Fiddle Orchestra of Western Mass

located in downtown Northampton

About

Click and Read our — Values and Goals

The Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts is an amateur orchestra made up mostly of fiddle players but also players of other instruments. The orchestra gives fiddlers and others the opportunity to play together as amateurs under the guidance of a professional musician in order to improve our skills, more deeply enjoy our hobby, nourish camaraderie, and share our enjoyment of music with the community.

Conductors

The orchestra is conducted by Annika Amstutz, who regularly plays and performs with several bands and other groups in the area.  She also teaches fiddle in the Bluegrass, Irish, and New England styles. This season, Spring-Fall 2021, Annika is joined by Mia Friedman. Mia is is a virtuosic fiddler and a singer, composer and educator.

Members and Instruments

The Fiddle Orchestra of Western Massachusetts is open to adults of all ages and teens.

  • Fiddle/violin, viola, cello, bass
  • Guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukelele, accordion, flute, penny whistle…and more…what do you play?
  • A limited number of percussionists to provide extra rhythm!
  • The director will encourage orchestra members to try harmonies and rhythms throughout the season to spur our confidence and stretch our skills with the goal of creating a cohesive, nice-sounding whole.

Repertoire

The orchestra plays tunes from the New England, American South, Celtic, Quebecois, and Scandinavian heritages, along with original compositions by contemporary musicians.

Seasons

3 seasons a year — Fall, Spring, and Summer. (Members pick and choose to join any or all seasons.) 

History

Two friends, Becky Shannon and Alice Yang, had been playing fiddle together for several years. They heard about a fiddle orchestra for amateurs in Vermont and thought, “Why not here in our own Western Mass?” They organized volunteers, hired two solid-gold professional fiddlers – David Kaynor and Annika Amstutz – as directors, found rehearsal space, and on Thursday, September 14, 2017, FOWM was born. The orchestra and the world lost our beloved David Kaynor in June of 2021. This season, Spring-Fall 2021, Annika is joined by fiddler Mia Friedman

Here is a quote from David summing up his approach to music, from an interview in the Greenfield Recorder printed on his death —

“We didn’t just perform music and dance, we shared it. There are times and places for performing, but sharing can happen so much more often, and it’s good for us all. Maybe it’s even good for the world.”

Here are photos from some of our previous seasons

Members’ Comments

It was all I expected, plus. I got to pick exactly what I wanted to work on in my own process, and felt no pressure to do anything different from what I wanted.

It far exceeded my expectations. I didn’t know David nor was I aware of his unique ways of developing and presenting a course of study and concert. It all unfolded easily and pleasantly. I also appreciate how receptive he was to suggestions by others when developing the program.

I can’t wait to start again……

I had a great time! This is the perfect group for me. I’ve never done anything like this before and was somewhat apprehensive about joining because I didn’t know what to expect. What I found was a welcoming, supportive group of people in a non-judgmental setting; there was no pressure to do anything other than make the experience personal and make the most of it given your skill level. I really appreciated the support and the mission of the orchestra… I felt right at home from day one.

I felt a pride in myself and our group. Proud of what we had accomplished during our 10 sessions

It was great to get to know new people, learn new tunes and styles, and play so close to home

Join us! We can’t wait to play with you!

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