World-class fiddlers coming to Hay River


photo courtesy of Dana Aneliunas
Renowned fiddler, square dance caller and teacher, and music educational Gordon Stobbe, left, will be in Hay River this weekend for the KCFA fiddle workshop. He is pictured above playing with fiddler Stacey Reid in Fort Simpson.

To the fiddle world, it’s like Hay River is expecting Mick Jagger this weekend.

So says Linda Duford with the Kole Crook Fiddle Association.

Gordon Stobbe, a nationally-renowned fiddler in the East Coast tradition, will be in Hay River for the association’s workshop on March 16 and 17.

Stobbe will also be performing at a by-donation performance for the community on Saturday night along with four other teachers from the workshop.

Stobbe had his own television program in Nova Scotia, ‘Up Home Tonight’, which aired across the country from 1982-1989. It featured prominent artists like Ashley McIsaac, Lorne Elliot and The Rankins.

Aside from performing, as well as teaching at the Long and McQuade Music Education Centre in Halifax, he now teaches at music workshops across Canada.

He’s like the Tommy Hunter of the Maritimes,” said Duford. “They fight over him in southern Canada to judge contests and to teach workshops. His schedule is so busy, but we were lucky to catch him on a free weekend.”

I don’t know what instrument he doesn’t play,” noted Dana Aneliunas, a member of the Kole Crook Fiddle Association.

Duford said the stars aligned to bring in some of the best fiddlers and teachers from across Canada. J.J Guy from Saskatchewan, Rod Olstad from Edmonton and Helen Edgar from New Brunswick will also be joining Duford to teach the workshop.

This is a hopeful beginning to the year for fiddling in the NWT. Interest in fiddling in the territory and in Hay River had been waning for some years, resulting in some program and workshop cancellations, before the association began programming in elementary schools.

The current participation level has taken almost two years to build, said Duford.

It’s been a lot of hard work, but it has paid off,” she said. “We had to cancel our summer camp in 2009 because interest in fiddling was low. We’ve been working to get it back. We now have between 35 and 40 people coming to our Sunday fiddle club.”

So far, 42 people are registered for the workshop from across the North, including Fort Simpson,

Fort Smith, Yellowknife, Trout Lake and Hay River, but there is still plenty of space for more, said Duford.

With five teachers, participants will be able to learn at their own level. There will be optional classes like bucket drumming, penny whistle, beginner guitar and fiddle tuning.

Duford said long lunch hours have been deliberately scheduled so workshop participants will be able to enjoy some of the many events taking places during the weekend, like Polar Pond Hockey and the fishing derby.

Registration for the workshop begins at 8:45 a.m. on March 16 at Ecole Boreale.

The fiddling performance will be held at NWT Centennial Library from 7:30-9 p.m. on March 16. Admission is by donation with all proceeds to support the Kyle Crook Fiddle Association.

— Angele Cano