First-rate fiddler at Frank Venables

“If you’re playing classical it’s the violin and when it’s folk you call it a fiddle"

First-rate fiddler at Frank Venables

Daniel Gervais has been practicing the violin almost as long as he can remember, and he’ll be sharing his vast experience with an audience in Oliver.

Beginning as a practicing pianist at the age of four, he recalled a memory from age five, when he was sitting around a campfire in Northern Alberta where an elder fiddler was playing.

“I was mesmerized by that moment and told my mom, ‘I want to play the fiddle,’” he said. “It’s such a versatile instrument. You can make it really sound like the human voice. And if you’re playing fiddle tunes, it makes you want to dance and have a good time, it’s the life of the party.”

The name taken on by the instrument, whether it’s referred to as a violin or fiddle, generally depends on the style of music its making.

“If you’re playing classical it’s the violin and when it’s folk you call it a fiddle,” he said. “The fiddle dances; the violin sings.”

Gervais embraces both stlyes of the instrument and uses either name to refer it. He also puts forth strong elements of folk into his music.

“That’s why I named one of my albums, Endless Possibilities, because you’re always humbled by music. Whenever you think you’ve finally achieved something, you realize there’s still so much more left to learn.”

Gervais was an accomplished musician by the time he graduated high school. He had already released two albums, competed in the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship twice, where he placed in the top 11 in 2004 while he was still a teen. Gervais also scored the highest mark in the country for Conservatory Canada’s Grade 8 violin exam.

By that point, he felt ready for university. Gervais spent four years earning a degree in music at the University of Alberta, and then another two years to earn a Masters of Music in Classical Performance.

“My graduate studies was very rewarding,” he said, alluding to his thesis which required him to perform standards of the classical repertoire.

“It goes beyond playing it note-for-note, it must be performed at a professional standard,” he said, adding that simply playing a song note-for-note would be like reciting the words of a poem without applying any expression.

“It’s about playing it the right style.”

Upon completing his musical education, Gervais continues to write and perform music, and he now delivers education as an instructor at MacEwan University.

He’ll be taking a break from school to perform at the Frank Venables Theatre in Oliver on Dec. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Filling out his trio will be guitarist Clinton Pelletier and Keith Rempel on upright bass. Rempel’s masterful abilities on the bass are found to be even more impressive after learning that he’s a blind performer. And playing alongside Pelletier keeps Gervais connected with one of his earliest inspirations.

“I’ve been playing with Clinton for 15 years, his dad is a great guitarist who used to play alongside my fiddle idol Calvin Vollrath.”

The show will feature Gervais’ original compositions as well as old time favourites.

For non-members of the South Okanagan Concert Society, tickets cost $20 and those under the age of 17 are invited for free. Tickets available at Beyond Bliss in Oliver, Imperial Office Pro in Osoyoos and at the door.