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Fiddle Summit brings northern traditions to Shepherdstown

By Staff | Dec 27, 2013

Those looking for something fun to do after all the bustle of the holidays and the turn of the New Year should make plans to attend the Fiddle Summit concert. It might be just the thing to brighten up January.

Each year, the Upper Potomac Music Weekends holds a retreat for fiddlers wishing to hone their skills on this first weekend of January and the showcase concert, called the Fiddle Summit, on Friday, Jan. 3, has some really special guests this year. The concert showcases the weekend’s staff, with six different fiddlers in six different styles, as well as a few great accompanists to make the music richer.

The weekend starts with the concert on Friday evening, Jan. 3, at 8 p.m. at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church, as each teacher plays a segment of the concert which showcases their style and each half is ended with a few pieces which combine several of the staff in creative ways for medleys of repertoire their styles share. The fun continues after the concert, in a late night jam, where many of the weekend’s students join the staff in jam sessions where all play together in a variety of styles. Saturday students attend classes during the day, and in the evening, either play for the Shepherdstown monthly contra dance or in one of three different jam sessions.

The New England fiddler, Rodney Miller is widely considered to be the foremost exponent of New England style fiddling. Over the past 30 years, Miller has toured the United States, Canada, the British Isles, Australia and Denmark and he has recorded over ten albums. Rodney Miller recordings, “Castles in the Air”, “Airplang” and “New England Chestnuts” have become classics for fiddlers worldwide and many of his original compositions have gone on to become fiddle tune standards. In l983, Rodney was designated a “Master Fiddler” by the National Endowment for the Arts. “Rodney’s playing is always sweetly melodic, textural, resonant, exciting and adventuresome.” Scott Alarik, Boston Globe Music Critic

Coming down from Cape Breton, Kimberley Fraser has been performing on fiddle, piano and step dance since early childhood and now, though still in her 20’s she has extensive performing and teaching credentials. With two recordings to her credit, including her award-winning recording, “Falling on New Ground”, she has played with many of Cape Breton’s finest musicians and has toured with Cherish the Ladies. Kimberley graduated from the Berklee College of Music. And is a National Scottish fiddle champion. She has been a long-time instructor at Cape Breton’s renowned Gaelic College and other music camps. She will be joined by New Waterford, Nova Scotia native, Doug MacPhee, who comes from a family steeped in the traditional music of Cape Breton Island. Doug has performed with all the great fiddlers of Cape Breton over the years. Although he prides himself in his ability as an accompanist, Doug is also known as Cape Breton’s foremost piano soloist. He has appeared on over forty recordings of traditional music and has released many of his own, including a solo recording in 2002, entitled “Compilations of Favorite Cape Breton Piano Solos”.

Fiddle virtuoso Lisa Ornstein is an outstanding interpreter of the traditional music of French Canada and Appalachia, blending compelling and inventive playing with impeccable tune choice. Befriended by North Carolina fiddle legend Tommy Jarrell while she was in her teens, Lisa quickly became an accomplished fiddler in the Round Peak style. A musical friendship with Franco-American fiddler Louis Beaudoin set her on a path to Quebec in 1978. When La Bottine Souriante – Quebec’s internationally renowned traditional supergroup – invited her to join the band, Lisa’s projected six-month stay began to stretch, eventually lasting twelve years. While in Quebec, Lisa spent countless hours visiting with older musicians and playing in kitchens and dance halls. She also squeezed in a master’s in folklore on the life and music of master fiddler Louis “Pitou” Boudreault. She has taught, concertized, and toured extensively in North America and Europe with some of Quebec’s finest musicians, and recorded for both Smithsonian Folkways and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Her music appears on a number of La Bottine’s albums, and on critically acclaimed CDs with former bandmates Andr Marchand and Normand Miron.

If dance hall floors could talk, Joe DeZarn would have a lot to answer for. Dancers have been inspired by his fiddle music at ceilis, contras and feiseanna for decades. Joe is a warm and enthusiastic teacher. His Irish fiddle classes are favorites for years at our annual Fiddle Summit, as well as at our regional CCE branch’s MAD Week. Joe Herrmann and his wife Sam founded Critton Hollow String Band in 1975. The group has toured internationally and recorded six albums and Joe has recently released a solo recording “Gather Round”. A favorite of many instructional weeks and festivals, Joe is known for his patient and generous teaching and his great command of Appalachian repertoire. Ken Kolodner is known for his expressive and improvisational style and for his creative back-up playing on the hammered dulcimer. He has toured extensively solo and with the bands Helicon and Greenfire, and is a popular teacher at many festivals and workshops. He has numerous wellreceived recordings with both ensembles to his credit as well as new recordings with his son Bradley, and Elke Baker. Paul Oorts a native of Belgium, is adept at musette accordion and many things with strings. His instrumental versatility and knowledge of many different styles of music have made Paul the accompanist of choice for many hammered dulcimer players and a valued member of several dance ensembles. He plays English and contra dance music with Goldcrest and Cabaret Sauvignon and traditional French music with Ensemble Tympanon. As a member of the Rigatoni Brothers he researches and performs Italian-American mandolin in trio music.

All of these folks together comprise a wealth of talent and expertise in a wide variety of music. The concert is just a fine start to a whole weekend of lessons, jam sessions, dances and other events to enrich our local fiddle players, dancers and other musicians. It will concentrate on New England, French Canadian and Irish traditions in the first half and then venture into Scottish, Cape Breton and Old Time traditions in the second half. The concert is the third of this year’s programs in the Shepherdstown Music and Dance International Concert Series and tickets and will be held at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church on the corner of King and Washington streets in Shepherdstown, WV. Admission is $18 adults, $15 seniors, $12 SMD members, $8 students, Free to Shepherd Students with Rambler ID; tickets will be sold in advance at O’Hurley’s General Store as well as at the door. For more information call Joanie at (304) 263-2531 or email updf@earthlink.net, on the web at www.smad.us .