Mission Statement: To provide compelling music for dancing, particularly English Country Dance, New England-style Contradance, and other dance forms.
"Your music makes me feel like ... like I want to get up and dance!"
Ishmael plays regularly for English Country Dance in Harvard Square and throughout New England, with Boston Delight, McMarIsh, Pardise Bird, and other bands, vintage dance with Commonwealth Vintage Dancers' Ad Hoc Waltz and Quadrille Band, and also for contradances, Colonial, and Civil War era dance for reenactors and celebrations, and waltz workshops.
He performs Early Music on stringed and wind instruments, and vocally with the Cantabile Renaissance Band, Ensemble 44, and the Boston West Gallery Quire, and played for the formerly monthly renaissance dance with "Renaissonics and Friends". He has substituted on violin with Seven Times Salt, and on five string fiddle and winds with the Woods Hole Village Band, The Rum Soaked Crooks, The Delight Consort, and Paradise Bird. As half of Anne and Ishmael he provides fiddle accompaniment to a singer of Scots ballads. He sometimes appears in concert with The Beans, on voice and instruments..
2022 October 27, Thursday, with Kendall Square Orchestra at 7:30pm, First Church Cambridge
2022 September 23, Friday, Paradise Bird at Harvard General Store
Performances with Ensemble 44
2022 September 30, Friday, 8pm at Lindsay Chapel, First Church in Cambridge
2022 October 01, Saturday, 8 pm at First Parish in Lincoln
2022 October 02, Sunday, 7:30 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem
2022 March 17, Saint Patrick's Day music at Harvard General Store with Paradise Bird
2022 March 31, violin with Kendall Square Orchestra at First Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts
2022 May 23, violin with Kendall Square Orchestra at Boston Symphony Hall
2019 performances with Ensemble 44 of music inspired by Saint Cecilia.
2019 November 10 — English Country Dance in Concord, New Hampshire
2019 November 29 — English Country Dance in Harvard Square
Spring 2020, Ensemble 44, Renaissance and Baroque era works about Jonah and the whale.
2020 March 14, Irish music for Saint Patrick's Day, General Store, Harvard, Massachusetts
2020 April 25-26, New England Folk Festival
2021 June -, Ensemble 44 virtual Boston Early Music Festival fringe concert
2021 December 10, English Country Dance, Harvard Square, with Jean Monroe
2022 February 11, Valentine's Day music at Harvard General Store with Paradise Bird
Video of quartet on recorders and voice. Polyphonic setting of Entre vous qui aymes, ca. 1530. Performed June 2018.
Listen to duet composed by Dider LeBlanc around the year 1580; Susanne un jour recorded multi-track by Ishmael playing viola and tenor recorder (July 2017).
As a tenor, he sings with Norumbega Harmony, the Boston West Gallery Quire, Neely Bruce's Festival Harmony
and other concert choirs, church choirs, and choruses throughout New England and Quebec.
Playing baroque violin with Ensemble 44 for a concert of Renaissance works inspired by the bible story of Susanna and the Elders. November 2017. Photograph by Ajda Snyder
Rehearsal, leading, and directing in performance regularly for singers, instrumental ensembles, dance bands, and mixed vocal / instrumental groups. As an instrumentalist and singer, performance experience includes bowed and plucked strings including violin, viola, and string bass, woodwinds including single and double reeds, brass instruments, and percussion. This familiarity with instrument technique, tuning and range is valuable for getting the most out of an ensemble, and guides arranging and orchestration.
"Your conducting was so good that you should go off and form a group of your own, in your choice of genre."
The Black Jokers have been known to dance in a variety of meteorological conditions not suitable for the wood or gut strings of a violin - such as a summer parade route over fresh blacktop pavement when it was 102F in the shade; drizzle, pouring rain, or snow; or in a howling wind well below freezing in January. In contrast, there are three hole pipes made of brass and plastics that are unaffected by heat, cold, or wet, and the tabor in the illustration above right ( a Remo PTS, with customization ) contains no natural ingredients.
See the Pipe & Tabor page for more details.
When I have not a fiddle handy, and the tune does not fit well on a three hole pipe (due to its one octave range) or the flageolet, (six-hole pipe, tin whistle, pennywhistle -- see the Chiff & Fipple pages for an introduction), I play recorder, either sopranino, soprano, or tenor. These tend to be quieter instruments which are marginal for street performance of Morris music, but work out well for Country Dancing (some tunes available) indoors.
After graduating from MIT and taking a real job I found it difficult to
maintain the 6+ hours per week plus travel time required for orchestra
rehearsals, so my social music participation languished until I was
introduced to fiddling, folk music of the British Isles, and dancing
(New England Squares and Contras plus English Country) in late 1976.
I began to fiddle for barn dances, as well as providing occasional
music for dances run by the
New England Folk Festival Association
Country Dance Society, Boston Centre.
That led to
Morris and life hasn't been the same since,
although these days I don't do quite enough dancing.
Depending on the style of dance and the other musicians in the band,
(or solo for small, intimate barn dances) I play mostly fiddle, but
use flageolet, recorder or mandolin for a change.
Listen to a morris dance tune played on fiddle.
Depending on the style of dance and the other musicians in the band, (or solo for small, intimate barn dances) I play mostly fiddle, but use flageolet, recorder or mandolin for a change.
I was impressed. You came in, sat down, and played the music. —Joshua Overby, 2022-08-20
Of late dabbling with multitrack recording, here published is a 2005 rendition of Thomas Morley's Good Morrow Fair Ladies of the May in MP3 with a link to the sheet music, and a 2005 version of Bruce Randall's four-part setting of Wordsworth's poem To My Sister. Getting back to it after a while, here is Didier LeBlanc's Susanne un Jour, played on viola and tenor recorder.
You can see this instrument a bit closer in a video of tunes on the wipLstix backpacking fiddle.
Thanks to the Violin Making & Restoration Program students at North Bennett Street School we were able to try out their new duet instrument, a violiola designed and built to celebrate the program's twentieth anniversary and their command of the craft. It has both violin and viola fingerboards on one body, with one bridge, for two people to play; best for a compatible pair, as arms and bows cross.
|Unusual pairing of five-string fiddle and serpent, playing duets with Laura Conrad at the Boston 2009 Walk for Hunger.|
|Recorder quartet performance 2018.|
"You played the happiest music we've had all day."-J. C. Jones, 2009.11.07
Worked out harmony/chords, assisted with music editing, and engraved music notation for "New Country Dances from Maine 1795" by Kate Van Winkle Keller and George A. Fogg.
While your leading style did not exhibit the wonderful flair
some of our friends have, you did a lot more than simply "keep time";
your direction was intelligible and sensitive and very helpful.
—R. D., 2009.03.27
Courses and Master Classes with Jacqueline Schwab, Kate Barnes, André Brunet, Eric Favreau, Rachel Aucoin, Sabin Jacques, and others.