An Evening with the Fiddlers and Fàrsan

Franklin County Fiddlers season is ramping up, and last night we got to go watch the Fiddlers perform, followed by a performance by a touring Celtic group: Fàrsan. They’d come and done a workshop with the Fiddlers before the performance, and I was really impressed with the show they all put on.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I did not grow up a fan of fiddle music. My musical background is way more centered in jazz and orchestra. Fiddle music, to a person used to improv and complex orchestration, often comes across to me as repetitive. Same with Celtic music. If it weren’t for the enthusiasm Mr. Muise (Tomas’s teacher) has for the genre, I don’t think there’s a way I would have normally come to like it.

And yet somehow I find myself really enjoying it and beginning to appreciate the nuances of it. It’s a big testament to how infectious a true love of something can be, as well as how much it helps to become familiar with something before you dismiss it off hand. Too often, I think we end up missing out on opportunities to love something just because the first impression wasn’t the best, or because we judge it before we have a chance to truly pay attention to it.

Fàrsan was a fantastic group, for example. It’s a quartet: vocalist, flute/bagpipes, pianist, and a fiddler. They played for around an hour, covering songs from lullabyes to jigs, and they were all amazing. We were in a fairly small auditorium, and Denisa and I were on the front row, so it felt like we were right there in the thick of things. The songs were all sung in Gaelic (I think?), and the group did a great job giving the context for the music. What it meant, where it came from, etc.

And the more I go to these concerts and listen to fiddle music, the more I’m able to appreciate the skill level that goes into it. It was fun this year to see Tomas be so much more at ease with the performance aspect of it all, a contrast that was easy to see since there were some members of Fiddlers who were performing for just the second time. Once you can get to the point that you’re not just playing a series of connected notes, but playing actual music with meaning and feelings, it’s such a step up. Now that I’ve been to more performances in this genre, I’m able to get into it much more.

Anyway, I wanted to thank Fàrsan for stopping by our high school as part of their first American tour. I thoroughly enjoyed their set, and I encourage you to give them a listen. Here’s a link to their bandcamp page, and a YouTube video they did not too long ago.

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