The feel for fiddling
Sixth annual Camp Calvin held in St. Edouard
Friendships were formed and much fun was had at the sixth annual Camp Calvin Fiddle Camp, but above all else, was the love and enjoyment of music.
“You learn so much about the feel of fiddle music,” said Monika Schaefer, a first-time camp participant who hailed from Jasper, of the experience. For Schaefer, there was nothing like listening to the fiddling of the “world class” instructors and getting to jam with people of all skills. It was like experiencing a second childhood, she said, adding that her reaction was, “You get to play? Play all day? It’s just fun. I feel like a kid.”
Last year, the camp was full, and people had to be put on a waiting list, fiddle instructor and camp namesake Calvin Vollrath said. The fiddling master from St. Paul said that for this year’s incarnation of the camp, he and his wife, Rhea Labrie, decided they should offer two weeks of camp so that more people could participate. This year, 110 people, hailing from as far as Boston, Massachusetts and as close as neighbouring St. Paul, made their way to the St. Edouard Renewal Centre for fiddle, guitar and piano instruction from master musicians like Vollrath, Gordon Stobbe, Daniel Gervais, Kimberley Holmes and more.
In the evening, everyone would jam, and Schaefer noted the “evening concerts alone were worth the price of admission” for the camp.
Those evening group performances were an amazing, positive experience, said Vollrath, adding, “There’s no egos. Nobody’s better than anybody else. You can feel that from everyone.”
Participants ranged in age from six to 80 plus, and from beginner to advanced skill levels. On the last day of the camp, students gave their own light-hearted performances, with offerings such as I’m My Own Grandpa and The Last Saskatchewan Pirate. Three young men, Matthew Gervais, Kai Gronberg and Ray Knorr, gave a serious performance that they interrupted for Knorr to tie his shoelace, before performing the last soulful strains of the song. Sarah Hubbard from Boston teamed up with Jane Cory to do a fast and masterful ditty to much cheers and applause, before emcee and course instructor Randy Foster took to the stage to say to much laughter, “Can you believe it? When these girls rolled into St. Paul – car trouble – they’d never played before. Week one, folks!”
At the end of the Fiddler’s Idol, Labrie bid everyone an emotional farewell, thanking people for coming and noting it was tough to see them all go. The last day of camp is typically a hard one for people, noted Vollrath afterwards, saying people cried over breakfast at having to say goodbye.
But Labrie was quick to bring back the fun, sending everyone on a “scavenger hunt” for 55 items scattered in and around the centre. “I’ll give you a hint,” she said of the scavenger items. “They’re grey, they fold and they’re the size of your butt.” People broke out into laughter before they filed out to find the chairs, pack up and get going, as the strains of a lone fiddler noodling around with his instrument filled the air.
“Hope to see you back again next year,” said Labrie.
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