More than 40 people gathered at the University of Southern Maine's Lewiston-Auburn College on May 19 for a song workshop led by French Canadian folk artists Benoit and Antoine Bourque.
The father and son team were in Lewiston for a three-day community residency in which they engaged with residents ranging in age from five to over 100. Among the six public events they presented was this session, sponsored by the USM LAC's Franco-American Collection, in which participants learned a selection of traditional songs from Quebec, many of which have their roots in France.
After the workshop, the visiting musicians lingered to chat with attendee Antoinette Gagne, age 102, who had brought with her the handwritten songbook she created when she was a young teenager living in Rumford not long after she emigrated to Maine from St. Damien, Quebec. Benoit remarked on the value of such an artifact and requested a photocopy of the songbook to take home with him. Another copy is being added to the FAC archives.
Benoit Bourque is an internationally renowned musician and dancer who currently performs as a member of the distinguished Quebecois band La Bottine Souriante, a multi-time winner of the Juno Award, Canada's version of the Emmy. His son Antoine, age 22, is currently pursuing his bachelors degree in music at the University of Montreal.
The community residency was organized by the Maine Folque Co-op (www.MaineFolqueCo-op.com). Joining USM LAC as partners in the collaboration were Bates College, the Lewiston Public Library, the Lewiston chapter of the Association Canado-Américaine/Royal Arcanum, and the Farwell School PTA.