Finding her way
When American Lisa Ornstein picked up the fiddle for the very first time she unwittingly embarked on a musical adventure that would take her to the most unlikely places.
“The fiddle will lead you places you never thought you would go and you will end meeting amazing and wonderful people in places that you didn’t ever dream of visiting,” Ornstein told the News Bulletin. “There is something really magical about the fiddle. It’s no wonder there are all these stories and legends about it.”
Ornstein’s love for the fiddle took her to Quebec, where she originally intended to stay for six months.
“I actually had this grandiose plan where I was going to go to Quebec for a few months and then to Louisiana,” she said.
Instead she remained in Quebec for 12 years, became proficient in the French language and wound up as a regular member of the renowned folk group La Bottine Souriante.
On Thursday (July 10) Ornstein will be performing with her newest group, Le Bruit court dans la Ville, which includes bandmates, André Marchand, and Normand Miron at St. Paul’s Anglican Church.
“It will be music from Quebec,” Ornstein said about the upcoming performance. “Which has got a great reputation and deservedly so for some of the most exhilarating traditional dance music. It’s very lively, joyful and energetic sound.”
Ornstein was born in Connecticut but raised in Ohio and Illinois. She took an interest to the fiddle after meeting fiddle legend Tommy Jarrell.
Although it was Jarrell, a winner of the United States’ National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship, who introduced Ornstein to the fiddle it was Franco-American fiddler Louis Beaudoin who introduced her to the French-Canadian playing style.
“He [Beaudoin] and I met at a festival and I was just smitten with his music. It just had this great energy and it had the energy of old time music, but had this sound that absolutely took me away,” Ornstein said. “It was it one of these instant music clicks.”
Following her time in Quebec, Ornstein returned to the U.S., where she continued on with her music career and also began teaching music.
In 2010 she released her album The Magic Paintbrush, which is a compilation with Dan Compton.
When Ornstein looks back, she said that as a teenage fiddler in Ohio she would have never imagined living in Quebec.
“I would have just told you that you got to sit down and have something cool to drink and I’ll call the doctor,” Ornstein recalled.
Lisa Ornstein performs as a member of Le Bruit court dans la Ville on July 10 at St. Paul’s Anglican Church.