The country’s top 33 fiddlers clashed in a high-strung battle for the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Championship in Abbotsford over the weekend.
“I’m quite blown away by the competition. It’s very exciting that the calibre is so high,” said Daniel Lapp, this year’s recipient of the CGM’s lifetime achievement award.
Saturday’s championship at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium was an invitation-only event representing the best players drawn from across Canada. The judges base their scoring on four elements: pitch, timing, style and danceability.
Surrey’s 20-year-old Lia Gronberg and her brother, Kai, were two of B.C.’s representatives. Both have been fiddling for over a decade.
Gronberg said she was finding the competition stressful.
“The judges have a hard time picking who they want for the finals because everyone is at the same level.”
Mike Sanyshyn, an ex-competitor and judge, has been mentoring the Gronberg siblings since their youth and describes the pair as musical prodigies.
“They were just born with it. They were excelling at such a young age and just taking over their categories and competition and just winning everything.”
Kai took fifth place at the tournament, an impressive feat since fiddling has traditionally been dominated by the eastern provinces, according to Sanyshyn.
Sanyshyn himself is the only B.C. player to ever place in the top three, but he said the West Coast provinces have been closing the talent gap in the last decade.
Ethan Harty of Alberta notched first place at this year’s competition.