A Nanaimo fiddle ensemble’s debut album earned the youths a national folk music award.
Fiddelium, a group of 13 youths between 12 and 18 years old, were named as the Young Performers of the Year at the 18th annual Canadian Folk Music Awards in Vancouver last month.
Olivia Crowhurst and Ben Rainer both said they were surprised and shocked when they heard the group’s name announced.
“I didn’t even believe it for the first three seconds,” said Crowhurst.
She and Rainer accepted the award with fellow fiddlers Ava Shaw and Norah Figueira, and said none of them thought they were going to win.
“We didn’t put out the album thinking we were going to win the Canadian Folk Music Award,” Shaw said. “We were proud that, as a group, we managed to get to the level where not only were we nominated, but won.”
Rainer credits the achievement to the group’s directors, Trish and Geoff Horrocks.
“Trish crafts pretty much all the arrangements we play by hand,” he said. “She’s able to tailor to the group and how we play and how we interact with each other and our skill sets … We’re able to have this really complementary music with our style of playing and our expertise. And it all blends really well together.”
Most members of Fiddelium are students of classical music and bring a high level of technical skill to the study of traditional folk music, noted a release from Horrocks.
Their self-titled debut album was recorded during the pandemic, and provided not only a great source of pride for the musicians but allowed them to keep playing during a time when public performances were not allowed. It features 12 tracks, including a collaboratively composed track by the ensemble, as well as music from Canada, the United States, Ireland, Scotland and Finland.
In 2019 and 2020, the fiddle group was also selected as the winners of CBC’s Canadian Music Class Challenge, competing against more than 300 music programs across the country.
Fiddelium will perform their annual year-end show at the Port Theatre on May 18, featuring the Island Consort Chamber Choir.
Ticket information for the performance can be found at www.porttheatre.com.