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The following article appeared in the Nashville Tennessean, May 2000
Day gives dulcimers their due
It's easy to add an Appalachian flair to songs like Rocky Top, but to the structured works of Johann Sebastian Bach?
The members of The Nashville Dulcimer Quartet strummed, picked and bowed out a spirited Minuet in G onstage at yesterday's Grand Old Dulcimer Day at Two Rivers Mansion. It's probably their most reverent rendering of a classical piece. Another is Don't I Know This Possum?
"It actually came from a song I sang in high school, Dona Nobis Pacem," said quartet member Linda Sack of Nashville. "That's what happened to it when it moved south," added Natasha Deane, a Vanderbilt University cancer researcher and member of the 2-year-old quartet.
Dozens of performers and several hundred spectators sprawled on the lawn or lounged on park benches during the free festival sponsored by Nashville's Grand Old Dulcimer Club and Metro Parks.
David Blom, a Fairview instrument maker, was on hand to help anyone whose dulcimer needed a tuneup, and free lessons were given by teachers associated with Vanderbilt's Blair School of Music and Nashville Tech.
The quartet members met through their instructor, David Schnaufer, an assistant adjunct professor at Vanderbilt and a National Dulcimer Competition winner. Schnaufer emceed yesterday's performances.
"You'd hear his music and think, 'No way! That's a dulcimer?' " Sack said.
Dulcimers were born in Appalachia, crafted by pioneer Americans and commonly thought to be derived in the 1700s from a similar German instrument. Its name is a combination of Latin and Greek words, meaning "sweet sound."
That was one of the things that drew Sack to the instrument, which she picked up living in a small Ohio town. She is now community outreach coordinator for Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.
Quartet member Sandy Conatser fell in love with dulcimers 13 years ago.
"Mostly because I could play it," she said. "I thought I had no ear, and I went home the first day playing a song."
The Grand Old Dulcimer Club meets from 2 to 5 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month at Priest Lake Presbyterian Church, 2787 Smith Springs Road, Nashville. For more information call 832-1945 or visit http://grandolddulcimerclub.org.