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Music and poetry in the Finger Lakes at the Rochester Folk Art Guild

The Rochester Folk Art Guild’s third installment of the summer Lecture on the Lawn Series will take place at 2:00 pm on August 21 at their East Hill Farm, 1445 Upper Hill Road, Middlesex, NY 14507. This event will feature local musicians and poets performing their original work about nature and other aspects of living in the Finger Lakes. Musicians will share folk tunes as well as play with the poets, with poets reading and musicians improvising in response to the poetry, going back and forth throughout the poem. This event features four artists: Carol Mikoda, Paul Schliffer, Steph Unger, and Scott Williams.

Carol Mikoda (she/her) is the mother of two sons, a poet, musician, observer, and walker who writes from the eastern shore of Seneca Lake in Hector, New York. For almost four decades, she taught literacy skills with young people and then prepared new teachers to do the same. Her writing, which draws heavily on natural imagery from her surroundings in the Finger Lakes, has appeared in many literary journals and newspapers. Her chapbook, While You Wait, was published in 2021. 

(L to R) Paul Schliffer (flute player), Scott Williams (poet), and Steph Unger (poet) will read and perform their original work this Sunday at the Rochester Folk Art Guild.

Paul Schliffer has been a resident member of the Rochester Folk Art Guild since 1972 and has served as Director of the Farm Program, President of the Board, as well as his current position as Treasurer. He has worked on coordinating Guild projects, finances, fundraising, and grant writing for more than 30 years.

Musically, Paul began flute studies with Andrew Mikita, John Perras, and Eleanor Lawrence in New York City, and continued with Robert Willoughby at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He later worked intensively with the renowned flute virtuoso and teacher Marcel Moyse in West Brattleboro, VT.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

A founding member of the French/American group Ensemble Resonance, he can be heard on their recordings, which were the first to present the Gurdjieff/De Hartmann piano repertoire in instrumental arrangements. In 2007, as a result of a major grant from the New York State Music Fund, Mr. Schliffer produced two recordings: Latin Landscapes, featuring the original work and arrangements of Cuban/American composer Jose Lezcano, and Reflections, the result of a year-long project in free improvisation. Mr. Schliffer has attended the International Flute Festival in Quito, Ecuador and concertizes widely in North and South America with the Latin Landscapes Trio, which includes Jose Lezcano (guitar) and Matthew Shubin (bassoon). Locally, in the Finger Lakes and Upstate Regions, Schliffer has collaborated with Meg Heaton of Hobart & William Smith Colleges with regular recitals featuring a wide repertoire, including many original arrangements for flute and piano.

Scott Williams has been an Ornamental Iron Worker, a sculptor in lucite, a research mathematician, a writer, and a poet.

In 1971, he won the Central Pennsylvania new artist of the year. From 1972 to 1983 he was a blacksmith with the Folk Art Guild.

In mathematics, Dr. Williams was awarded the SUNY’s Excellence in Teaching award, named one of the top fifty American scientists, and has lectured on five different continents. After 41 years at University of Buffalo, he retired Professor Emeritus.

Carol Mikoda is a poet and musician from Hector, NY.

His first public poetry reading was in 1963, and his first poem was published in 1967. His poems and Flash Fiction have appeared in 14 different magazines and newspapers. He has six books of poetry. Williams co-hosts a monthly reading in Canandaigua.

Steph Unger is a writer who lives in Buffalo, NY. She has studied poetry at workshops led by Martha Heyneman and others at the Rochester Folk Art Guild in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

The lecture series continues with its final installment on September 11:

September 11 – The Local Landscape Then and Now: Glacial History, Early Forests, and Current Ecological Communities

with Dr. Bruce Gilman, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Conservation at Finger Lakes Community College

Dr. Gilman will discuss the glacial origin of the local landscape using a large poster map and acetate overlays, early forests of the area based on the 1790’s original land survey lot descriptions and witness trees, and ecological communities present today based on his field inventory work using the New York Natural Heritage Program sampling protocol. The audience is invited to bring questions.

Lectures take place rain or shine. We will meet inside if it rains. All lectures will last approximately one hour. There will be opportunities to interact, with questions welcome and participation invited. Wooden benches and folding chairs are provided; your favorite lawn chair is welcome. The Lecture on the Lawn series is free to the public, but donations are appreciated. At the conclusion of each lecture, attendees are invited to join the program director for a short walking tour and browse the beautiful crafts created onsite and by local artists, which are on display in the East Hill Gallery.

The Folk Art Guild is an intentional community and craft center located in the heart of the Finger Lakes in Middlesex, NY, with a mission to offer support and nourishment to all who are searching for a more conscious, creative, and responsible way of living. For over 50 years, Guild artisans have been producing fine crafts including pottery, woodworking, weaving, natural fiber clothing, and folk toys. Residents live on-site year-round, sharing meals and working together in an effort to live more sustainably. As a non-profit institution, the Guild offers education in traditional crafts through classes, residencies, and apprenticeships. The 350-acre farm is home to the East Hill Gallery, open May through October and displaying the work of Guild artists.