Unique, student-led fiddle ensemble set to perform

From left to right, Grace Reynolds, Kylie Taft, Emily Carlson, Shannon Lewinski, Isabelle Hanshue, Mariana Sierra, Macie Levellier at PCHS 2016 Homecoming Parade
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Left to right, Shannon Lewinski, Isabelle Hanshue, and Grace Reynolds taking a break from playing.

Area residents are in for a treat on Saturday, May 6, when the Huron River Revivalists perform a special fundraising concert at White Steeple Stage in Pinckney. This unique music group is a fiddle club that was launched three years ago at Pinckney Community High School by then freshman Grace Reynolds.

Reynolds, now a junior, had been learning and playing traditional fiddle music since she was 6 years old. She participates in the internationally renowned Wheatland Music Festival and Traditional Arts Weekend each year, teaching children and adults how to play traditional music.

Jeff Campbell, orchestra director at the middle school and high school in Pinckney, tapped Reynolds to start up the fiddle club. Knowing of her love for traditional music and her teaching skills, Campbell believed Reynolds would be a perfect leader for the new group.

In its first year, the Huron River Revivalists had three members. Since then, the group has grown to include 11 students, grades 9-12, who play a variety of instruments from the fiddle to the flute, cello, viola, mandolin and Irish bouzouki (Reynolds, who typically plays fiddle with the group, also plays mandolin, guitar, Irish bouzouki, accordion, Irish or tenor banjo and the ukulele).

Reynolds says all interested students are welcome to join, and no audition is required. She says it’s been fun to watch students learn and become excited about the traditional forms of music the group plays, which include American Old Time, Quebecois or French Canadian, and different Celtic styles. They also perform some ragtime music, which is considered to be an American tradition.

One of Reynolds’ favorite things about the Huron River Revivalists is watching fellow students gain confidence as part of the group.

“Some of our members who’ve had classical training and may be worried about not being the best have really excelled at this style of music,” said Reynolds. “Unlike classical, the music we play is not all written on paper. A lot of it involves playing by ear and students realize that, because of the different style, they don’t have to be the best player to sound really good making this kind of music.”

In addition to performing at most of the high school orchestra concerts, the Huron River Revivalists have also performed at Pinckney’s Art in the Park Festival and were featured at the Hamburg Historical Society’s grand reopening last September.

The May 6 concert, at White Steeple Stage in the Community Congregational Church located at 125 E. Unadilla St. in Pinckney, will raise money to purchase music books for the group and to establish a scholarship fund for students wishing to pursue music in college. Tickets are available at the door for $10 each. Children 12 and under and adults 85 and over get in for free.

“Being able to share traditional music with other people is really important to me,” Reynolds said. “It’s really cool to see kids my age interested enough to spend an hour or two a week learning about it, practicing it and keeping it alive.”

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