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Caffe Lena receives a grant 

Caffe Lena recently received a grant to fund a "Little Folks" concert especially for the youngest listeners to enjoy with their families.

Caffè Lena is widely recognized as the oldest continuously operating coffeehouse in the United States. It presents more than 250 concerts each year in a setting that is homey and free of alcohol. Children are welcome at all performances, but at least once each season there is a "Little Folks" concert especially for  the youngest listeners to enjoy with their families. Participating musicians in this series are full-time, nationally touring artists with a wealth of experience in presenting to children.  They tell the story behind their songs, engage children as participants, and transmit to a new generation a love of live music.

With Skidmore's support we were able to bring a truly unique, free offering to 19 children and 38 adults. Alash, a celebrated three-man ensemble from Tuva, performed traditional music of the nomadic herdsman of their small federation in the Russian Republic. They play "cowboy music" and their galloping rhythms and sweet melodies crossed cultural boundaries to spark imaginations. Their famous singing style involves whistling overtones and growling, bass drones called throat singing. Very few people ever have the chance to hear this exciting, ancient music and the children in the audience, as well as their parents, were attentive and impressed  throughout the one-hour performance.  An English-speaking interpreter related the stories in the songs, and described the landscape and way of life that produced the traditional instruments and styles. All the men in the ensemble were parents very far from home who were delighted to play for a room full of children. The performance concluded with a sing-along for which the 57 people in the room did their delightful best to throat-sing with the Tuvans.

Because of the grant support we were able to offer this concert free of charge, which resulted in parents and grandparents taking a chance on bringing their little ones to something unusual. All stayed happily for the full performance and expressed delight and gratitude for the chance to sample music that was unique and beautiful. It was a positive cross-cultural experience in a relaxed, welcoming setting.

This concert was promoted on the Caffè Lena website, with posters on campus and throughout downtown, in paper schedules distributed by mail and at the venue, and in the Caffe's e-newsletter which is sent to 6,000 people weekly. It was previewed in Saratoga Today, announced on the Caffè Lena Facebook page (5,000+ Likes) and Twitter (1,200 followers), and in the outdoor showcase on Lena's building. The granting agent was credited throughout.

We anticipate continuing our Little Folks concert series with varied offerings throughout the year, as funding permits.