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Sunday Fiddle Festival at Skye
SO. CARTHAGE -- New England Celtic Arts will present the Franklin County Fiddlers, the Abbott Hill Ramblers and the Pineland Fiddlers at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center at 3 p.m. this Sunday.
The event is the under the leadership of the three directors of the well know Maine youth groups, Steve Muise, Ellen Gawler, and Chris Prickitt.
Steve Muise created and founded the Franklin County Fiddlers program in 1993. He was searching for a way to motivate his orchestra students and it seemed natural to blend his “alternative styles” string playing into a group that can perform and explore a variety of non-classical string playing. He grew up playing jazz and fiddle music and started with a group at Mt. Blue Middle School. Steve had the opportunity to attend an ASTA summer strings workshop the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and was inspired by the group “The Calgary Fiddlers.”
The first groups were open to all students in grades 7-12, but after the number of participants started to grow, Steve started to audition for the high school group. This format is still in place today, with auditions each spring for the next year’s fiddlers. The middle school program is open to all interested students without audition. This gives the students an opportunity to experience the variety of teaching styles and techniques used in FCF.
The Abbott Hill Ramblers under the mentor-ship of Dexter Middle School teacher Chris Prickitt (himself an experienced performer and long-term member of the popular band Evergreen), are composed of middle and high school students from S.A.D. 46. The program has been going strong since the fall of 2000, kick-started by a Century 21 grant to promote after-school activities. In their early years, they also received significant financial support from the Bluegrass Music Association of Maine. The program is now a legitimate S.A.D. 46 extra-curricular activity.
The Pineland Fiddlers is a touring ensemble of children age eight to 16 who play traditional fiddle music from Maine and Canada. All are students of Ellen Gawler one of Maine’s top folk fiddlers, and most also study classical violin at the Pineland Suzuki School. They perform throughout Maine at fairs, festivals, concerts and dances and their big, lively fiddle-orchestra sound has impressed crowds at venues such as the Chocolate Church in Bath, the Common Ground Fair, the L.L. Bean concert series, Johnson Hall Live, the Franco-American Heritage Center and the Kingfield POPS and the Skye Theater. They toured Ireland this past summer, and in the summer of 2007, they were invited to play in Turkmenistan. They have traveled twice to Quebec City to perform and study with traditional Quebecois fiddlers
Skye Theater is located three miles west of East Dixfield village at 2 Highland Dr. off Winter Hill Road and Rt. 2 in South Carthage. For reservations, call Skye Theatre at 562-4445. Suggested ticket price is $15 each, $35 family, or by donation.