‘Celtic Fiddle Festival’ at The Barns at Wolf Trap by Christina Marie Frank


While Wolf Trap is largely known for its summer venue – The Filene Center, The Barns at Wolf Trap should not be overlooked if you’re looking for a really good concert. The intimate yet lofty space allows for a personal feel between the audience and musicians. With a chill in the air and a warm cup of tea in hand, the set-up for Celtic Fiddle Festival was just right for a fall evening.

Photo by Mark Savage.

Photo by Mark Savage.

Celtic Fiddle Festival isn’t a “festival” exactly, but rather quartet of 3 fiddles and a stellar acoustic guitar. Being from an Irish family I’d associated Celtic fiddle with strictly Irish music. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it has roots in both Quebec and Brittany (a small Celtic region in France). In fact, showcasing the blend of cultures within the Celtic tradition is what Celtic Fiddle Festival is all about. Each fiddler brought with him a distinct, yet recognizably Celtic style to the stage, in both his playing and sense of humor. These gentlemen were just as talented with audience engagement as they were at playing their instruments. Two hours flew by and it felt like twenty minutes.

Kevin Burke, The Irish player, and original founder of the band, draws the audience in with his authentic Irish storytelling and witty jokes, he primes you to hear his lively Irish reels, while Frenchman Christian Lemaître brings the moodier and more intricate sounds of Brittany. The most surprising of the three was French Canadian André Brunet who accompanied his fiddle playing with feet stomping, so impressive it was like watching Riverdance in a chair; in fact it was hard to stay seated, his music was so enticing I wanted to get up and dance. Not to be overlooked is Nicolas Quemener, a guitarist from Brittany, whose fingers were so quick it was hard to follow as he blended seamlessly with all three fiddlers.

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While the first half of the show allowed for each fiddler to show off his talent individually, the second half featured all three fiddles at once. The night ended with the song “Music for a Found Harmonium,” a song that allowed the musicians to do both, giving each play a solo bit while collectively playing as a whole  As delightful as they were individually, there was no comparison; together these three musicians are spectacular. At the end of the night I bought a CD. I should have bought two.

Celtic Fiddle Festival played for one night only at The Barns at Wolf Trap on October 16. 2013. To find a future performance at The Barns, visit their website.


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