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Nanaimo fiddle ensemble up for two CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge awards

Fiddelium a finalist in Junior Instrumental and Community Music Class categories
Nanaimo’s Fiddelium fiddle ensemble is a finalist in two categories in the 2020 CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge. (Photo courtesy Cross Canada Fiddle)

A Nanaimo fiddle ensemble is up for two awards in the CBC’s 2020 Canadian Music Class Challenge.

On Dec. 8 the Top 10 finishers in the competition’s nine categories were announced and Cross Canada Fiddle’s Fiddelium is a contender in the Junior Instrumental (Grades 7 to 10) and Community Music Class categories for their performance of an arrangement of Hymn to Freedom by jazz pianist Oscar Peterson.

“We’re so proud of them. They work so hard and this particular piece of music was actually quite complicated,” Fiddelium co-director Trish Horrocks said. “There was a lot of hours that had to be put in for the kids to memorize their parts … and then they totally rose to the occasion and so I’m so happy for them because it’s just a great recognition of lots of hard work.”

First prize in the Junior Instrumental and Community Music Class categories is $3,000 and $1,000 in musical instruments, respectively. They also get a plaque. This year’s celebrity judges are musicians Terra Lightfoot, Ron Cohen Mann, Odario Williams and Julie Nesrallah.

Last year Cross Canada Fiddle’s Fiddle Frolics finished in first place in the Primary Instrumental (Kindergarten to Grade 3) category. The group won $3,000 in instruments for its rendition of the East Coast folk song I’s the B’y.

This year Horrocks chose Hymn to Freedom because she considers Peterson to be “of the greatest ever Canadian musicians.” It was also important for her to select a piece by a composer of colour and one that wouldn’t be heard on Top 40 radio.

“I have a little bit of a bias. I think, as someone who comes from a classically-trained background, that pop tunes played on the violin sound really lame,” Horrocks said. “The last thing I want to hear is a violinist playing Carly Rae Jepsen and as an arranger I don’t know how to make it sound cool.”

While Horrocks doesn’t embrace the notion of competition in music, admitting “it was something that caused me a lot of stress and anxiety as a young player,” she said she’s a fan of the Music Class Challenge because it brings her students together, gives them a goal to work towards and exposes them to other music programs from across Canada. And when she approached her students about participating in the challenge, she said they were keen to compete.

“Their goal was to make Top 10,” she said. “They’ve met their goal so I’m so proud of them.”

The winners of the 2020 Canadian Music Class Challenge will be announced on Dec. 15.

RELATED: Nanaimo fiddle instructors recognized for contributing to city’s culture

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