Celtic Music School is back

After a year's break, the 12th annual Coast School of Celtic Music returns to Roberts Creek July 9 to 13.

"We took a year off to think about what we were doing and what needed changing," said Ann Law, founder and a current director. "We heard from people who asked us, 'please do it again.'"

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This family friendly event offers a week of music to approximately 170 participants with outstanding musician instructors in the Celtic genre from Canada, Scotland, Ireland and U.S.New to the summer school this year are Lori Watson on Scottish fiddle, Niamh ni Charra on Irish fiddle, Innes Watson from Scotland on guitar and Kimberley Fraser from Cape Breton leading the piano class.Returning instructors include Gordon Stobbe on fiddle and Mairi Campbell, who will lead the folk choir.

One of the changes that had to be made by the newly-formed society (prior to this year the school was a part of the Coast String Fiddlers Society) was to better manage the smaller children who need a lot of supervision, especially at lunchtime. Michelle Bruce will now work with the smaller ones, aged six to 10, along with other musicians, including Zavellennah whose expertise comes from her fiddle camp on Saltspring Island. More than 30 kids have signed up. Organizers hope that Fiddles and Skittles, the program for that age group, will do much to build their confidence and inspire their interest in playing the fiddle.

It's essential to have younger kids involved in order to raise the next group of young musicians, Law pointed out.

"That's the essence of keeping things going," Law said.

She added how the original Coast String Fiddlers are now on their third generation.

This year's popular Trad Band class for advanced players aged 15 to 25 will be managed by Iain Fraser from Scotland, Andy Hillhouse from Canada and the Coast's own homegrown, former Coast String Fiddler James M. Law.

Also new will be two young accomplished players of the Scottish harp, to embellish the traditional band sound. This group of 37 youth from Scotland and Canada will get to know one another in an informal setting and will also be visited by the Valley Youth Fiddlers from Smithers. The class prepares a repertoire of traditional tunes and songs arranged in a big band setting that culminates in an energetic performance on Saturday, July 14, at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons as part of the Showcase of the Performing Arts (SOPA).

Most of the music classes are full though there are still openings in guitar and folk choir. The music school's directors include many of the stalwart former organizers and Law expects no problem with finding former volunteers to help out during the sessions.

"The Coast is always willing to pitch in," she said.

The Friday night Gala Concert that includes performances from most of the instructors and some students will take place once again at the Rockwood Pavilion in Sechelt on Friday, July 13. This one-of-a-kind, magical show can easily fill the huge pavilion and tickets usually sell out early. Tickets to the Gala Concert are on sale now at Laedeli in Gibsons and Medichair in Sechelt.

The Saturday night (July 14) Trad Band performance in Gibsons is part of SOPA's program and those tickets are available at Gaia's Fair Trade, Laedeli and Sechelt Visitor Centre. For more information, e-mail coastschoolofcelticmusic@gmail.com or call 604-886-4768. See www.coastcelticmusic.com for more about this year's musician instructors.

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