Konesni talks Worksongs

Mar 05, 2014
Photo by: Elsie Gawler Bennett Konesni leads a worksong workshop at North Branch Farm in Monroe.

Belfast — Bennett Konesni will give a presentation titled Worksongs: The Art of Playful Labor Tuesday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. at Belfast Free Library, 106 High St. The Tuesday Talk program is free and open to all; for more information, call the library at 338-3884, ext. 10.

Konesni will explore the how and why of worksongs past and present, sharing video footage he collected in Tanzania, Mongolia and Ghana that shows farmers, herders and fishermen using worksongs in modern contexts. He will compare these with how music has aided work in America past and present, teaching several songs that could be useful in the garden this spring. Finally, he will connect worksongs with other forms of art — including his papercuts, which are on display this month in the library — and explore how the ideas they raise could be useful even to those who are neither farmers nor fiddlers.

Konesni grew up in Appleton and on Islesboro, and was naturally drawn into the strong communities of old-time music and farming in Midcoast Maine. At Middlebury College, he co-founded the student farm and was awarded a Thomas J Watson fellowship to spend a postgraduate year in Africa, Asia and Europe studying music that transforms labor into something between work and play.

Konesni is co-founder of Sylvester Manor, a 243-acre educational farm on Shelter Island, N.Y., that preserves land that has been in his family since 1652. In addition to long-range strategic planning and outreach for the organization, his roles include teaching worksongs to the farm crew and directing the annual Plant & Sing fall festival. He is starting a homestead and farm of his own in Belfast with his wife Edith Gawler. Together they have an old-time band called Edith and Bennett, and they are regulars in the Gawler Sisters and Gawler Family bands. For more information, visit bennettkonesni.com.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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