About the Orchestra
Vermont Fiddle Orchestra is a community orchestra open to all levels and ages of players. No audition is required. 35 to 40 orchestra members meet regularly to rehearse and prepare programs. Our members span several generations and range in experience from beginning level players to professional soloists. The orchestra is centered in Montpelier, Vermont where most rehearsals and some performances occur. Our members come from a variety of musical backgrounds from around the state. Some of us play by ear in the traditional style, and some learn better from written arrangements. Our mission is to provide entertainment and education while preserving the traditional fiddling of Vermont and beyond.
Our Winter 2018 Concert brought back our founder, Sarah Hotchkiss and the orchestra’s original assistant director and arranger, John Mowad who joined us to celebrate the VFO’s 15th anniversary.
The VFO’s Music Director is Peter Macfarlane, fiddle teacher, member of the bands Atlantic Crossing and Frost & Fire, and in his “spare” time, a master builder of lightweight cedar-strip canoes. A more complete bio will be posted here shortly.
David Kaynor was the VFO’s beloved and long-serving Music Director through the 2019 autumn concert when health issues forced him to retire. We were overjoyed to hear that he was recently honored by the Country Dance and Song Society with its 2021 CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award. Read about David and the award.
David began playing fiddle in 1974, and started calling local contra dances in Western Massachusetts around 1980. Over the last three decades, he became increasingly involved as both fiddler and caller in the New England and national contra dance scenes. He has been on staff at Northern Week at Ashokan, taught at Contra Dance Musicians’ Week at the John C. Campbell Folk School and the Northeast Heritage Music Camp in Vermont many times. He has also played for and taught dancing at Pinewoods, Buffalo Gap, Mendocino, the Lady of the Lake, Ogontz, Summer Acoustic Music Week, Suttle Lake, Wannadance Uptown, the Summit School, and myriad other camps, workshops and music events around the country.
ANNOUNCEMENT: We have recently recorded a full-length performance by the VFO, with individual musicians contributing remotely during the Covid 19 pandemic, assembled into an ensemble recording by Music Director Peter Macfarlane. Our Guiding Star, a beautiful air, was composed by Robin Russell and Cynthia Thomas as a tribute to long-time Music Director, David Kaynor. Listen now (about five minutes).
Our board of directors is made up primarily of our members. We are:
The Vermont Fiddle Orchestra was founded in 2003 by Sarah Hotchkiss. And has been going strong ever since. In 2013, the orchestra celebrated its 10th anniversary with a special anniversary concert which featured many of our previous guest soloists. David Kaynor took over as director in September 2013. Over the years we have had the great pleasure to work with a variety of guest soloists including George Wilson, Randy Miller, Pascal Gemme, Gretchen Koehler and Peter Macfarlane.