Victoria musicians earn spot at international festival

A Victoria-based string ensemble are off to test the musical ambiance in Aberdeen, Scotland.

A Victoria-based string ensemble are off to test the musical ambiance in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Coastline, a string ensemble of 15 young musicians ranging from ages 13-18, have been selected to represent Canada in the 2015 Aberdeen International Youth Festival.

“It’s a huge honour, and very exciting to be preparing for,” said their coach and mentor, Ivonne Hernandez. Hernandez taught some of these kids in Victoria before she headed off to Boston to complete her musical studies on a full scholarship to the University of Berklee. When they heard she was coming back to Victoria, they asked her to work with them.

“It was at the request of a few kids who wanted a challenge, and to work on tunes that were more complex,” Hernandez explained,  “and they were instrumental in getting other people involved.”

For this group of young musicians, going to Scotland to perform is a highlight on the horizon.

The group sent videos of their playing to the festival’s selection committee, and the Scottish festival’s reaction was an offer to come and play.

“They just love it, they were just gushing about the group,” she said with a laugh, “and I’m really excited for them. A lot of these kids haven’t ever left the country, ever, or maybe even the province. It’ll be a life-changing experience to go halfway across the world to perform and meet other people and to go to the “mecca” of fiddle playing.”

Hernandez, who now has an international career and tours with her band “Fretlass,” is a great role model for Coastline. She holds a music business and performance degree with a focus on string arrangement, is currently on tour in Cuba, and she still finds time in her busy schedule to coach the group and work on its arrangements. Her goal is to help these young musicians become professional performers, which, she says, quite a few of them aspire to.

“They are all such great kids, very smart and motivated and they want to be pushed. Quite a few of them play different instruments and different styles of music as well. It’s a very elite group – they have to be at quite a high level to do the tunes and the arrangements we are doing, and they want this,” she added.

Coastline will be playing in the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival’s Fiddle section on May 2 and 3 (for more information, go to gvpaf.org), a chance for the public to hear this young group of musicians who are on their way to bigger things.

The group will also be holding a fundraising concert in May for their trip to Aberdeen. More information on that can be found on their website, coastlinefiddle.com.