By Claudia Moscovici
“We consider the man who can fiddle all through one of those Virginia reels without losing his grip, may be depended upon in any kind of emergency,” said the writer and unrivaled wit Mark Twain. While hopefully the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic won’t need to address any emergencies, there’s no doubt that they’re an incredible group of kids, talented in many areas, while drawing crowds locally and nationally—and even internationally—for their music, dancing and contagious ability to have a great time.
If you’re sitting in the audience at one of their performances, it’s hard to resist joining in the fun. In fact, the Fiddlers encourage the young–and the young-at-heart—to clap along and to dance to their tunes, announcing at each of their shows something to the effect, “We’re not an orchestra, we’re a Fiddle group, so we invite the kids in the audience, and the adults too, to come up and dance.” Which is precisely what many are bound to do at Fiddler shows, where you’re likely to see adults tapping their feet or clapping their hands to the beat of the music, while young kids twirl and hop along, imitating the steps of the Fiddler Cloggers, the dancing group of Fiddlers choreographed by Sheila Graziano.
Fiddle music has a longstanding tradition. It originated in 10th century Europe, derived from the “lira” (or lyre), a bow instrument popular in the Byzantine Empire. During the following centuries it spread throughout Europe, becoming particularly popular in Scotland and Ireland. It’s seen a resurgence of popularity in the second part of the twentieth century, when the music of Iain Fraser, Christine Hanson and Amelia Kaminski entertained millions. The success of Irish step dance, Riverdance, on the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, has also increased the worldwide appeal of fiddle music.
In fact, the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic got started in 1994. Since then, generations of Saline High School students have been impressing audiences with their musical talents and the range of their repertoire, which includes American folk fiddle, blue grass, jazz, swing and Celtic songs. While entertaining local audiences in the Greater Detroit area—at libraries, fairs and music festivals—the Fiddlers have also acquired a national and international reputation. They’ve given over a thousand performances in the US, including three times at the White House and twice at the Kennedy Center. They’ve also toured abroad, performing in several cities throughout Great Britain during the summer of 2013.
Given their international reputation, there’s no doubt that the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic are achievers. But when I asked my son Alex, who joined the group this year, what he likes most about being part of the Fiddlers he told me, “They’re a great group. We’re supportive of each other; there’s no competition. We work hard, but we also have a lot of fun.” This is what every parent wants to hear; what every local community loves to support. Talented kids honing their music skills while enjoying themselves, collaborating well, establishing friendships and entertaining audiences far-and-wide. For more information about the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic and their performance schedule, go to http://salinefiddlers.com