Saline Fiddlers entertain MCCC

On Saturday, March 20, a group of high school students from Saline, Mich. performed their musical talent at the Meyer Theater.

The Saline Fiddlers revealed rhythm and humor to the audience through alternative styles of melody and dance.

Their music is an engaging assortment of classical, jazz, swing, Celtic, and bluegrass, which has been publicized in as illustrious places as the White House.

With 475 seats purchased, the Fiddlers had the Meyer Theater nearly filled.

Between their scales and measures, the students revealed further talent as choreography and clogging were infused. By utilizing the walkways of the theater for dancing and brief comedic skits, the Fiddlers engaged the audience.

From the beginning of the show to the end, the students kept the energy high and positive. The string instruments accented popular songs such as works from the Beatles, Michael Jackson, and the Chordettes, and revealed some of their own original tunes.

With such a unique blend of influences, it seems hard to pinpoint an accurate genre.

Ian Waters, a senior at Saline High School and violinist for the Saline Fiddlers, even mentioned the impossibility of directly defining their style.

“We have Michael Jackson, the Beatles, traditional bluegrass,” Waters said. “There are so many different things in one place it’s extremely hard to define it.”

Another unusual blend that the Fiddlers strive to define is the line between stardom and reality.

The group began in 1994 when Bob Philips, the music teacher for the Saline schools, began a fiddling class for the middle school. Upon the hope of continuing throughout high school, the Saline Fiddlers was created.

“We were then called the Fiddlers Philharmonic, but nobody knew how to say Philharmonic so we became the Saline Fiddlers at that point,” Artistic Director Ben Culver explained. “So we’ve grown ever since to where now we’ve got students in all grade levels.”

And grow they did, performing at the White House on three separate occasions, and performing at George W. Bush’s presidential inaugural ball. They have toured the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Germany, and opened for many other famous artists.

Instead of being swept away by the publicity, Culver tries to keep the kids in other activities and pushes them to follow any career choice whether it is fiddling or not.

“Our goal has always been to give them as much professional experience as possible without any of the garbage that can come along with that,” Culver said.

“So we could certainly take it further but it would come at the expense of losing balance. Our kids are all pretty involved in different things so it would be a really tough choice for them at a time where I don’t think it’s an appropriate choice.”

Violinist, singer, and clogger, Desi O’Brien said that though performing is her passion, she has other plans for her career choice.

“I plan to keep playing the violin somehow during college at least,” O’Brien said. “I’m hoping to go into biology or nursing, something in the medical field, but I definitely want to keep playing the violin.”

“I’m probably going to follow a similar course. I’m also interested in the life sciences, and in addition I definitely want to keep playing my instrument,” Ian Waters added.

The Saline Fiddlers are now working on their ninth album and the group tours the U.S. regularly. For more information or tour dates, visit their Web site at www.SalineFiddlers.com