Last year’s West Coast Youth Fiddle Summit brought dozens of fiddlers to the Malaspina Theatre stage. The year’s event happens at the Port Theatre on Feb. 2. (Bulletin file photo)

Young musicians to gather in Nanaimo for West Coast Youth Fiddle Summit

Fiddlers from B.C., Alberta and the Yukon to participate in second annual event

After an inaugural gathering that saw 50 young fiddlers from the Island, Lower Mainland and Yukon gather at Malaspina Theatre, the West Coast Youth Fiddle Summit is back with even more musicians in an even larger venue.

But organizer and co-director of Nanaimo’s Fiddelium ensemble Trish Horrocks said a second summit wasn’t always a sure thing.

“It really was an enormous amount of work and it’s just my husband and I that organize it so at the end of it we sorta we thought maybe this would be a one-off,” Horrocks said. “We weren’t sure that we had the energy to do it again but it was such a hugely positive experience.”

She said the inaugural event accomplished the twin goals of providing the fiddlers with the opportunity to learn from new instructors and connect with other young people serious about their music.

“The coaching that our group and everybody got from the other directors was so helpful and valuable, really helped to bring the kids along as performers,” Horrocks said. “And also just those friendships, the fact that those kids all stayed in touch, is exactly what we wanted to come of it.”

On Sunday, Feb. 2 the second West Coast Youth Fiddle Summit comes to the Port Theatre. This year’s event will feature a total of 70 fiddlers and accompanying musician from Fiddelium, North Vancouver’s North Shore Celtic Ensemble, Whitehorse’s Yukon Fiddleheads and, making their summit debut, Calgary’s Bow Valley Fiddlers.

Fiddelium member Ellie Florey, 15, said it was “amazing” to get to meet, play with and learn from other serious musicians her age at last year’s event and she looks forward to being reunited with many of them.

“This show’s going to be really fun, seeing everybody again and being able to play with everyone together at the show and hopefully we’ll learn some new tunes as well,” she said.

This year’s visiting fiddle groups will arrive on the Friday and spend the next two days rehearsing for their individual group showcases as well as the big numbers that will see all 70 players on stage at once.

Horrocks said they’ve moved from Malaspina Theatre to the Port Theatre to give their guests a chance to see downtown Nanaimo and to give fiddlers like Fiddlehead Lydia Brown, 13, an opportunity to perform on their biggest stage yet.

Horrocks said it’s a “pretty special” opportunity for the fiddlers.

Brown said the largest venue she’s performed in until now is the Yukon Arts Centre, which at maximum has just more than half the capacity of the 800-seat Port Theatre.

“It’s going to be a very big difference, but I’m really excited,” she said. “I’m a little bit nervous but not that bad because I know that everybody’s there and they’re all playing with me so it’s going to be a fun experience.”

WHAT’S ON … Cross Canada Fiddle presents the 2020 West Coast Youth Fiddle Summit at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. All seats $20. Available at the box office.

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