reflects the demographic composition of Richmond. There is nothing that happens near here that approaches that success of being able to bring everybody together, to be that inclusive, have it all work and have everyone have a wonderful time and celebrate music together,” said Timberlake.
In addition to coordinating the school music events, JAMinc is sponsoring four local musical acts on the festival’s Genworth Financial Family Stage. Saturday’s sponsored acts consist of the kids group, Silly Bus, and VCU graduate Andrew Ali, who which will lead a harmonica workshop. JAMinc sponsor, TKL/Cedar Creek Case Shoppe, donated approximately 100 harmonicas to be passed out to the children who want to take part in the workshop.
On Sunday afternoon, JAMinc will present big band composer, Samson Trinh, who will conduct a ukulele workshop and play alongside a ukulele orchestra of young musicians. Sunday’s Family Stage festivities will come to a close with the high-energy stringband music of The Hot Seats Shortband.
It is the hope of JAMinc and Richmond Folk Festival organizers that young music lovers will walk away from these experiences inspired and enlightened.
“Generally, music just has that potential for just opening and unlocking doors. At their ages their minds are open, and they are receptive to hearing and learning new things. That’s definitely what this is all about–to let them hear some things and let them realize that there is more to the world and to music than what they are hearing on commercial radio,” said Timberlake.
The Richmond Folk Festival is a free event from October 11-13, 2013. Organizers anticipate that this weekend’s festivities will draw over 200,000 attendees to Richmond’s beautiful, historic downtown riverfront. Festival grounds include the American Civil War Center, Brown’s Island and Tredegar Street.
In addition to being held on a picturesque campus, the Richmond Folk Festival boasts a stellar line-up that spans the globe and a solid foundation of dedicated volunteers working behind the scenes to ensure a smooth and successful event.
“It’s a joint effort of a whole lot of people, the city, Venture Richmond, the National Council for the Traditional Arts and a huge bank of volunteers,” said Timberlake.
JAMinc hopes to continue their role in the Richmond Folk Festival well into the future. The collaboration has extended JAMinc’s mission of promoting music education and appreciation beyond their school and evening concert series, and established a bond that gets stronger with each passing year.
“I think the Richmond Folk Festival appreciates what we do and I think we, JAMinc, really enjoy being associated with such a quality event, such a successful event and such a jewel in Richmond’s crown. All of us are really proud of how this thing has played out, that it’s continuing and that most people will say it’s the coolest event in town, down there on the river in the RVA,” said Timberlake.