Fancy fingers fancy feet

Verch to fiddle, step dance during HCCA concert

Verch to fiddle, step dance during HCCA concert

November 07, 2002|by KEVIN CLAPP

Assembling a community concert schedule is never easy.

Some acts look good on paper, but one viewing of a tape and they get the hook. Others burst forth with infectious energy.

Color April Verch in the latter group, a fact Jane Guyton and the rest of the Hagerstown Community Concert Association talent selection committee discovered when compiling their current season.

"The key is it was well-done," says Guyton, talent selection committee chair. "And that is what we have found with all of our selections."


Friday, Nov. 8, Verch appears in the second HCCA concert of the 2002-03 season. The 7:30 p.m. performance will feature Verch's fiddling and step dancing, backed by a trio of piano, guitar and percussion.

On the road since October, the performer says success at a young age has been more than she could have imagined, though there's never been doubt about her career path.

"It's hard to explain," Verch says from the road. "It's kind of just in my blood. I can't think of anything else I could be doing."

Hailing from Ottawa Valley in Canada, the 24-year-old is already an accomplished fiddler with a large repertoire bouncing between traditional and contemporary.

A former student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Verch has recorded four albums, including her latest, "VERCHuosity." She was named Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion in 1997, and Canadian Open Fiddle Champion in 1998.

Her next disc, untitled but due in March, continues her artistic growth by featuring more original compositions and, for the first time, vocals.

At the album's core, however, remains the fusion of old and new Verch says is critical to her music.

"All traditions have to evolve, and I want to be a part of that," she says. "I want to make sure we don't lose the tradition because if you do, where are you growing from? So it's really important to me to have both."

Verch's performance is in sharp contrast to the September performance by Elizabeth von Trapp. Guyton says Verch is also different stylistically and in scope from later concerts.

The balanced schedule, which later this season will include an old-time band re-creation and a one-man show, represents a concerted effort by the association to reach a wider range of ages and tastes.

"I think when we look over the audience at community concerts we have been, over the last couple of years, very cognizant of the fact our audience is getting older," Guyton says. "We needed to attract young people and families to come."

An outreach program bringing performers in contact with younger people has helped, providing a forum to introduce new fans to the association.

With her mix of traditional, contemporary, Appalachian, Eastern European and Brazilian sounds, Verch's singing and dancing should help broaden the association's audience further.

At least, Guyton says, that is one part of the goal.

"The thing that I like about the concerts we're bringing is it may not be something I like personally," she says. "But overall we're trying to appeal to a broader audience."

If you go ...

Fiddler April Verch, presented by Hagerstown Community Concert Association

Friday, Nov. 8

7:30 p.m.

The Maryland Theatre

21 S. Potomac St.


Tickets cost $32 for adults, $10 for students, and are available at the door. Tickets are good for all HCCA shows, as well as Community Concert Association performances in Chambersburg, Waynesboro and Gettysburg, Pa., and Westminster, Md.

For information or tickets, call 301-739-0587, 301-733-7842 or 301-582-2734.

Other performances in the Hagerstown Community Concert Association 2002-03 season are:

  • Monday, Jan. 13 - Mr. Jack Daniel's Original Silver Cornet Band re-creates a Lynchburg, Tenn., concert as it would have been presented in 1892.

  • Tuesday, April 8 - "Mark Twain and the Laughing River," starring Jim Post.

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