The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Mariel Vandersteel will teach and perform as part of the Fall Fiddle Festival. Courtesy photo.

Concord Community Music School Fall Fiddle Festival

Where: Concord Community Music School, 23 Wall St., Concord
Concert with Fugue Mill: Friday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m., tickets $15, $12 for students and seniors
Fall Fiddle Festival Workshops: Saturday, Oct. 22, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., $75 for the whole day; deadline to register is Wednesday, Oct. 19
Fall Fiddle Festival Concert: Saturday, Oct. 22, at 7:30 p.m., $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors (though this is included with the $75 workshop admission); featuring Pascal Gemme, Mariel Vandersteel and Liz Faiella
Contact:, 228-1196

For fiddling fanatics
Music school hosts inaugural Fall Fiddle Festival

By Kelly Sennott

 New Hampshire fiddlers, rejoice — organizers at the Concord Community Music School launch the inaugural Fall Fiddle Festival this month, with events on Friday, Oct. 21, and Saturday, Oct. 22.

Music teacher Liz Faiella initiated the event, which takes inspiration from the school’s March Mandolin Festival, now entering its 15th year and organized by CCMS folk coordinator David Surette.
“[The March Mandolin Festival] is this wonderful event. Mandolinists descend on the music school for two days,” Faiella said via phone last week. “I just love the feeling of the festival. It’s so convivial, and David does such a wonderful job of putting together a weekend of multi-genre mandolin music. … I thought it would be so neat to see that happen with the fiddlers here.”
Particularly since the school’s fiddling program has been growing in popularity. When Faiella first started teaching there, there weren’t any fiddle ensembles. Now she heads four — two for adults, one for teens and one for kids. Surrette also leads a folk group for adults.
“Some teens might feel maybe a little too cool for folk music and these old traditions, but they’re so into it and come up with really cool arrangements and really creative ideas. A number of them signed up for workshops at the fiddle festival,” Faiella said. 
The reasons for the increased popularity, she can only guess.
“At the music school, I think there is a growing interest in folk music. You’re seeing a lot of mandolins and banjos and fiddles being incorporated into more mainstream music now, and I think people are getting exposed to it a little more,” said Faiella, naming Mumford & Sons as an example.
On Friday night at 7:30 p.m., there’s a concert with Mark Shilansky’s Fugue Mill, who will play original group pieces and music by composers like Leonard Cohen and Samuel Barber.
On Saturday, there are three sessions of workshops from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., each of which contains something for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. (They’re recommended for teens and adults, and some basic fiddle experience is required.) They’ll be taught by Pascal Gemme (on the Quebecois fiddle), Mariel Vandersteel (on the Scandinavian and Old-time fiddle) and Faiella (on the Irish fiddle). 
Later that night, the teaching trio will journey through several fiddling traditions in a concert at 7:30 p.m.
“I think that people are especially excited just about the idea of learning new styles of fiddling. I’m primarily an Irish fiddler and contra dance fiddler, and so it’s really neat for them, I think, to have the opportunity to expand their fiddling horizons a little bit and go outside their comfort zones,” Faiella said. 
Vandersteel has been playing in New England the past 10 years, having moved from California to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music. She thinks the New England fiddling scene is close-knit and bubbling with energy, in part due to schools like Berklee and the New England Conservatory, which foster traditional music at a high standard. She loves the sound of the instrument, and the people it brings together.
“I think it’s one of the instruments  that sounds most like the human voice, and I think that has a lot of appeal for performers,” Vandersteel said. “The fiddle community is also a very small, tight-knit and welcoming one. Once you’re in it, you have this whole family of fiddle people across the country and internationally to play with.” 

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