Purdy fiddler plays at the White House

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Submitted photo Local youth perform at White House The Possom Hollow Fiddlers performed on Dec. 19, 2012, at the White House in Washington, D.C. The southwest Missouri musicians, from left, are: Jeff Rosinbaum, Leah Carneal, Josh Lee, Casey Ritchie, Sarah Jean, Brett Dudenhoeffer and Lacey Carneal.

Joshua Lee, a violinist of rural Purdy and a sophomore at Missouri State University, recently performed at the White House in Washington, D.C., with his colleagues from the Possom Hollow Fiddlers,

"I've not been to Washington, D.C., before. It was a great experience," Lee said. "I love traveling and visiting new places."

The Possom Hollow Fiddlers, a southwest Missouri ensemble that organized in 2010 to play traditional Ozarks music, sent a letter to the White House in 2011 inquiring about performing. The year was fully booked at the time.

In early 2012, the White House staff wrote back after listening to the submitted recording and extended an invitation. Seven of the nine in the group managed to free up the time and headed off on Dec. 19, 2012.

"I was on winter break so I was free," Lee said.

They played on Dec. 19, 2012, in a hallway of the White House, primarily for groups touring the building. For three hours the musicians played a mix of music, from traditional selections such as "Arkansas Traveler" and "Missouri Waltz" to a Big Band tune and Christmas songs.

"We have quite a bit of repertory," Lee said. "Even I was tired after three hours. People reacted positively to our playing. It was kind of cool to play for people who have never heard music like that."

Around 1,800 people passed by and heard the fiddlers. The group played in a room that led directly to an exit, making the music the parting impression from the tour. Lee said the room had a large Christmas tree in it and portrait paintings of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

"We had a few all-day weekend rehearsals before we left," Lee said. "Our performance went pretty much according to plan. We talked to White House staff people and the Secret Service while we were there. Unfortunately, the president was not there."

The next day group members toured the sights themselves. For Lee, the high point of the trip was visiting the Capitol building and being surrounded by its historical setting.

Lee, the son of Dan and Verna Lee, who live in the Corsicana area, is working on a bachelor's degree in music performance. He is a past player with the Ozark Festival Orchestra.

The Possom Hollow Fiddlers have played in many Branson venues and at music festivals in Missouri and in Edinburgh, Scotland. For more information, contact Ozark Mountain Music, PO Box 36, Reeds Spring, MO 65737 or call Bob McGill at 417-538-4220.

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