Trent Bruner

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The North Atlantic Fiddle Convention 2008 Print E-mail

Who would have ever thought you would have a chance to meet people like Alastair Fraser, Alan Jabbour, Pierre Schryer, Anne Lederman, Ivan and Vivian Hicks and many other musicians of note in the same setting? The people at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland didn't hesitate to take advantage of this opportunity when offered the chance.

August 3-8, 2008 was a wonderful time for traditional folk fiddle and dance at an international level as the 3rd ever North Atlantic Fiddle Convention took place in St. John's, Newfoundland.  This conference was hosted by Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland in cooperation with the Elphinstone Research Department of the Univeristy of Aberdeen in Scotland, who began the conference in 2001 and hosted it again in 2006.  Canada was the first nation outside the U.K. to host this six day event in 2008 which consisted of instrumental workshops, dacne workshops, seminars, many concerts, formal academic papers and other related presentations.

August 5th was my official date of appearance at this convention.  I had the opportunity to do an academic presentation with Edmonton, Alberta fiddler and independent scholar Rod Olstad on the influence of Norwegian old time (gammaldans) music on fiddle music of the Canadian Prairies.  Rod and I also performed at lunchtime and afternoon concerts for the Scandinavian sections of the convention with the Danish fiddle/guitar duo of Harlad Haugaard and Morten Alfred Horiup, Swedish fiddlers Owe Ronstrom and Karin Erikkson, and Swedish dancers Ingegerd Sigfridsson and Mats Nilsson.  I was also invited by the committee to teach a piano accompaniment workshop the same day.

To be at a conference like this was an honour, but it was also humbling for me as well because when you're sharing the event with people like Brenda Stubbert, Janine Randall, Liz Doherty, the Fiddle Stories Elder Youth Project, Sherry Johnson, Richard Wood and Ward Allan MaDonald, Eric Favreau, Christina Smith and Jean Hewison, Kelly Russell and Liz Carroll, you know you're in with some of the best at what they do, not to mention the names at the top of this article.

What I learned at this convention is that no matter where you live, if you actively share your talents in the traditional folklore scene, and more specifically for me, the larger fiddle community, you not only gain an appreciation for what others do, but you also realize that we are truly in a smaller world than we've ever been before.  In other words, music and dance truly do not know borders. 

The conference organizers also contacted CBC to do interviews with the participants at the NAFCo Convention.  It was a delight for me to be interviewed by CBC Radio 540 Saskatchewan on August 7th after I returned from St. John's to talk about the convention and the recent music activities I have been part of with Colin Grewar on CBC 540's The Afternoon Edition.  Thanks to Colin and Joanne Skidmore of CBC Regina for their interest and for their work with the interview. 

Many salutes go the organizers of the conference, especially the work done by Jean Hewson, Dr. Beverley Diamond and Dr. Anne Guigne of Memorial University.  There will also be a conference CD released by Folkways Alive with a collection of Canadian fiddle and accordion melodies called Bellows and Bows, which was coordinated by Sherry Johnson of York University in Toronto. She invited me to give contributions from Sasktchewan for this CD to be released this fall, and for that I was truly honoured to serve in this fashion.

More news will come in the coming days.  Until then, all the best to you whereever you are!

Musically yours, Trent