The fiddle isn’t exactly the first instrument that comes to mind when you think of teens hitting the stage to rock out together.
But for Coastline, the Victoria-based youth ensemble, the bowed string instrument has given them a foundation on which to meld a traditional sound with a contemporary feel.
“I absolutely love working with youth,” says artistic director Ivonne Hernandez, herself a Juno award-winning fiddler.
“They learn so quickly and they’re so excited about playing challenging tunes. I need to keep one step ahead of them and try and find cool tunes that I know they’re going to like, yet still maintain some of the tradition.”
With two full-length studio albums under their belt – 2014’s Coastline and 2017’s High Drive – the 16-member troupe, nominated for two Canadian Folk Music Awards, has set their sights on travelling to Ireland later this month.
Taking their West Coast fiddle vibe to the home of the tiny string instrument with the big sound, Coastline will perform and collaborate with other musicians, attend workshops and tour the countryside.
“I’m very excited to bring them to Ireland,” Hernandez says. “They’re going to have an amazing experience.”
To get there, the group has set the stage for a special fundraiser show, Reaching for Ireland, happening June 9 at First Church of Christ, Scientist (1205 Pandora Ave.).
Joining the youth ensemble is Irish singer songwriter Terry Boyle and songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Anne Louise Genest, as well as Hernandez.
Like many in the group, 16-year-old Soli Callo started with taking private fiddle lessons with Hernandez. Callo credits her teacher with building her confidence onstage, and gaining knowledge about the fiddle that has improved her skills on the strings.
“It’s interesting that a lot of youth don’t really play fiddle or know about the fiddle. You say ‘Oh I play the fiddle’ and they’re kind of like, ‘What? Why?’” Callo says. “I don’t do any other group sports … so it’s really nice to have a little group of friends.”
To Hernandez, Coastline is her “pride and joy” – one she considers the future of music. “[Fiddle music] is an oral tradition and this is a tradition that needs to be passed along to future generations.”
Reaching for Ireland kicks off at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow (June 9).
Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets (adults $20/students $15) are available at Long & McQuade, Ivy’s Bookshop and Out of Ireland.