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Local fiddler captures national title

Eric Provencher takes top spot at the Grand North American Fiddling Championships in Alberta

Oshawa-born fiddler Eric Provencher recently captured the Grand North American Fiddling Championships in Radway, Alberta. Provencher, who now teaches abroad in China, previously captured the title nine years ago. (Photo supplied)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa-born fiddler Eric Provencher likely had a bit of deja vu recently.

Provencher took the top spot at the Grand North American Fiddling Championships, held July 20 to 22 in Radway, Alberta.

However, this wasn’t the first time he’s achieved this honour. He previously competed in and won the championships almost a decade ago.

“I’ve only competed at it that one other time, nine years ago. I was fortunate to win at that time,” he tells The Oshawa Express. “Nine years later, we decided to take another road trip out west.”

Provencher, now 26, started fiddling when he was about seven years old.

“My grandfather played various styles of fiddling,” he says.

He explains that fiddling is one of the few musical traditions in Canada, and has many subgenres.

The Oshawa native started competing when he was nine years old and has travelled across the country.

“That’s pretty much what I did every summer,” he says.

Now living in China, he is a teacher at an international Ontario high school.

However, he returns to his home country every summer and felt the desire to get back into the swing of things.

“I haven’t been competing for a while. I definitely prepared a lot for this one, I was coming out of a bit of retirement,” he says.

For the Grand North American Fiddling Championships, competitors play what Provencher considers the ‘old-time style’ of the fiddling.

“It comes from a variety of fiddlers such as Graham Townsend and Ward Allen. They are behind the force of the old-time style,” he says.

In the preliminary round of the competition, fiddlers are expected to play a waltz (in 3/4), a jig (in 6/8) and a reel (in 4/4).

Within the final round of the competition, fiddlers have their choice of the song.

Provencher played Red River Blues by Andy de Jarlis, a well-known Canadian Metis fiddler.

While winning the championships is certainly a feather in his cap, Provencher says the experience is something he has missed.

“It’s always an amazing feeling to go there and meet and see all the competitors again. I haven’t seen them in years,” Provencher says. “It’s a competition, but you’d be surprised at how friendly everybody is.”

He hopes to compete again next summer.

“Definitely I’d like to get back into it. I’ve been focusing more on my education career.”

While working in China as a music and physical education teacher, Provencher jokes that he tries to teach his students about two Canadian traditions, fiddling and hockey.