For the second year in a row Nanaimo’s Cross Canada Fiddle music education program is a first place finisher in the CBC’s Canadian Music Class Challenge.
On Dec. 15 the winners of the national contest were announced and Cross Canada Fiddle’s Fiddelium class won first prize in the Junior Instrumental (Grades 7 to 10) category for its rendition of Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom. The group will receive $3,000 and a plaque. In her commentary, judge Julie Nesrallah praised the group’s “poise, beauty of tone and … sensitive sense of ensemble.”
“I’m just so proud of the kids, really. Just so proud,” Fiddelium co-director Trish Horrocks said. “They worked so hard and in a year that has been, I think, emotionally really hard and has left people feeling really isolated it’s extra special that they were recognized.”
Fiddelium member Olivia Crowhurst, 15, heard the news first thing in the morning from her parents. Her mother Nicola said “it was one of the biggest smiles I’ve seen on her at 7:15 a.m.”
“It just highlights the fact that Fiddelium’s a really great ensemble and Trish and [co-director Geoff Horrocks] are so good at what they do,” Olivia said. “Because it was Trish who really put together the sheet music for us to play and got all those harmonies together.”
Fellow Fiddelium fiddler Mieka Schneidereit, 14, said she was optimistic about her group’s chances. She said they put a lot of work into memorizing both the music and choreography.
“I didn’t really mind if we won or not because I was really happy with the end result of the video,” she said. “But when my mom told me this morning, I was definitely so excited.”
Fiddelium was up against nine other classes from Nova Scotia, Ontario, B.C., Prince Edward Island and Manitoba for the award and was also a Top 10 finalist in the Community Music Class category. Horrocks said she plans to use the winnings to provide her 15 students with sheet music to help them “build their music libraries” with leftover funds going towards performance equipment.
Last year Cross Canada Fiddle’s Fiddle Frolics ensemble won first place in the Primary Instrumental (Kindergarten to Grade 3) category for their version of the East Coast folk song I’s the B’y. Although her groups have now won two years in a row, Horrocks said she doesn’t feel pressure for next year’s music class challenge because she doesn’t view it as a competition. She sees it as a motivator and a teaching moment.
“We’ll enter again next year for sure. Is the pressure on? I don’t think so,” she said. “I think they could win again because I know that they’re really hardworking, talented kids. But that’s never our goal in the outset. It’s really just about making excellent music together.”
Fiddelium’s winning video can be viewed here.