Fiddle tunes in the spotlight as Jenna Cyr prepares to launch debut recording
Jenna Cyr is set to launch her debut CD of traditional fiddle music at a special concert on Tuesday, July 21, 7:30 p.m, at the BIS Hall in Charlottetown.
Entitled “Promise”, the CD features 11 tracks of waltzes, jigs, marches reels and strathspeys and was recorded at the Sound Mill studio by Jon Matthews.
Jenna, who is the 12-year-old daughter of Heather and Paul Cyr of Stratford, is looking forward to Tuesday evening. In addition to tunes from the CD, the launch will feature the Fiddle Monsters (a trio of young fiddlers Jenna plays with), fiddler Fiona MacCorquodale, Julian and Annie Kitson, the Havenwood Dancers and Jenna’s teacher, Aaron Crane, as host and accompanist. Admission is at the door; copies of the CD will be available for sale.
“I am excited about the launch, but I am kind of nervous, too, because there is a ton of people I know going to be there and some people are coming from off P.E.I.,” says Jenna. “But I’m looking forward to being on stage with my friends and playing the music — it’s really fun.”
For the CD, Jenna turned to Crane, who has been her fiddle teacher for almost four years, to help her through the process. He suggested she pick her top 45 favourite tunes and, after choosing from those, she then learned some new music for the recording. While she practised and perfected the tunes, Crane worked on the arrangements, decided on the accompaniment and worked out the order of the sets on the CD.
Crane, who is “super-excited” about the launch, says that despite her age Jenna was ready to take on this project.
“She can play tunes that not too many people her age can play and not too many people can play that are older . . . . I just wanted people to hear what she can do because not many people know just what she has learned, especially in the last year.”
Her talent was one of the reasons Crane suggested the name for the CD.
“It has multiple meanings,” he said. “Promise me you’re going to practice, Jenna, and I promise to be there to help you out. And then, of course, it’s that she shows great promise as a musician.”
In addition to her talent, Crane says Jenna has the drive to record a CD. For her part, Jenna says it was a lot of work — one tune, she recalls with a little laugh, required about 20 attempts to get it right — but it was all worth it to see and hear the end product.
However, she says when she started playing the fiddle, dreams of making a CD were not dancing around in her head.
“You know, I didn’t think about that, not at all. I thought ( fiddle lessons) would be just a phase and I would be done in less that a year, but I just loved I and I kept going. I like it because of the rush of being able to make a crowd enjoy the music and clap for you — it just makes me really happy.” Set The Stage
Set in a POW camp in Germany during the First World War, the reworked setting keeps a period feel but avoids gimmick. It also means that performers speak in familiar accents, rather than chasing that ever-elusive Elizabethan elocution.
Rebecca Parent draws us in as Juliet. Her formal comportment, a sort of learned stoicism, is disarmed by the youthful ideals bubbling to her surface. There’s a whiff of wisdom that belies her age, but a rebelliousness that overrules it. I mean, she’s only just met the dude.
Gracie Finley is outstanding as the nurse, Juliet’s confidante. Her comic sense is impeccable and as drama builds, she carries its weight with arresting realism. That injection of comedy digressions into the swelling tension is, I suppose, a hallmark of Shakespeare tragedy.
Jake McNeil brings us a Romeo who is aptly capricious and excitable at the beginning, and exceedingly desperate with each rash move. His performance, too, stirs as the stakes grow.
John Dartt gives complexity to Capulet. Jonathan Widdifield is a real scalawag as Mercutio.
In my softest, most respectful pleb voice, I might suggest the dialogue was at times a little rushed by a few actors under the spell of emotion or chasing naturalism.
Not to the point of slurring, and certainly nothing is missed — particularly thanks to body language — but some of the joy of the verse mightn’t have gotten its due. Again, see opening line. I’m putting this under a much more intense lens than most plays because it’s at the pinnacle of theatre.
What I appreciate here is that for such an ambitious undertaking, the presentation remains tactful and intimate. Director Duncan McIntosh follows the brisk surges of action with elegant, sobering ebbs. Some doubling of roles, especially that of Tybalt and Lady Capulet under Robert Tsonos, also shows great faith in the abilities of the company.
As radio country completed its metamorphosis into rap over in Cavendish, only minutes away, actors were quarrying centuries-old allusions in a markedly different approach to tale-spinning.
The message from the man in the ruff is as potent today as it was 400 years ago: teenagers, don’t do drugs!
What a treat to see such passionate professionals engrossed in the height of their craft.