The Valley Youth Fiddlers perform their original theatre piece, Alaria’s Fiddle, at their opening performance in Smithers on Friday, May 5. The group are bringing their show to Qualicum Beach on May 17. — Submited by Patrick Williston

Sixty-fiddle show features World Music in Qualicum Beach

Smithers fiddlers to perform original theatrical piece at Village Theatre

Sixty fiddlers and even more musicians plan to fill the Village Theatre stage for one of the first ever performances of their original theatrical piece, Alaria’s Fiddle.

Created by the Valley Youth Fiddlers of Smithers, in collaboration with master Canadian fiddlers, the performance tells the tale of a young violin player who lives with her mother on an isolated island lighthouse, and sends out messages in bottles asking for more music to play.

After two years of rehearsals, the group, made up of more than 80 musicians ranging in age from six to 60, is kicking off its first tour of the show, with Qualicum Beach being the sixth stop, on Wednesday, May 17.

Patrick Williston, the tour’s manager and the writer of the story, said he expects the performance at the Village Theatre to be one of the most special on the tour, given the smaller size of the venue.

“We’re going to be filling up that stage, and kind of bursting at the seams,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a very cool performance there by virtue of the fact that it will be really cozy… we’re about half of the audience.”

Williston is a fiddle player himself, but he leaves the performing to his two daughters who will be participating in Alaria’s Fiddle.

The performance includes a narrator, short animations and sound effects in addition to the accompaniment of the fiddlers alongside keyboardists, guitarists, bassists, percussionists and accordion players.

Together, they make for a unique sound, with the fiddles front and centre. A storm sequence makes for a particularly impressive musical display, said Williston, calling it an “orchestrated calamity of sound.”

“It’s terrifying,” he said. “It’s a big and exciting and terrifying moment in the show.”

But perhaps the most unique musical aspect of the show is the inclusion of styles from all over the world.

The show’s story has Alaria, a bored fiddle player, asking for more music to play via messages in bottles. She then receives music from all over the world, including from India, Sweden, the Ukraine, Brazil and beyond.

“Most people, when listening to fiddle music, think of maybe the Cape Breton-style or Irish-style fiddle tunes,” said Williston.

But traditional and popular music from various parts of the world have been adapted for the violin for the show.

It’s offered the musicians a unique opportunity to explore what sounds one can coax out of a violin.

One song from Mali has the fiddlers producing a rhythmic sound, reminiscent of African drums, said Williston.

Alaria’s Fiddle arrives at the Village Theatre May 17, with doors open at 6:30 p.m. tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for children, students and seniors. They can be purchased at the Village Theatre box office, at Mulberry Bush Bookstores and Pacific Brimm Coffee and Tea Co.