Westminster classes celebrate diversity Culture: A week of arts and music looks for the common threads of difference.

July 03, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Students can play the didgeridoo, learn the art of songwriting and build their own Native American flutes at the fourth annual Common Ground on the Hill next week.

While dabbling in the arts, they might learn about other cultures.

The weeklong celebration of music and the arts opens Sundayat Western Maryland College in Westminster, with courses and performances designed to build bridges between cultures.

"I'm looking forward to meeting with new people and reuniting with some of the musicians I've performed with in the past," said Peggy Seeger, a songwriter and instrumentalist who has taken part in nearly 100 recordings. She will teach songwriting at this year's festival.

Seeger, who lives in Asheville, N.C., is the sister of folk singer Pete Seeger and wrote the classic "Gonna Be an Engineer," the dTC theme of the North American women's movement.

This is the first year that Seeger will participate in Common Ground.

"We are delighted to have such a consummate artist join us," said Walt Michael, Common Ground founder and artistic director. He promises a quality learning experience with master musicians, artists and crafts people.

"There are many, many workshops and concerts that celebrate the arts," Michael said. "What sets us apart is our mission -- to find the commonalities among people of different races and celebrate them. So, although people are coming to learn the arts, they're taking the time to look inward and break down cultural barriers."

About 200 people have preregistered for Common Ground, nearly twice the number that participated in the event when it made its debut in 1995, Michael said.

The flagship course of the Common Ground curriculum, a dialogue on black-white race relations, has been expanded to include an examination of the life of Russell Means, who became a symbol of the American Indian movement. In the past, the dialogue focused on the work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, and the relationship between European Americans and African-Americans.

The week of music and art lessons will culminate with the American Music and Arts Festival, a two-day concert at Carroll County Farm Museum.

Michael is selling concert tickets and accepting registrations for the Common Ground courses. Information: 410-857-2771.

Pub Date: 7/03/98

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