Updated: Mar 19
EARLY MUSIC ACCESS PROJECT & HERITAGE FILM PROJECT
BLACK FIDDLERS of MONTICELLO
A Documentary Film by EDUARDO MONTES-BRADLEY
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA, JANUARY 5, 2021: Early Music Access Project and Heritage Film Project are pleased to announce the immediate commencement of production of Black Fiddlers of Monticello, an hour-long documentary directed by Eduardo Montes-Bradley and based on the research of David McCormick and Loren Ludwig. Major funding for this film has been provided by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.
Black Fiddlers of Monticello will be based on the research of violinist and Early Music Access Project Artistic Director David McCormick and music historian and musician Loren Ludwig as 2020 Fellows of the International Center for Jefferson Studies. Their findings indicate that Black fiddlers associated with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello mastered and ranged comfortably through—as no contemporaneous white musicians did—“high” classical and “low” folk music traditions for white, Black, and integrated audiences. Although neglected in standard histories of early American music, the stories of these Black fiddlers make possible a fresh understanding of how American musicians assimilated European and African traditions to create an American music.
Black Fiddlers of Monticello will feature the legacies of two families of fiddlers, related by marriage. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings had two fiddle-playing sons: Beverly played for dances at Monticello and Eston became a well-known bandleader in Ohio. Native American fiddler Jesse Scott married into the Hemings family and raised three fiddle-playing sons. The Scott family band was a fixture of downtown Charlottesville, played for Lafayette’s 1824 visit to Monticello, and was hired to play for balls throughout Virginia. Fiddling grandson Robert Scott, Jr. taught at the Jefferson School in Charlottesville, now the site of the African American Heritage Center.
EARLY MUSIC ACCESS PROJECT
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HERITAGE FILM PROJECT
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