The opportunity to learn under local resident Ken Bloom will attract aspiring musicians from across the country to Pilot Mountain this weekend for a much anticipated time of instruction and fellowship, culminating on Saturday evening with a community concert at Pilot Mountain Friends Meeting.
The occasion is the 14th annual Pilot Mountain Bowed Dulcimer Festival. The event was started and is hosted each year by Bloom, an accomplished musician who has revitalized what was an almost forgotten instrument – the bowed dulcimer.
Twenty students from across the region and beyond will take part in Friday afternoon and Saturday classes. In a new feature, Bloom will be assisted by Marsha Harris and Rachel Sprinkle, who will be able to focus much of their attention on beginning students.
Bloom will again be assisted by Harris and Sprinkle for Saturday evening’s concert, with both joining him on stage at some point. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. with the concert scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Requested admission is a $10 donation. Pilot Mountain Friends Meeting is located at 603 W Main Street, Pilot Mountain.
A craftsman, teacher and musician, Bloom moved to Pilot Mountain more than two decades ago. Since then, he has continued to expand on what was already a diverse and highly respected musical career.
A natural musician, Bloom developed an early interest in music and history. He was soon playing an assortment of international compositions and instruments in the California studios near his home.
Since 1974, he has given solo concerts throughout North America. Displaying skills with and appreciation for numerous instruments, Bloom focused on the traditional music of the United States along with a variety of Celtic and Eastern European selections.
In addition to his concerts, Bloom has worked as a professional guitarist, taught both music and music history and, for more than two decades, has built a wide variety of instruments.
Bloom’s instruments often reflect his personal interest in music history. He has researched instruments from the past three centuries and has made both replicas and innovative variations of classics. He has also built or renovated instruments by request for musicians in other countries, often making required changes to give the piece as nearly as possible the look and sound desired by its owner.
This interest led him to develop a variation of the bowed dulcimer. A nearly forgotten version of the traditional dulcimer, Bloom has made alterations to give an instrument design from the early 19th century a more melodic sound, making it “more suitable for modern ears.”
The Saturday evening concert offers a chance for attendees as well as locals to hear Bloom perform. Bloom has also hosted other occasional concerts at the venue.
“I’m grateful to the Pilot Mountain Friends folks for allowing use of the facility year-round,” he said. “They’re very welcoming and encouraging. It’s a good relationship.”
“I like being comfortable on stage,” Bloom said, “and I’m looking forward to a comfortable, informal atmosphere. It should be an enjoyable evening for everyone.”