Fans of Nanaimo’s Fiddelium youth fiddle ensemble can now take the group’s music home with them.
Last month Fiddelium released its self-titled debut album. Because of COVID-19 precautions, each of the 15 violin and viola players recorded their parts one at a time, with Fiddelium co-director Geoff Horrocks editing the individual performances together afterwards using “the magic of software.”
He called it “an interesting process.”
“All the kids were really well prepared,” Horrocks said. “Sometimes the kids had to take a couple of runs at it … but it was an interesting challenge because you’re not all in the same room and so you don’t have any visual communication between the players, so staying together was hard to do.”
The CD features Irish, French Canadian, Swedish and classical pieces, as well as songs by fiddlers J.J. Guy from Saskatoon and Gordon Stobbe of Halifax, two frequent guests of Fiddelium, works by Canadian fiddler Oliver Schroer, pianist Oscar Peterson and Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste. There’s even a Fiddelium original called For Keitha, dedicated to Whitehorse-based fiddle instructor Keitha Clark, another friend of Fiddelium.
“Everybody had to write something waltz-based in a particular key and we took all of the pieces and we stitched a tune out of it,” Horrocks said.
The recording was done at Fiddelium co-directors Geoff and Trish Horrocks’ home studio during the first three months of 2021. Fiddelium member Ben Rainer, 14, said it was his first time in a recording studio and it was “really interesting” to learn about the process.
“I’m more of a tech person myself, so I might have looked at the microphones a bit and poked around, saw how everything worked. It was pretty captivating,” he said. “It felt really cool to be in a recording studio and have my instrument be a part of this CD.”
Fiddelium member Mieka Schneidereit, 15, said it was her “first big recording session” as well.
“It was definitely exciting,” she said. “It felt really real when you actually put on the headset and started recording in the booth and it was a really cool and fun experience.”
After receiving her copy of the CD, Schneidereit asked for a few more to give to friends and family. She said listening to the album put her in her own audience for the first time.
“When I’m playing with the group I don’t really know how we sound because I’m focused … or I’m just having a good time,” she said. “So when I actually hear our group play it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. That’s how we sound.’”
Fiddelium’s debut album is available here.