Nanaimo’s Fiddelium youth fiddle group – Ava Shaw, Mieka Schneidereit, Norah Figuera, Verena Wessler, Olivia Crowhurst, Lua Javaheri, Alistair Day, Mia Stahuliak and Morganna Parr (from left) – won first prize in their category in the 2021 CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge. (Photo courtesy Miriam Stahuliak)

Nanaimo’s Fiddelium youth fiddle group – Ava Shaw, Mieka Schneidereit, Norah Figuera, Verena Wessler, Olivia Crowhurst, Lua Javaheri, Alistair Day, Mia Stahuliak and Morganna Parr (from left) – won first prize in their category in the 2021 CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge. (Photo courtesy Miriam Stahuliak)

Nanaimo’s Fiddelium repeats as CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge winners

Youth fiddle group finished first in Community/Independent/Private School Class category

A Nanaimo youth fiddle ensemble has defended its title as one of the top music classes in the country.

On Dec. 14 the winners of the CBC’s Canadian Music Class Challenge were announced and Nanaimo’s Fiddelium finished first in the Community/Independent/Private School Class category for their rendition of Top of my School by Burlington, Ont. singer-songwriter Katherine Lynn-Rose. It’s the group’s second win in a row after taking the Junior Instrumental title last year. First prize is a plaque and a $1,000 gift card for music store Long and McQuade.

In her commentary, judge Jasmine Denham, a Juno-nominated songwriter and CBC Music producer, called it “another outstanding performance and arrangement from Fiddelium that demonstrates an exceptional level of skill.”

“I keep watching this performance over and over again … I’m mesmerized,” she said. “These young musicians are performing at a professional level — it’s crazy to think that they are teenagers. Amazing. Just … wow.”

Fiddelium co-director Trish Horrocks said she was surprised by the win and was “preparing myself for some disappointment from the kids.” Fiddelium finished ahead of nine other finalists from Duncan, Victoria, Vancouver, Montreal, Winnipeg, Pine Glen, N.B. as well as Kingston, Oakville and Colborne, Ont., including high school groups.

“The three youngest members of Fiddelium are 11 years old,” Horrocks said. “So for them to be able to be comparable to kids in Grade 12, that is an accomplishment. They are pretty hard-working kids.”

Second-year Fiddelium member Mia Stahuliak, 11, was excited to win again. She said the group’s choreography and wardrobe might have caught the judges’ attention.

“We really looked like we were a group,” she said. “We had outfits that were all quite similar … and also we were looking at each other and we were smiling under the masks.”

Cellist Verena Wessler, 11, is new to Fiddelium. She said there were a lot of talented groups in the running but she felt confident about Fiddelium’s chances. She said there were pros and cons to being the only cello in the performance.

“It’s very challenging but I don’t have to dance around,” she said. “That makes it easier.”

Of the 25 songs to choose from, Horrocks said she went with Top of my School because of its “rhythmic groove,” interesting melody and chord progression and the relevance of its subject matter.

“It was written by a high school kid … as sort of a reflection on what it’s like to be a kid who feels that she has to do well in order to be appreciated and loved,” Horrocks said. “And then I just looked at Fiddelium and I went, ‘OK, well, this is a group of kids, they’re all really academic, they’re all super high achievers,’ and it felt like a good fit.”

As for the winnings, Horrocks said the plan is to use some of the prize money to support programs in the community that provide music education for children who may not have the same opportunities as those in Fiddelium.

“This year we’ll split the money between the kids in Fiddelium – we’ll give them each a little something from Long and McQuade – and then the rest will go to some deserving program in town,” she said.

RELATED: Nanaimo’s Fiddelium fiddle ensemble wins CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge

RELATED: Nanaimo youth fiddlers win first place in CBC Canadian Music Class Challenge



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