As a 12-year veteran of the violin, Tuli Porcher jokes that she switched to cello so she could sit down when she plays. But the Grade 12 Oak Bay High student also likes the lower sound of the instrument, and with it she’s making waves on the local music scene, along with her fellow musicians in the B.C. fiddle ensemble Coastline.
The group’s roots reach back only about 2 1/2 years. A group of local music students craved more of a challenge and approached Victoria’s own Ivonne Hernandez, a celebrated fiddler who was in Boston after studying at Berklee College of Music, but mulling a return to Victoria.
“I was really excited about it,” Hernandez says.
Under her guidance, the group of 17 talented young musicians – some from as far away as northern B.C. – quickly racked up a variety of achievements and is about to finish a second album.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Porcher says as she prepares for Coastline’s third annual fundraising concert Friday, June 10 at the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre at Oak Bay High. “I like playing fiddle music with all my friends.”
While she also plays and enjoys classical music, this “is a little more lively and fun,” says Porcher, who plans to continue her music studies following graduation, aiming to follow other local music notables like Hernandez and Quinn Bachand to Boston’s Berklee.
“I love how it just brings people up. It’s just an uplifting, happy kind of music. That’s what speaks to me the most,” Porcher says.
While the cello isn’t an instrument typically associated with fiddle music, it has become more prominent in the genre over the last five to 10 years, Hernandez says.
“It’s not just a classical instrument; we can rock out, and we do.”
Friday’s audience can expect music at once joyful and elevating, as the high-energy group of 13 to 21-year-olds showcases some of the most diverse and entertaining Canadian and international fiddle tunes.
Special guests for the evening include Hernandez, plus Hale & Hearty, Sarah Tradewell and Fintan O’Brien.
“It will include all kinds of string music and songs,” Hernandez says.
“There’s music from all over Canada, music from Scotland, Ireland… plus some originals,” including a composition by Coastline member and singer/songwriter Charles Appleton-Owen. “A little something for everyone, really.”
Coastline member and pianist Elijah Marcette-Hitch, currently at Berklee, will also return for the evening. “It’s a really big celebration,” Hernandez says. “All the kids are really stepping up to the challenge too.”
Since winning the Large Fiddle Ensemble award at the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival after being together for only a few months, Coastline has performed at numerous festivals and special events, including two sold-out concerts with the Gettin’ Higher Choir and opening for award-winning band The Fretless, Scottish fiddle/cello duo Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, Quebec phenoms De Temps Antan, and American celtic fiddler Katie McNally Trio.
“They’re all so good, sometimes I forget (some) are only 13 years old,” Hernandez says.
Following the success of their debut self-titled album – which earned two Canadian Folk Music Awards nominations (they lost to Canadian fiddling great Natalie MacMaster) – the group returned to the studio and is recording the final tracks on a second album.
In addition to existing favourites, the audience will enjoy “a special peek” at that, Hernandez says.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors and are available at Long & McQuade, Larsen School of Music, Ivy’s Bookshop and online at go-artist.ca.