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December 08, 2016
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Two women, 12 instruments

The women of Simple Gifts play 12 instruments collectively and enjoy playing a wide variety of musical genres, from folk to Klezmer.
Contributed photo

Their upcoming Bethel Woods performance represents the culmination of their year-long artist residency in Sullivan County. Since September 2013, Simple Gifts has visited Sullivan County five times. During this period, they performed and led workshops at local schools, offered professional critiques to local musicians, explored musical traditions with local synagogues and Jewish community groups, and met with and taught student musicians. They also provided an intensive training to the Hurleyville Ukulele Orchestra, meeting with the group four times over the course of the year. The orchestra will join them at their April 27 performance.

Margaret Hughes is the director of educational initiatives at Bethel Woods. She said of their residency, “It’s been really great to bring music to the community for a whole year and we’re hoping that we can do more of this in the future. Bethel Woods is all about making the arts available and accessible to everyone.”

Littleton and Hirshon agree with her. “The outreach aspect of the Bethel arts center has been wonderful for us,” said Hirshon. “We were going into the different communities and meeting people and letting them know what a rich heritage they have in the area and a willing arts center to engage people. It’s time for people to start getting together again in groups and enjoying each other, and folk music and arts centers are one of the best ways to do that.”