Fiddler helps string in the new year at annual show

December 31, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • Hanna Livingston, 12, of Frostburg, Md., plays the fiddle at the annual Secrest Memorial Sing at Heritage Academy Friday. Livingston is the 2010 Mid Atlantic Grand Fiddle Champion for ages 18 and younger.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — A 12-year-old fiddle player stole the show Friday night at the Secrest Memorial Sing at Heritage Academy.

Hanna Livingston, a seventh grader from Frostburg, Md., was a last-minute addition to the New Year’s Eve program, an annual gospel and bluegrass concert that has been an area tradition since 1980, said Carolyn Everitts, one of the organizers.

Accompanied by the Guilford Station Bluegrass Band, Hanna earned a standing ovation after fiddling her way through embellished versions of “Amazing Grace” and “Softly and Tenderly,” then wowing the audience with faster songs like “Orange Blossom Special” and “Back Up and Push.”

“Now I’ll do a couple on my mandolin,” the young performer said at one point.

In an interview after her performance, Hanna said she started playing classical violin in her school orchestra in fourth grade, but became interested in fiddle music after seeing a video of “Orange Blossom Special” on YouTube.
After that, she got some sheet music for the fiddle and practiced it with her teacher.

She went on to win the Mid-Atlantic Grand Fiddle Championship in the 18-and-under division.

On stage on Friday, she played without sheet music.

“I was kind of winging it on a couple,” she said afterward.

Even the bluegrass band that accompanied her seemed impressed.

“Can someone get me a fire extinguisher for my hand?” one of the band members joked after they finished “Back Up and Push.”

Other acts on the program included the Morning Star Singers and Naomi and the Segos.

They performed in front of a black backdrop decorated with sparkling letters that spelled “HAPPY NEW YEAR,” along with a colorful “2011” and a cross outlined in a rope of lights.

The Morningstar Singers — Everitts, Ann Cunningham and Don Sneckenberger — were the organizers of the event, which they took over after its founder, Shields Secrest, died, Everitts said.

“It’s an alternative for the Christian people to have something to do on New Year’s Eve, because they don’t usually go dancing and they don’t usually drink,” she said. “It’s just a great way to end the year.”

Organizers did not charge admission for the event, but collected a free will offering to help cover the costs of renting the stage and advertising the event, Everitts said.

Two dozen sponsors contributed in advance of the event and were listed on the program.

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