London fiddler assembles international ensemble for online concert
London fiddler Shane Cook teamed up with the International Symphony Orchestra and groups of young fiddlers from across Canada for a digital concert that will be offered online later this month.
The concert recorded at London’s Aeolian Hall with Shane Cook and The Woodchippers, as well as a chamber orchestra from the symphony based in Sarnia and Port Huron, Mich., will be released for online viewing from Aug. 27 to Oct. 31.
It features music from Be Here for a While, a new album by Shane Cook and The Woodchippers, set for digital release in October.
Cook, a Canadian and North American fiddle champion, said he has been working on the new album for a few years with musicians Emily Flack, Joe Phillips and Kyle Waymouth, “and the pandemic, I suppose, got in the way of the release.”
He was looking for new ways to draw attention to the album, and a concert film with the orchestra grew out of conversations with its executive director, Anthony Wing.
“He’s kind of an ideas guy,” Cook said.
Wing and the orchestra have been creating digital content during the pandemic, including an ISObar Sessions series of videos featuring performances by local musicians and orchestra members.
“We bounced some ideas back and forth and, along the way, we talked about all of the young fiddlers across the country and the possibility of trying to involve some kids from some of the fiddle groups I’ve worked with,” Cook said.
The result was 15 youth fiddle groups across Canada being sent arrangements for one of the pieces, Close Friends, to film in their home communities. Those segments were assembled and will be featured as part of the online performance.
The project was backed by a grant from the non-profit organization, FACTOR, or Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings.
The concert was filmed in late July.
Jerome Summers, the orchestra’s conductor emeritus, conducts a chamber orchestra accompanying Shane Cook and The Woodchippers on songs from the new album, arranged for the symphony by Ben Knorr.
“There’s an energy the ISO brings that we just couldn’t create as a four piece,” Cook said.
It was a massive amount of work, “but I think the result was totally worth it,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a project that I’ve put together. I think it turned out beautifully.”
Cook said he and The Woodchippers haven’t booked any live dates this fall for the album release because of pandemic restrictions.
“It just seemed like too big of a risk,” he said. “What we’ve done is we’ve started booking release concerts in spring of 2022 and, gosh, I hope we can actually do that.”
- with files from Joe Belanger