Adam Sweet has a BA in music and certificates in music education. He graduated from Hampshire College in 1985 and began teaching fiddle and mandolin part-time in 1986. In 1999, Adam became a full time teacher offering private and group lessons on violin-family and mandolin-family instruments, guitar, bass and Irish bouzouki.
Adam is the President and a co-founder of Mandolin New England, Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to mandolin and mandolin orchestra education and performances in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Learn more about Mandolin New England here.
Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, all private lessons and group classes are available online using Slack, Google Meet and YouTube LIVE. Please ask if you need help with these programs.
Adam has performed with various traditional and folk bands for decades. Here is a brief listing with links to recordings:
2004-2019 Celticado with Jim Bunting on guitar, mandolin and bouzouki, and Adam Sweet on fiddle and mandolin
1997-2004 Woodkerne with Paul Burton on guitar, John Rough on banjo, Dan Richardson on bodhran, Andy Weiner on bodhran and Adam Sweet on fiddle and Irish bouzouki
1997-1999 Swift River Bluegrass with Claiborne Woodall guitar, John Rough banjo, Bruce bass and Adam Sweet fiddle
1989-1999 Maple Ridge Bluegrass with Terry Atkinson guitar, John Rough banjo, Joe Blumenthal bass and Adam Sweet fiddle/mandolin
1986-1990 Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra with Nathan Gotschalk, conductor
1989-1999 Valley Light Opera
1980-1985 Hampshire College - Five College Symphony Orchestra and various string bands with friends: Pieces of Neck, Backwoods Medicine and The Lonesome Fish Quintet
1978-1980 GBYSO including a tour of Europe
1974-1980 The Conservatory at Rivers, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music
1966-1974 The New England Conservatory of Music (pilot Suzuki program at Dana Hall)
The following biography was written by a student in 2020:
Adam Richard Sweet was born and grew up in the Boston area of Massachusetts. He started violin in a pilot program offered through the New England Conservatory of Music at Dana Hall School in 1966. His first teacher was Japanese. Her name was Miss Yuzaki. He was 4 years old. The pilot program ended in 1975. The teachers moved over to the Conservatory of Music at Rivers in Weston. Adam attended the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, NH, which was an 8 week program from the end of June until the first week in August. At that time he would go with his family to the Echo Lake AMC camp on Mt. Desert Island in Maine for a week. At the Conservatory, Adam studied violin, chamber music, orchestra and theory. He also took courses in World Music, Improvisation and Jazz. Adam participated in the Brandeis Gilbert and Sullivan pit orchestra, the Valley Light Opera in Weston, and played fiddle in a contradance band that performed in Lincoln, Acton, Marlborough, Concord and other towns in eastern Mass.
At Apple Hill, Adam studied the following composers: Mozart, Bach, Mendelssohn, Borodin, Milhaud, Brahms and Schubert. He had his first viola lesson with Robert Merfeld in 1978, and began taking viola lessons with Betty Hauck after. He studied both violin AND viola until graduating from the Conservatory with honors in 1980.
Adam joined the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra (GBYSO), in 1978. The orchestra rehearsed at Boston University and performed concerts all over the North East. That summer, the orchestra toured Europe, starting in Germany and performing throughout Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland. There was no time to go to Italy, unfortunately. While in Germany, Adam stayed with a German family in Dusseldorf. Adam was very good at school, receiving A's in almost every subject. He was quite inquisitive, and took extra credit courses in World History, Biology, Ecology and Writing. He did very well on the SAT's, receiving a final score of 1550. He applied to Earlham College, Oberlin Conservatory, College of the Atlantic and Hampshire College. He got in everywhere, but was waitlisted at Oberlin, the place he really wanted to attend. Not wanting to wait six months, he decided on Hampshire College after a visit there with his Mom in 1979.
