Two women, twelve instruments

News Release Date: 

Simple Gifts brings to life folk music from across the globe through a multitude of string instruments

The Five Nights on Campus cultural and performing arts series is pleased to present the ethnic folk stylings of Simple Gifts, Thursday, April 12, 7:30 p.m., in Morrill Hall Auditorium at The Ohio State University at Marion, 1465 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Marion, OH. 

Karen Hirshon and Linda Littleton, who make up the talented duet, play a wide variety of music ranging from lively Irish jigs and down-home American reels to hard-driving Klezmer freilachs, haunting Gypsy melodies, and exotic Balkan dance tunes.  Throughout their performance, Simple Gifts puts their own distinctive stamp on traditional tunes, creating some of the finest arrangements in folk music today:  swing fiddle creeps into a Romanian dance and spoons show up in an Irish reel.  Simple Gifts exudes a love for their music through their enthusiasm, talent, and sense of humor they share with the audience.

Simple Gifts founding member Linda Littleton began her musical studies with classical violin lessons at age seven.  Over the years, she has studied with Joanne Zagst Feldman, Ray Montoni, and Geoffrey Michaels.  As a student at Princeton University, Littleton majored in philosophy, with a minor in music and a specialty of Philosophy of Music.  She has a strong background as a classical violinist, having served as principal second violin in the Nittany Valley Symphony.  In addition to violin, she plays hammered dulcimer, bowed psaltery, 5-string banjo, and recorders.

Karen Hirshon was raised in a family that emphasized church music, and she grew up singing and easily harmonizing hymns.  At age 10, she began violin lessons, and three years later, her fascination with blues and American folk music led her to study folk guitar.  As a student at Grinnell College in Iowa, Hirson designed her own specialty “Traditional Music in American Culture” within the field of American Studies, combining history, anthropology, and music.

She studied and was influenced by ragtime, classical, American string band music, African drumming, blues, gospel, and jazz. During the 1970’s, Hirson toured nationally with the bluegrass band Whetstone Run and helped found the American old-time group Rustical Quality String Band, with which she has released two albums.  Over the years, she has picked up baritone fiddle, mandolin, banjolin, banjo-guitar, and a variety of percussion instruments.
Ticket prices for Simple Gifts are $10 for general admission, $9 for seniors, and $4 for students.  There is no charge for children 5 years of age or younger.  Marion campus faculty and staff, which includes all Ohio State Marion and Marion Technical College personnel, are eligible for $8 discounted individual performance tickets.  Tickets are available in advance or at the door.  For advance tickets or for more information contact Gary Iams, Ohio State Marion Office of Community Relations at 740-725-6253, or email:

Five Nights on Campus is a performing arts series designed specifically for the residents of the seven-county regional service area of Ohio State Marion and is intended to complement the other entertainment opportunities which are available in the area.  The mission of Five Nights is to provide exceptional and diverse cultural and educational opportunities and to encourage the community to be a part of campus life.  The series, which began in autumn 1995, is in its seventeenth year.  This season offers an outstanding blend of talented national and international performers. 

Five Nights on Campus is made possible by local community-minded businesses and organizations such as:  Arcelor Mittal; Clear Channel Radio, Marion; Frontier Communications; Marion Technical College; Marion General Hospital; Morral Companies, L.L.C.; Sims Bros., Inc.; The Herald; The Marion Star; The Ohio State Bank; Whirlpool Corporation, Marion Division; and Wyandot, Inc.  Ohio State Marion wishes to recognize The Ohio State University Alumni Club of Marion County and the Buckeye Backers, our campus volunteer group, for their continued support of Five Nights on Campus and the arts.