Teacher's Pets
at Judique Community Centre, Judique, NS
(13 October 2003)

This concert could easily have been held every night of Celtic Colours. It became the favorite of all the shows I saw in 2003 -- perhaps because of my Cape Breton bias, but there were a few mainlanders in this show!

This was a tribute concert to one of the most respected music instructors in Nova Scotia: Stan Chapman. The line-up for the concert is only a small list of the many, many fine fiddlers he's taught. And it became apparent as the night went on that Stan doesn't teach music, he teaches students, and teaches them to love the music in their own style.

On stage at the beginning was a funny skit where the teacher stood before a beginners class of idlers -- I mean, fiddlers. We were told to transport ourselves back to the beginning, and the squeaks and squeals from the learners' fiddles brought a great roar of laughter from the crowd. By the end of the concert there wasn't any doubt that these musicians had come a long way since then.

Stan was up and down to the stage, speaking and playing and mingling with his former students, but for the most just letting them fly on their own. Each girl -- they all happened to be girls -- were featured in fiddling solos and some stepdanced to the music of the others, while some shared keyboard duties. I liked that, and with this format, the audience had a pretty good look at how a house ceilidh might run if you had all these players in one house for a few hours.

The "girls" were Natalie MacMaster, Wendy MacIsaac, Kendra MacGillvary, Jackie Dunn MacIsaac, Stephanie Wills and Mairi Rankin. If some of the "boys" in the class had been present it would have included Glenn Graham, Rodney MacDonald, Ashley MacIsaac and Neil Beaton, all Route 19ers. The other male present on stage besides Stan was Celtic Colours house musician Dave MacIsaac, who took and gave some ribbing with co-host Jackie Dunn MacIsaac.

The whole night was one of music, fun, laughter and serious moments when the girls tried to express what their lessons from Stan meant to them. What they lacked for in words they made up for with performance. For those of you aware of the goosebump factor, I'll tell you it was in force this night.

It was an absolutely wonderful concert with a night full of Cape Breton /Antigonish fiddling and I couldn't think of a serious criticism of the night. The sound was good, the concert moved along at a good pace, the performers glowed and all was right with the world for several hours in Cape Breton.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 17 January 2004