Holiday Party Featuring Women-Centered Fiddle Tunes

By Julie Mackaman

Come ring in the Winter Solstice and the flurry of winter holidays on December 9 at our AAUW Holiday Party, for the days will start getting longer shortly thereafter. This year’s social is a post-lunch gathering for desserts, supplied by hostesses. Music will be provided once again by Rosin the Beaux, a group that plays fiddle tunes and waltzes, many of which originated on the other side of the Atlantic and traveled to North America with waves of immigrants. In an hour-long program designed for our party, Rosin the Beaux will celebrate the women of the AAUW with a tapestry of favorite women-centered tunes.

Rosin the Beaux musicians

Hurricanes and ships aren’t the only ones that bear female names,” explains Deb Burns, the Beaux whistle player. “Hundreds of traditional fiddle tunes do, too. From waltzes like Amelia to reels like Zelda, from The Girl I Left Behind Me to You Married My Daughter Yet You Didn’t, from the 300-year-old Irish ode Planxty Fanny Powers to the traditional French dance La Valse des Jeunes Filles, the titles suggest stories and situations the tunes may or may not illuminate.

Women were, and remain today, vital to America’s still-growing repository of imported and homegrown fiddle tunes. Across centuries, women not only inspired songs and song titles, but they also picked up instruments as musicians, leaped to the floor as dancers, and taught their children songs and dances that would become part of their legacy. New at this year’s party, Beaux percussionist Melodee James will teach a few mix-and-match steps for those who want to get up and dance.

While 2023 has been a rough ride worldwide, we look forward to an afternoon with AAUW friends, holiday cheer, and music that reminds us that wars eventually end, that women so often play a role in peace, and that music — as playwright William Congreve told us back in 1697 — “hath charms to soothe the savage breast. To soften rocks, or bend the knotted oak.”

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