Hampshire was an unusual college. There were no grades, no requirements to attend classes and no direction. It was perfect for Adam. He studied biology, geology, physiology, physics and animal behavior. Other courses included anthropology, psychology, sociology, and geography, as well as Western civilization and American history. His first advisor was Charlene D'Avanzo, a biologist. He took hydroponics and vertical farming with her. In his second year, Adam switched to an Expressive Arts major, and his new advisor was Ray Copeland, a flugelhorn player and jazz musician. Ray encouraged Adam to study Bluegrass Music by traveling to Washington DC and Virginia to learn directly from professional musicians. Adam took the train to the city and spent 4 days following three bands as they performed around town. It was a fantastic experience. Adam graduated with a BA in 1985, having studied a ton of music, science and history.
Upon graduating from Hampshire, Adam and his girlfriend at the time, rented a house in Amherst. He worked as a cashier at a gas station in S. Amherst while she finished her degree (also at Hampshire). He applied for a manager position at Bread & Circus, a Whole Foods Market in Hadley, where he was hired. First as receiving department manager, and later as Wine & Cheese manager. Adam left when the company was bought by Wholefoods in 1992 to work briefly as an OC at MGH in Boston, and then as NSM for a German company that made organic pharmaceuticals and skin care products. He worked at the factory in S. Germany the summer of 1995.
Adam played mandolin and fiddle in bluegrass bands throughout College, some mentioned above. After college, he continued to play classical violin and viola with the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra (PVSO), and joined a bluegrass band called Maple Ridge (link to recordings above) on mandolin and fiddle.
In 1997, he formed Woodkerne, a Celtic quartet - with John Rough on banjo, Paul Burton on guitar, Dan Richardson on bodhran and Adam on fiddle and mandolin. The band performed for weddings, private events, public concerts and St Patrick's Day parties until l2009, when they disbanded. Paul Burton left the band in 2003 to move to California with his family. Dan Richardson left the band soon after. Jim Bunting joined on guitar and bouzouki, and later, Andy Weiner joined on bodhran.
Adam opened his studio in 1986, teaching mandolin and fiddle part time (as mentioned above). He met Brian Bender at a Klezmer session in Northampton in 1995. Brian encouraged Adam to go back to his roots and study the music of his ancestors. Since Adam's ancestors were from Germany as well as Wales, Scotland and Ireland, Adam decided to go to Ireland with his fiddle. In the summer of 1996, Adam spent 9 weeks following his teacher, Frankie Gavin, all around the Island. He lived for a couple weeks in Kilfenora, playing at Linnane's Pub every night.
Back home in the States, Adam was asked to join Swift River, a bluegrass band that played all originals in 1997. The band members were all bluegrass veterans, except for Bruce, the bass player. They performed concerts in Brattleboro VT (at the Mole's Eye Cafe where Stan Rogers had played all those years ago), and at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, a famous bluegrass pub near Boston.
Adam co-founded Yiddishkeit Klezmer with Brian Bender soon after. Brian and Adam were hired to perform in a World Music Festival in Egypt in December 1999. They played a Celtic set as Fiddle Hill, and a Klezmer set as Yiddishkeit.
Adam's oldest son Parker was born in July of 1999. By then he had bought a house in Belchertown and was actively teaching students and running a mandolin group that performed primarily Mozart and Bach, but also studied Vivaldi, Handel and Pachelbel. The group expanded in 2000 and by 2005, consisted of almost 12 players. The house on Federal St was too small to hold a 13-member mandolin orchestra, so Adam found a place to rehearse in Amherst, first at the Senior Center, and later at a newly minted Red Barn Music on Main Street.
In 2008, Adam and his wife Emily bought a house in South Hadley. Adam taught full time out of the house on Lincoln Ave. The Mandolin Orchestra, then simply called the South Hadley Mandolin Orchestra, rehearsed out of the house as well. In 2015, the Mandolin Orchestra had it's debut performance with members of the newly minted "Mandolin New England", co-founded by Will Melton, Josh Bell and Adam Sweet. Adam began pursuing a 501c3 nonprofit status for the orchestra that wouldn't be warded until 2019, four years later.
For more information on the nonprofit mandolin orchestra, click here. Donations are graciously accepted!
In May of 2019, Adam and Emily and their youngest child moved to Granby. They bought a large property so they could grow apple trees, blueberry bushes and raise chickens.