The Ohio State University at Marion

Folk duet Simple Gifts return to campus

April 10, 2018
Folk duet Simple Gifts return to campus

Ohio State Marion’s Five Nights on Campus performing arts and entertainment series welcomes back the folk music duo Simple Gifts to Morrill Hall Auditorium, Thursday, April 12th at 7:30 p.m.

Simple Gifts draws on an impressive variety of ethnic folk styles, this award-winning duo plays everything from lively Irish jigs and down-home American reels to hard-driving Klezmer frailachs and haunting Gypsy melodies, spicing the mix with the distinctive rhythms of Balkan dance music, the lush sounds of Scandinavian twin fiddling, and original compositions written in a traditional style.

Combining tradition with innovation, Simple Gifts creates some of the finest arrangements in folk music today: swing fiddle creeps into a Romanian dance, spoons show up in an Irish reel, and a blues lick introduces a Klezmer melody. Based in the hills of central Pennsylvania, these women play an amazing array of instruments. Linda Littleton and Karen Hirshon switch with ease among fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, guitjo, recorders, bowed psaltery, hammered dulcimer, baritone fiddle, guitar, and percussion.

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, Littleton 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 lead her to study folk guitar. As a student at Grinnell College in Iowa, Hirshon 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, she 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, Hirshon has picked up baritone fiddle, mandolin, banjolin, banjo-guitar, and a variety of percussion instruments.

Individual Five Nights on Campus performances are priced at $10 general admission, $9 for seniors (60 and up), $4 for students (grades k-12, and college), and $8 for campus faculty and staff. Doors to Morrill Hall Auditorium open at 7 p.m. Tickets are general seating. For ticket or upcoming performance information contact Gary Iams at: (740) 725-6253 or e-mail:

The mission of Five Nights on Campus is to provide exceptional and diverse cultural and educational opportunities and to encourage the community to be a part of campus life. The popularity of the campus based entertainment series continues to engage the community and bring people to the campus.

As always, the series is made possible through the support of community minded businesses in our area. 2017-18 sponsors include: UniPrint, OhioHealth, Marion Industrial Center, Inc., Stifel, iHeart Media, Merrill Lynch, Marion Community Credit Union, Inc., The Marion Star, Wyandot Inc., Morral Companies L.L.C., Marion Technical College, Sims Brothers Recycling, Whirlpool Marion Operations.