Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert. Ralph Rinzler (1934-94), founding director of the Smithsonian Folklife
Festival, worked over the years with many gifted musicians and folk artists, doing fieldwork, issuing
recordings, and producing concerts. This concert series honors the work of Ralph and his colleagues in
conserving, and extending the audience for, traditional expressive culture.
This year's concert was curated by Peggy Seeger. Ralph first met Peggy at the Swarthmore College
Folk Festival in 1954 when he was a freshman at the college. Simultaneously, he heard Peggy's older
brother Pete in concert. Ralph was electrified by Pete's banjo playing and by his spirited editorializing.
But his imagination was truly captivated by Peggy and her older brother Mike, who played at informal
hootenannies. Here were peers, one year his junior and one year his senior, whose vocal and
instrumental artistry greatly impressed him. Peggy soon sent Ralph Pete's banjo manual, and he was
launched, learning songs and copying banjo styling from Harry Smith's recently released Anthology of
American Folk Music. In the ensuing years, Ralph and Peggy were frequent companions, and Ralph was
profoundly influenced by her, by the people he met through her - Peggy's father Charles Seeger, A.L.
(Bert) Lloyd, Ewan MacColl, Alan Lomax, and others - and by the British folk revival. Peggy's work as
a singer-songwriter was distinctively different from Ralph's work. Ralph never wrote a single song and
gravitated from the life of a professional musician towards one in which he built a wider intellectual base
for traditional music.
Piano Traditions, featuring gospel, Irish, blues, Latino, American traditional, and boogie piano styles. This
program was held in conjunction with the exhibition Piano 300, at the Smithsonian International Gallery, S.
Dillon Ripley Center, and was organized by the National Museum of American History.
Ear to the Ground: A Centenary Tribute to Malvina Reynolds. This concert celebrated the release of a new
Smithsonian Folkways recording, Ear to the Ground, which features studio and live performances from the
1960s and 1970s by Malvina Reynolds. Songs written by the late Malvina Reynolds, with lyrics reflecting
the social justice and environmental issues of her day, were performed by Rosalie Sorrels, Tom Paxton,
Bernice Johnson Reagan, and Peggy Seeger.
Woody Guthrie's Songs for Children. Ella Jenkins, Tom Paxton, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, and Magpie
joined together to perform Woody Guthrie's songs for children. This program was presented in conjunction
with the exhibition This Land Is Your Land: The Life and Legacy of Woody Guthrie, on view at the National
Museum of American History. The exhibition was organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling
Exhibition Service and the Woody Guthrie Archives in association with the Center for Folklife and Cultural
Faithful Fourth. This ail-day sacred music celebration provided a cross-cultural forum where Festival
visitors could listen to gospel and community-based song from Washington, D.C., alongside sacred song
from Tibetan culture and the Río Grande/Río Bravo Basin.
The Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert was curated by Peggy Seeger, with Kate Rinzler as Program
Coordinator. It was supported by The Recording Industries Music Performance Trust Funds.
Piano Traditions was supported by a grant from the Educational Outreach Fund, administered by the
Smithsonian Office of Education, and by the John Hammond Fund for the Performance of American
Music, with additional support from the Yamaha Corporation of America. Woody Guthrie's Songs for
Children was supported by the Folklore Society of Greater Washington and Smithsonian Folkways
Recordings. Faithful Fourth was supported by Hilton Hotels Corporation.