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Common Ground on the Hill prepares for Traditions Weeks

Common Ground on the Hill attendees jam on instruments together.
June 25, 2013

Common Ground on the Hill will mark its 19th anniversary this summer with two weeks of workshops, evening concerts, art exhibits and classes July 1-5 and July 8-12 followed by a weekend music festival.

Over 600 participants originating from as far away as Scotland and as nearby as Westminster will arrive on campus to not only learn about instrument construction, blacksmithing and spoken wordplay, but also to share a dialog about the human experience in the flagship class, “The Search for Common Ground.”

“We gather at Common Ground on the Hill in our nineteenth summer in the midst of a world experiencing continuing crucial financial and ecological crises, wars, growing nuclear threats, issues of immigration and the continued threat of terror, both foreign and domestic,” reads the course description. “Yet, we still find ourselves at a time of potential for great change. We shall discuss and consider what we are doing, as artists and individuals, to bring about the changes that we desire.”

This year, Common Ground on the Hill is sponsoring week-long scholarships for 30 veterans as part of the Veterans Initiative launched in 2012, which aims to provide a safe space for veterans to process and share their experiences with other veterans and non-veterans alike. Besides participating in the full spectrum of classes, they will also be teaching a class about veterans and the initiative. The 10 veterans welcomed to the Hill last year described the experience as life changing. 

Registered participants are not the only ones who benefit from the Common Ground experience, however. Members of the surrounding community often attend evening concerts, experience the free performances of Common Ground on the Town, or sign up for just one class.

Classes and workshops center on traditional roots-based topics and can be taken for college credit. This year, participants can look forward to learning about a plethora of arts and traditions, including “Funky Scottish Harp Tunes,” “Poetry of War and Peace,” and “Southern Appalachian Flatfooting and Clogging.”

To reinforce the mission of finding common ground in the face of challenging issues, each week features a keynote speaker. Documentary filmmaker John Carlos Frey will be presenting his perspective on immigration issues, border control, and migrant life on July 1, while on July 8, Common Ground welcomes Maryland State Senator Brian Frosh for his lecture titled, “Making Public Policy: Protecting the Environment and Reducing Gun Violence.”

During these two weeks, summer concerts will be offered every weekday evening at Alumni Hall. Tickets are $10 per person, and children under 12 are free.

Following Traditions Weeks is the July 13 & 14 Festival at the Carroll County Farm Museum. Grammy winner and accordionist Buckwheat Zydeco will headline the event with a zydeco-style performance. Other performers include Scotland’s Paul McKenna Band, Grammy nominee and Blues artist Professor Louie, and Walt Michael and Co, led by McDaniel’s artist in residence. For the full lineup and ticket information, visit

After the July 13 festival events is Common Ground on the Town, a concert experience that will bring festival artists to downtown Westminster venues, including the Westminster Public Library and local restaurants. This free series will begin at 9 p.m. 

For registration and information, go to or call (410) 857-2771.