In 1973, the CBC aired a television documentary called The Vanishing Cape Breton Fiddler eulogizing the death of the island’s traditional culture.
A group of Cape Breton music enthusiasts including Father John Angus Rankin, Frank MacInnis, Father Eugene Morris, Anne Marie MacDonald, Jeannette Beaton, Archie Neil Chisholm, Rod Chisholm, Joey Beaton, and Ray MacDonald, among others, decided that Cape Breton fiddle culture wasn’t ready to be waked just yet and met as a result of a letter sent out by Frank MacInnis.
One July weekend in 1973, thanks the group’s efforts, over 130 Cape Breton fiddlers arrived in Glendale and performed before an audience of several thousand one of the most talked about concerts ever given on the island.
Preparation for the 1973 festival led to the creation of the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association, and its main mandate to preserve and promote traditional Cape Breton fiddle music. Since then, the association has provided workshops and opportunities for its members to learn new tunes and techniques, published tunes written by its members, and provided venues for musicians to perform for thousands of people.
The Association also sponsors the annual Festival of Cape Breton Fiddling at the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts at St. Ann’s.
The 2011 Festival is scheduled for Saturday, August 20, and Sunday, August 21.
The schedule for Saturday, August 20, includes afternoon workshops in fiddle, piano, and stepdance, run concurrently and at a cost of $15 per workshop. Instructors for the fiddle workshops are Boyd MacNeil (Beginner Fiddle), Jennifer Roland (Intermediate Fiddle), and Kyle MacNeil (Advanced Fiddle). The instructors for the other workshops are Leanne Aucoin (Piano), Lisa Gallant (Beginner Stepdance), and Melody Cameron (Advanced Stepdance).
Events for the remainder of the day include the Buy Your Own BBQ, 5 pm to 6 pm, and a jam session with free admission from 6 pm to 10 pm.
On Sunday, it’s the Gala Concert from 2 pm to 7 pm featuring, as the Association’s website phrases it the best of local and international talent all for just $10 admission.
Full concession facilities are available though concert times, and there will be plenty of free parking. For further information, please call: 1-800-565-0000 or visit capebretonfiddlers.com/.