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Windborne Quartet to play in Peterborough on Sunday

The Windborne Quartet -- Lauren Breunig, Jeremy Carter-Gordon, Will Thomas Rowan and Lynn Mahoney Rowan, from left, -- will give a vocal concert Sunday at the Peterborough Historical Society.
Courtesy Photo

The Windborne Quartet -- Lauren Breunig, Jeremy Carter-Gordon, Will Thomas Rowan and Lynn Mahoney Rowan, from left, -- will give a vocal concert Sunday at the Peterborough Historical Society. Courtesy Photo

Songs from Bulgaria, Corsica and the Republic of Georgia will mix with both traditional and contemporary North American folk music when the Windborne Quartet, a self-described “group of vocal chameleons,” performs Sunday in Bass Hall at the Peterborough Historical Society.

Windborne members Will Thomas Rowan, who grew up in Rindge and Hillsborough, his wife, Lynn Mahoney Rowan, and Lauren Breunig have sung together as the Windborne Trio for years. They first met as teens at the Village Harmony summer music program in Vermont and were also part of a group called Renewal Chorus, where they sang with Jeremy Carter-Gordon, the fourth member of their new quartet.

“Renewal was a group of people in their twenties who decided to take a college break and do a tour,” Will Rowan said in a recent phone interview. “We called around, formed a little chorus and ended up doing seven years of touring. That’s when we became fast friends with Jeremy. When we decided Renewal had run its course, we invited Jeremy to come along with us.”

Carter-Gordon recently returned from a year in Europe, where he’d been studying sword dancing on a Watson fellowship.

“We’re really excited to have Jeremy back,” Rowan said. “He’s going to teach us some Basque songs that we’ll be adding to our repertoire.”

Windborne specializes in close harmony singing. Rowan said they especially love performing music from Corsica, which is highly improvisational, and switching among drastically different styles of singing at their concerts.

They will also be singing a number of original compositions by Rowan, who now lives in Vermont but has strong connections to the Monadnock region.

“I grew up with folk music and dance, connected with the Nelson contra dancers and the Morris dancing community,” Rowan said. “I went to the Price Farm School in Antrim and the Well in Peterborough and my parents, Anne and Bill Thomas, live in Rindge.”

Rowan attended Laurence Academy and Marlboro College in Vermont. His future wife was also a Marlboro student.

“I majored in musical composition and ethnomusicology. Lynn majored in theater and music We have similar mixes of stuff we like to do,” Rowan said.

The third member of the Windborne Trio, Lauren Breunig, grew up in Brattleboro, Vt., and now works at a circus school in Arizona.

All four members of the new quartet have traveled extensively in the United States and around the world, giving concerts and leading workshops. For the last several years, they participated in Renewal’s annual winter tour.

“This year, Lynn, Lauren and I decided to do our own tour during that slot, and we invited Jeremy to join us,” Rowan said. “We’ll be doing eight days, mostly in Vermont, with a concert almost every night.”

He said while their focus is on a cappella singing, there will be some instrumental accompaniment.

“I’ll play the banjo on some songs, and some Georgian string instruments,” Rowan said.

The concert is part of the new Music in Bass Hall series, which started with three concerts last fall.

“Will called and said they had an open date and could they come perform,” said Music in Bass Hall organizer Gordon Peery.” “We said absolutely. Their music is pretty unusual stuff, the kind of thing audiences around here will appreciate. We’d be hard pressed to find another group doing anything like this.”

The concert will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students, seniors or Peterborough Historical Society members) and may be ordered online at www.peterboroughhistory.org or purchased at the door.

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