Berkshire Summer Strings Staff 2017
Erika Ludwig - Director
"Ms. Ludwig" lives to uncover the treasures inherent in every student and to bring life to the notion, Love to Learn. She teaches private students at her Berkshire Strings Studio in North Egremont, MA, founded the Fiddling Femmes, group classes for women, and hosts the monthly meetings of the Berkshire Strings Jam Sessions. Erika also plays piano, recorder, mandolin and guitar, composes songs and performs on rare occasion. Berkshire Summer Strings is her way of celebrating the power of traditional music as a way of learning, creating community and freeing the inner musician in everyone.
Mia Friedman - violin and banjo
Mia is a virtuosic fiddler and singer. She graduated from New England Conservatory in 2012 where she studied with Anthony Coleman, Carla Kihlstedt, and Hankus Netsky, and is an active composer, performer, and educator. Mia is the lead teacher at an El Sistema inspired program, Kids 4 Harmony, in North Adams, MA. She also teaches group violin lessons in several Springfield public middle schools, has a private studio, and leads an adult fiddle class in Boston. Mia is largely influenced by American roots music and old-time Appalachian traditions, and blends this with contemporary experimental music in her compositions. Her song "Across the Water" won the 2011 John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the folk category, and she was the 2006 New Hampshire Highland Games Scottish Fiddle Champion. Mia tours throughout the US and abroad with her sister duo, Ari & Mia.
Aldo Lavaggi - violin and mandolin
Based in the Hudson Valley, Aldo is a full-time music teacher, composer and performer. He runs the Hawthorne Valley School children's fiddle group, two other adult fiddle groups in the region, and plays for contra and square-dances. Together with his group “The Russet Trio”, he started a thriving local dance in Chatham NY, now in its 9th year. In 2004, Aldo toured Europe as a solo street performer for 12 months immersing himself in the rich musical traditions of Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia. In 2012 and 2013, he taught fiddle at both Pinewoods and Northern Week music & dance camps. For the past 4 years he has collaborated with the Free Columbia Puppetry Troupe, composing and compiling music for puppet theatre. As a boy growing up in Woodstock NY, Aldo was fortunate to study fiddle for seven years with local great Jay Ungar, who remains a great influence in his life.
Ariel Friedman - cello and viola
Ariel Friedman is a multi-genre cellist, composer, and educator. A winner of ASTA’s Alternative Styles Award, she is steeped both in the music of American roots traditions and a broad range of classical repertoire. Ariel tours the U.S. and abroad with her sister as Ari & Mia, highly acclaimed as New England’s Americana sister act, and has performed with many other folk-based groups including Scottish National Fiddle champion Hanneke Cassel, the Sail Away Ladies, Childsplay, and Classical Tangent. An advocate of new music and a composer herself, she is the founding cellist of Cardamom Quartet and performs with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Ariel graduated from Northwestern University in 2008 and received a Masters of Music from New England Conservatory in 2011. In high demand as an educator, Ariel teaches at Brookline Music School and has her own private studio. She has taught at music camps and workshops from New England to New Zealand.
Eric Martin - violin and viola
Equally at home on violin (fiddle) and viola, Eric Martin is a traditional dance and folk musician with a background in classical music and music education. Eric enjoys the freedom and improvisation inherent in traditional music and has played for English country dances, contra dances, festivals, balls, and concerts with numerous groups including Bottom of the Bucket, The Flying Garbanzos, Coincidance, Common Thread, and Alchemy. Eric has been staff member at CDSS (Country Dance and Song Society) and FAC (Folk Arts Center New England) camps at Pinewoods and will be on staff at Ashokan northern week this summer teaching English Country Dance fiddling. Eric holds performance degrees from Ithaca College and the University of Limerick, Ireland and along with his family, lives and works at Gould Farm, a therapeutic farming community in the Berkshires.
Jordan Tice - guitar
Jordan Tice is a singular voice on the American roots music scene. Over the last ten years, he has developed a reputation as a unique and versatile guitarist and prolific composer of some of the most thoughtful and well-crafted tunes of his generation. He has released four solo records of original music to critical acclaim and has worked as a sideman to some of the biggest names in acoustic music such as Dave Rawlings, Tony Trischka, Mark Schatz, the Duhks, and actor/comedian Steve Martin. His current release, Horse County, features his singing and songwriting in addition to his established tune writing and guitar picking skills with a sound that calls to mind the music of Roger Miller, John Hartford, and Norman Blake. In addition to his solo work and work as a sideman he is also a part of the instrumental power trio, Haas Kowert Tice, with fiddler Brittany Haas and bassist Paul Kowert. They released their debut record in 2014 and will be releasing their follow up in 2017.
Bennett Konesni - singing and guitar and fiddle
Bennett Konesni is an internationally-touring traditional musician, performing with several bands including the Gawler Family Band with his wife, Edith Gawler, and teaching workshops to folks eager to learn from his vast library of worksongs for field and forest, which he uses regularly on their own farm in Belfast, Maine. Bennett was naturally drawn into the strong communities of old-time music, art, and farming during his formative years growing up in Maine. He has shipped as a deckhand aboard local schooners, spending five summers sailing Penobscot Bay, learning the traditional work songs of the tall ships as he raised sails and hauled anchors. While at Middlebury College he co-founded a student farm then spent six months studying Zulu farming songs in South Africa. He was awarded a Thomas J Watson fellowship to spend a postgraduate year in Tanzania, Ghana, Mongolia, Vietnam, Switzerland, and Holland studying worksongs of sea, field and steppe. Dabbling in visual art for most of his life as part of an artistic family, Bennett discovered papercutting in 2012 and soon after began exhibiting his works, which generally focus on the culture of food.