2013-05-29 / Front Page

Trinity Church Musical Saw Festival To Be Held On June 1

By Catherina Gioino

When people think of musicians, the wonderful works of Mozart and Beethoven come quickly to mind. Others might swiftly think of the musical stylings of Jimi Hendrix or The Beatles. Few, however, believe that a seemingly regular “garden tool” can be used to make music.
And that is why the instrument is not a garden tool. On June 1 at 2 p.m., the 10th Annual Musical Saw Festival will be held at Trinity Church on 37 Street in Astoria, where numerous musical saw performers will be able to showcase their talents and perform music for all the guests.
“The festival started out of demand. More than ten years ago, I held gatherings for musical saw players at my house whenever a saw player from far away visited New York City. There were only four other saw players besides myself at the gathering, so it was no problem holding it at my house. Over time, more and more saw players wanted to participate and their friends and family wanted to watch, but my house is small. Suggestions came in to hold the gatherings in a public area open to the public, but no one was willing to organize it.  They unanimously said I should be the one to do it. To this day I have no idea why they all thought it should be me, but I did take it on,” stated musical saw player, Natalia “Saw Lady” Paruz.
Recently, Helen Marshall, the current Borough President of Queens, presented the festival a proclamation, declaring June 1st to be Queen’s Musical Saw Festival Day. The festival even received recognition from Marshall as well as Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas.  
The festival will feature works from musical saw players like Paruz herself, as well as Ady Cohen, Scott Munsen and more, as well as artworks created by Lisa Canellas, Shoshana Hoyt, Heidi Younger, Aaron Porter and more. Willa France will recite a poem she wrote on the musical saw as the “Chorus of Saws” will be featured, which will include a group of professional saw players from around the world producing a grand spectacle with their saws. Michigan’s Thorn Eno will have a workshop for all to learn the basics of using a musical saw and New York’s own Doc Georg will teach people about the hammer saw. Oliver Doucet of Canada will have a workshop for more advanced musical saw players to learn about the different “tricks” on a musical saw and Mike Waldeck Jr. will teach people how to “mike” their musical saws.      
The Musical Saw Festival has grown to surpass a world record. In 2009, the “Largest Musical Saw Ensemble” record in the Guiness Book of World Records was awarded to the festival after having 53 people play saws together in an ensemble. The record previously went to Poland which had 28 people participating in a musical saw work of art.
“The Astoria community has been most enthusiastic and supportive. It is so nice that people who see me on the street say hello and ask how the festival preparations are going. Some people from the community have attended many of the festivals year after year. One woman, Gloria Ellias, has even been to all of them! We’ve had people from the community step up and volunteer for us, like Pat Merino and Harris Graber, who have become our official festival photographers. Every year, I commission two composers to write music for the festival and we premier their music at the beginning of the concert, and we had Justin Foley volunteer to record their performance,” Paruz stated. She later added, “The festival grew from just a concert to include a art exhibit, workshops and poetry.”
Admission is just $10 and the festival even has t-shirts available for purchase. Check out the festival’s website at musicalsawfestival.org for coverage on this year’s event as well as those from the years before, and visit Paruz’s Facebook page to hear some of her work as well as updates from the festival at facebook.com/pages/Natalia-Saw-Lady-Paruz-musical-saw-player .

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