Michael Wright’s latest article ‘The Jew’s Harp in Colonial America’ has just been published in the Galpin Society Journal, March 2011, LXIV. During the 50 years from 1732 until the foundation of the United States of America, one tiny musical instrument found its way into every aspect of Colonial American life. It was regularly advertised by ironmongers in the new city presses and was even traded with Native Americans for furs. This is the second peer-reviewed article by Michael on this almost miss-able musical instrument that was imported from England and spread throughout the American Continent. For more information contact Michael (see Contacts Page).
Michael and John Wright have been invited to the 7th International Jew’s Harp Congress “Khomus in the cultural dimensions of the world” in Namskiy, Khangalasskiy Ulus, Republic of Sakha-Yakutia. The khomus (as the Jew’s harp is known in the region) is one of their national musical instruments, hence the event being supported by their government and opened by the President. At the moment John and I will be representing the British and Irish (and French) musical traditions, with other participants invited from Austria, Sicily, Germany, Norway, Hungary the USA, Japan… the list gets longer daily, joining the regional players.
Inspired by their musical collaborations during the last two years, Michael Wright and Dogan Mehmet have been joined by Matt Quinn with a view to recording Michael’s first CD. The project is at it’s early stages and the objective is to show the variety of sounds and the musicality of Jew’s harp. More news as the project develops.
After two years of preparation ‘The Jew’s Harp Trade in Colonial America’ by Michael Wright has been given a date of publication in the Galpin Society Journal. Using previously unpublished material, Michael looks at the evidence of European Jew’s harps in the fur trade as barter goods and the spread of the instrument throughout the Eastern Colonies through newspaper adverts from 1733 to 1783.
In recognition of the project for L’Ile d’Aix during 2010, Michael Wright was awarded the BNRA Chairman’s Award at the annual dinner held in November 2010. “I was truly astonished,” Michael remarked, “and feel this is a recognition of the teamwork that was essential in bringing the various elements of history and music that were integral to project.”
In January Michael Wright was asked to support an art exhibition proposed for L’Ile d’Aix off the western coast of France by creating in conjunction with the Britannia Naval Research Association (BNRA), a heritage trail on the islands historical links with the era of the 1st Empire. This culminated in a concert with French performers Catherine Perrier and Claude Ribouillault in the garden of the Governor’s House where Napoleon spent his last three days on French soil.
In 2009 and 2010 Whitby Folk Week invited The Wright Family to perform and give workshops at the week-long festival. Performing in concerts gave the family their first opportunity to show the variety of music that until now has only been part of their family gatherings. This led to a number of bookings at other venues – though given the geographic spread of the family, they are relative few. Lucy, David and Michael at the Magpie’s Nest (Folk Club of the Year 2010) can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNd_Py43LmQ&feature=sub.