The MCO Workshops Fiddle Music with Talented Young Musicians in Remote Manitoba Communities

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WINNIPEG, SUMMER (2019) — After yet another enriching season of workshops and outreach in Manitoba’s hospitals, libraries, and penitentiaries, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s Fiddlers on the Loose (FOTL) perform their finale: a multi-week tour of remote communities in Manitoba to play and work-shop fiddle and folk music. There is, of course, already a strong tradition of fiddle music in Manitoba, and our initiative helps to build on the good work of communities as well as the Frontier School Division to sustain and foster that tradition.
This year, the six professional musicians, librarian, and stage manager who make up Fiddlers on the Loose visited Wabowden, Grand Rapids, Rorketon, Skownan, Waterhen, Minegoziibe, Gypsumville, Hollow Water, and Falcon Beach, where our concerts and workshops reached hundreds of youth in schools and community centres.

“It’s uplifting to see the way the Fiddlers program tends to evolve every year,” comments Vicki Young, MCO Managing Director (and FOTL tour van driver). “For instance, thanks to expanded support from the Johnston Group and the Winnipeg Foundation, hundreds more seniors in long-term care and residents of hospitals and hospices were able to enjoy our Artist in Health-care Manitoba concerts.”

“On our northern tour, we were happy to meet with the Frontier School Division’s Fine Arts Coordinator to discuss the future directions of the program,” she continues. “Just as our FOTL tour helps to bring Manitoba’s north and south into dialogue, the tours themselves are, in many ways, the product of dialogue with educators in The Frontier School Division. We expect promising developments in the upcoming years.”

The Fiddlers on the Loose team have had inspiring and adventurous moments on their tours over the years, involving wildlife, broken-down vehicles, and other twists in the road. But their most lasting memories will always be of the jigs, reels, and waltzes we heard and played, as well as the connections we made with young fiddlers. Educators comment on our program’s impact beyond the classroom in cultivating both musical and life skills. We know that the work we do merely serves to support the music programs and traditions that already exist in the Frontier School Division. Red River music continues to enjoy something of a renaissance right now, and Manitoba’s north has some very fine fiddlers and fiddle instructors.

It was a pleasure once again working with them, and we look forward to next year’s tour. See video here.

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