Rachel Panitch founded and directs Rhode Island Fiddle Project, a free music program based in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Pawtucket, RI, teaching traditional fiddle and dance music to students ages 7-17. In 2009, Rachel completed a two-year Urban Musical Fellowship at Community MusicWorks in Providence, RI, which inspired and incubated RI Fiddle Project. She initiated and continues to direct Community MusicWorks’ Summer Camps.
Rachel is an active contra dance fiddler who has recorded with a number of folk/roots bands including the Bourbon Boys, Tallahassee, Morris and the East Coast. She has collaborated recently with Bill Harley and with Neha Jiwrajka. Rachel’s fiddling was part of the Emmy-nominated soundtrack for the 2009 PBS documentary “The Mosque in Morgantown.”
A graduate of Vassar College, Rachel completed work in Anthropology and Music focusing on aural learning in folk music communities and the documentation of early American fiddle music. Rachel received her Masters of Music in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory in May 2013. She has studied with Carla Kihlstedt, Hankus Netsky, Nicholas Kitchen and Tanya Kalmanovitch.
While I have Classical music training, the kinds of music I find most powerful are those that are passed along by ear from person to person, and from generation to generation like great stories. The musical genres I play cover a wide range: from Classical North Indian raga to American fiddle tunes deriving from Acadian, Celtic, Cajun, New England, and Appalachian sources. I contribute to these repertoires with tunes and arrangements of my own. As you can hear in my work samples, I’ve written some pieces from scratch, but most of my compositions up until this point have been arrangements and reharmonizations of traditional music. One thing in common to each piece I perform and write is the use of improvisation. Some important questions to ask in order to create interesting improvisatory music are, “What do you want to hear?” and “What are you curious about?” I can’t think of a better place to explore these questions than in the vast and awe-inspiring environment of Zion National Park. Responding to changing surroundings would provide me with a great challenge to further develop my improvisation skills, and the public programs would be a great place to engage listeners on this topic.
Return to the Artist-in-Residence page
Last updated: February 24, 2015