It was a testimony to talent and enjoyment when the Cariboo-Chilcotin Youth Fiddle Society presented The Life of a Fiddle last weekend at the Gibraltar Room.
This fantastic show was the culmination of two years of hard work by the children, their instructors Ingrid Johnston, Jenny Howell, John Christofferson and Greg Nixon with fiddler, composer and arranger Gordon Stobbe from Nova Scotia who visited the community on several occasions to work with them on the show.
Thirty-four young musicians ranging in ages from five to 19 took turns playing instruments, acting and singing to tell the story of a fiddle from its creation in 1745 in a European village until the present day where it was united with a girl named Anna.
Anna’s grandmother Colleen had brought the fiddle to her ranch in the Chilcotin.
“Let us fathom that we might know the secrets of this ancient fiddle,” said Bryn Thompson, one of the parents who played the part of the narrator as he set the stage for the story. “Whose feet have danced to its lively rhythm? Whose tears have mingled with its rosin and scratched on the varnish. Whose belt buckle rubbed against the back of the fiddle? Whose strong working hands played around an open fire while gypsies danced around the fire?”
Thompson encouraged the audience to let their imaginations soar and their ears tinkle.
The story opens with Anna — depicted by fiddle parent Lisa Hartwick — uncovering the fiddle wrapped in her grandmother’s wedding dress tucked away with old letters.
“I think everyone had forgotten about this old steamer trunk that holds my grandmother’s finest possessions,” Anna says. “Imagine the goose bumps I felt when I found this old fiddle.”
Inside the fiddle Anna finds a label — Amati — and suddenly the fiddle begins to speak to her and invites her to join him in the first workshop where he was created.
As Amati, played by Michael Rawluk, shares his memoirs and wild tales, a story unfolds that endures through the centuries.
“Step inside the shop,” Amati says to Anna as they settle in on one side of the stage where an elaborate set created by parents augments the mood.
The fiddle’s story takes the audience all over, offering up everything from Italian soul to Irish jigs.
One of the breathtaking highlights of the show comes at the end of the first act with a traditional May pole dance under the direction of the children’s English Dance Master, portrayed by Stobbe.
Grabbing the colourful ribbons the young musicians weave in and out creating a pattern on the pole and delight for the audience.
At one point some of the younger keyboard players join Madison Magnowski, home after completing her first year of university, at the grand piano for a unique ensemble.
Some of them pluck the strings and some the keys, while others use the piano as a percussion instrument.
Anyone who saw the show is still probably humming a tune or smiling visualizing the children’s theatrical portions of the show.
Whether it’s the dancing horse, the bullfighting, or the magical scene with the ferries and gnomes, it seemed like the creators of the show pulled out all the stops.
For those who missed the show, and are disappointed, there are videos for sale of Saturday evening’s performance.
In their own words, the society said it took practice, preparation and passion to create the show.
The CCYFS is a performance group that started small with a few families and has grown to its current membership of 35 musicians.
The group’s success had led to the addition of a guitar teacher, an adult fiddle mentor, youth fiddle mentors and a drummer.
Anyone who would like more information can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.