Weekender

String sisters to show skills and teach them in State College

Ari and Mia Friedman will perform Dec. 3 at the State College Friends School and the Center for Well Being in Lemont.
Ari and Mia Friedman will perform Dec. 3 at the State College Friends School and the Center for Well Being in Lemont. Photo provided

Boston sisters Ari and Mia Friedman will bring their vast collection of American music to Lemont’s Center for Well Being on Dec. 3 as part of the Acoustic Brew Concerts series. Earlier that day, they’ll interact with string players of all ages and levels during a workshop at the State College Friends School, and perform a family concert.

The duo’s sound builds off of a musical foundation that was first established almost a century ago.

“We are two sisters who grew up singing and playing music with our family,” said cellist Ari Friedman. “Right before I left home for college, where I was about to major as a classical cellist, I went to a fiddle camp and became hooked on traditional styles of fiddle music.”

It was this chance encounter at the camp where Ari Friedman’s interest in a different genre of music was initially sparked. Miles away from home, she kept in close contact with Mia, and the two sisters managed to orchestrate their own music and cover traditional songs.

“Mia had been playing Celtic fiddle music for years and, despite the distance, we began arranging instrumental fiddle tunes and old songs,” Ari Friedman said. “We got a few shows at Club Passim in Cambridge, Mass., and decided to begin a path of playing together.”

Having grown up together, the bond for Ari and Mia is firmly established and helped to further enhance their musicianship.

“As sisters, we have a unique connection that is engaging and delightful both for us and for our audience,” Ari Friedman said. “Because we are a duo, we create an intimate sound that draws the listener inside the music; we use layers of sound using our voices and instruments to create unexpected textures.”

Although often described as “traditional” and “Americana,” Ari and Mia pride themselves on not being defined by a single genre. Their influences are varied, and the progression of their work continues to evolve with each passing year.

“Our music is both quiet and reflective with simple melodies and, at times, complex arrangements,” Ari Friedman said. “We call ourselves ‘Americana,’ but we draw upon many different traditions. Our original music is influenced by the simplicity of old-time songs from Appalachia, yet we also use contemporary sounds, motives and sonic landscapes that come from early jazz to new classical music.

“We first started out focused mainly on Celtic fiddle tunes because that was our primary influence at the time. As we have continued to write and grow over the past decade, our sound has morphed into something more original, one that stems from the songs of American folk music, yet winds its way into something totally unique.”

In addition to their performance at the Center for Well Being, the sisters will host a string workshop and family concert earlier that afternoon at the State College Friends School. This event will provide the community with the chance to learn directly from the artists, something that carries over to their live performances as well.

“We like to engage with the audience between most of our songs, often sharing the background of a song or how it relates to something current in our lives,” Ari Friedman said. “It truly makes is special for everyone.”

IF YOU GO

  • What: Acoustic Brew Concerts series: Ari & Mia Friedman
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3
  • Where: Center for Well Being, 123 Mount Nittany Road, Lemont
  • Info: www.acousticbrew.org

IF YOU GO

  • What: Ari and Mia workshop and family concert
  • When: 1:30 p.m. Dec. 3 workshop; 3:30 p.m. Dec. 3 concert
  • Where: State College Friends School, 1900 University Drive, State College
  • Info: www.acousticbrew.org
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