It's fun. For me to be up on stage, it's different from school. Because in school you know you're not a genius, but when you're on stage, you know you're a genius.
—Meghan Mowatt, fiddler from Matheson Lake, Manitoba
They are coming from as far away as Norway House, Grand Rapids, Matheson Island, Wanipagow and Berens River. They're aged 12 to 18. And they all love to play the fiddle.
They're part of a wildly successful fiddle program running in the Frontier School Division called The Frontier Fiddlers. Twenty-four of them have gathered in Winnipeg to record their first CD and to give a couple of concerts at the West End Cultural Centre on Friday, March 16. They include a free community concert at 1:00 p.m. and another at 8:00 p.m. with a modest charge.
The group is joined by some professional musicians to help out on the recording, including Daniel Koulack on string bass, who is helping to organize the events, Daniel Roy on drums, Lindsey Bart on guitar and Jeremy Rusu on piano, accordion and guitar. Don Benedictson is overseeing the production.
Fiddler Amy Lambert of Falcon Lake (CBC)
"At first I was really nervous," admits 13-year old Amy Lambert of Falcon Lake, when asked about the recording project. "But it's a huge honour to be such a
young age and be with an elite group of fiddlers throughout Manitoba.
So it feels really good, really accomplished."
For the evening show the young fiddlers will also be joined by four alumni of the program, Matthew Contois, Ryan D'Aoust, Marcel Halpel and Brooke Christie. Matthew and Ryan have both been honoured at the Manitoba Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards
for their fiddling. They participated in the Prairie Scene Arts Festival
in Ottawa and were showcased at the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition
. Marcel Halpel is developing his Cape Breton/Celtic style of playing and is now a full-time teacher in the Frontier School Division. Brooke Christie is falling for the Appalachian fiddle style.
The fiddling program has filled a void in many small remote locations where resources for youths are slim. These students have found a true outlet in fiddling and the young players are universally enthusiastic.
"I love when you're in a group and you all just get it and it sounds so great when you're all together," says Amy. "You get that feeling of 'Oh my gosh, it sounds so good.'"
Thirteen-year old Meghan Mowatt of Matheson Island loves performing. "It's fun. For me to be up on stage, it's different from school. Because in school you know you're not a genius, but when you're on stage, you know you're a genius."