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Nanaimo youth fiddle ensemble Fiddelium recording first album

Fiddlers recording their parts one at a time in observance of COVID-19 safety
Nanaimo’s Fiddelium fiddle ensemble, seen here at a fiddle workshop with visiting instructors Gordon Stobbe and J.J. Guy this summer, is recording its first album. (Photo courtesy Trish Horrocks)

A Nanaimo youth fiddle ensemble is recording its first album.

This month Fiddelium, the 15-member group that last month won CBC’s Canadian Music Class Challenge for its rendition of Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom, got to work putting to tape its repertoire from the past year.

“I’ve recorded stuff at home before but it’s really cool that we get to make a CD because then we can share the music,” said 14-year-old Fiddelium member Ava Shaw.

Work on the 12-track CD is being done in the home recording studios of Fiddelium co-directors Geoff and Trish Horrocks. The album will include music by artists like Oscar Peterson and Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste, as well as an original composition. Geoff said the project has the young musicians excited and focused and he hopes to have the recording completed by the end of March.

“Half the CD will be recorded in our studios here and the other half of the CD is going to be recorded live when we get back into Cedar Hall,” said Geoff, referring to the group’s usual rehearsal space. “That’s the plan right now, anyway. So it’ll have a little bit of a different sound.”

The fiddlers, who range in age from 10 to 15, are recording their parts separately in-studio while playing along to a backing track featuring piano and guitar. The individual recordings will then be edited together to create the full ensemble sound.

Fiddelium member Samantha Hopkins, 11, said the recording experience wasn’t too foreign, as she usually practises to a backing track, but the sound was much different.

“It was very cool because you had to put studio headphones on which block out all the noise,” she said. “So instead of hearing your usual violin you hear a purified treated sound. So it’s very different and it was kind of fun.”

Geoff describes the recording as “a snapshot in time.”

“COVID has kind of shut our group classes down so we’re not really meeting in person now,” he said. “So we thought this would be a good chance to bring kids into the studio one at a time and capture a CD.”

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