Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, one of the most celebrated duos on the American acoustic music scene, bring their unique brand of fiddling and storytelling to Newburgh on Sept. 26. The concert, presented by Newburgh Chamber Music, begins at 3 p.m. at St. George’s Church, 105 Grand St.
The concert also marks a return to live performances for Newburgh Chamber Music after an 18-month shutdown due to the pandemic, said Carole Cowan, NCM’s director.
“Jay and Molly look forward to performing for our audience again,” Cowan said.
Audience members will be required to be vaccinated (except for medical exemptions) and wear a mask.
For Ungar and Mason, it has been quite a career odyssey. Jay grew up in the Bronx, played Greenwich Village coffeehouses, and went in search of traditional players in North Carolina and Tennessee. Molly was raised on the West Coast, played at college clubs and took a liking to traditional fiddle music and the jazzy sounds of the Swing era.
They met by chance in the early 1970s while each was performing at the Towne Crier in Beacon. Molly later went off to join the house band for Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” on PBS, and Jay formed a band called Fiddle Fever. When the band needed a bassist, Molly signed on.
Since joining forces, both artistically and romantically, (the two were married in 1991), the duo has built a canon of folk classics while performing in a wide spectrum of venues, and with many famous artists.
Jay’s “Ashokan Farewell,” the main theme for Ken Burns’s documentary “The Civil War,” has become a musical icon. It has been performed by a variety of artists and orchestras all over the world, and led to a series of other commissions.
Together and individually they have recorded a number of classic albums. In 2002, Jay and Molly produced, arranged and performed on “A Song of Home,” a collaborative recording for RCA, with flutist Sir James Galway, mandolinist Peter Ostroushko and bassist Steve Rust.
One of the duo’s best-known compositions is the title track of “The Lovers’ Waltz,” an album of romantic fiddle music from Appalachian, Scandinavian, Celtic, Klezmer and Swing traditions.
Jay and Molly run the Ashokan Center in Ulster County, a renowned destination for devotees of American music and dance traditions. The center offers environmental programs, in addition to fiddle and dance camps.
Tickets for the Sept. 26 concert are available at the door or online at www.newburghchambermusic.org. Adults: $25. Students: $5. St. George’s is handicapped accessible with parking across the street.
Audience members are invited to bring instruments that they wish to donate to Valentina’s Instrument Donation Bank, to be repaired, if necessary, and given to Greater Newburgh Schools and music students. For further information regarding this program, or to donate at another time, contact Dr. Joël Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org.