We are musicians and naturalists who bring our love of the earth and sea into our music to celebrate the interconnectedness of all life. With tunes, songs, and wildlife recordings, we create a musical journey where the human, the natural and the contemplative meet.
We began playing together somewhat informally in 2004 with a small concert here and there. In 2007 we created Coracle to offer programs of Celtic, medieval and original compositions inspired by the land and the sea and Earth's creatures. We called our first concert "Brigid's Coracle: The Sacred Vessel." It was part of an art show at Stone Church Arts in Bellows Falls, Vermont. That art show, called "The Sacred: Vessels of Spirit and Meaning," opened on Imbolc, also known as St. Brigid's Day. Our choice of the tradtional Hebridean tune "St. Bride's Coracle" for that concert also gave us the name for our duo. A coracle is a small and precarious boat, a skin stretched over the simplest of willow frames. Lacking keel or rudder, the coracle depends on the balance of the rower, yet these craft were used to navigate open ocean. For us, the coracle represents the centered stillness out of which each moment emerges. It also represents the hollow-bodied instruments we play, empty vessels that create beautiful sound. It also evokes the sea and the wind and the unfathomable depths of the living world.
Our instruments include Celtic harp, Irish low whistles, cello, guitars both electric and acoustic, shruti box (an Indian dronal instrument), and bowed psaltery. Our soundscape recordings come mainly from the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, and from our home in southern Vermont.
Coracle is available for educational programs, conference workshops, concerts and private events.
If you would like to book Coracle for your event, or for more information, please email us.
Cynthia Hughes is an educator, storyteller, and poet who has taught in the public schools and in environmental education for more than thirty years. In her work as a public school librarian she brings a sense of wonder and discovery into her lessons, encouraging her students to develop a deep connection to the natural world. Cynthia was one of the founding board members of the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center in Brattleboro, VT. She has created many land-based theatrical presentations and musical arts events as well as ritual work for women's groups based in nature.
John Crockett has studied the vocal behavior of humpback whales, songbirds, and grey seals and now devotes much of his time to recording natural soundscapes. In 1995 he had his first encounter with a fin whale in the Bay of Fundy which led to work as a marine naturalist and the development of contemplative ecology. In 2005 he created The Natural Contemplative, a website devoted to environmental education and conservation from a contemplative perspective. John has worked with the Whale Conservation Institute/Ocean Alliance, the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, and the Environmental Studies Department at Antioch University New England.