Performing Ensembles

Students who continue with their studies through the Suzuki book levels and/or fiddle classes have the wonderful opportunity of joining STEP’s two performing ensembles.

Being a member of an ensemble gives musicians a sense of accomplishment, camaraderie and self esteem. Players learn from each other and are motivated by those who are more advanced. In addition, students develop friendships that will last a lifetime.

STEP Fiddlers

The STEP Fiddlers were founded in 1982 by Christina Smith, to give young Newfoundlanders an opportunity to learn their own traditional music. These young performers specialize in the traditional folk music of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the repertoires of renowned Newfoundland fiddlers, Rufus Guinchard and Emile Benoit.

Students who have taken fiddle classes during the fall and winter semesters can continue through to summer by joining the STEP Fiddlers. Becoming a STEP Fiddlers member is by approval of the STEP Fiddlers Director. Prepare for a summer of gigs and performances at fun Newfoundland festivals and events over the course of 9 weeks of rehearsals during the spring semester with founding director Christina Smith. The STEP Fiddlers is our longest running performance ensemble, since 1982!

$120 for Suzuki students
$145 + family registration fee for non-Suzuki students
$15 uniform fee for first-time members

The group currently has 20 talented fiddlers, ranging in age from 7 to 15. Members of the group also sing and stepdance. Initially the group was not intended to be a performing group; time and experience, though, uncovered the fact that the foot-tapping fiddling of the STEP fiddlers inspired younger kids to want to learn the music, and older people to want to listen to it. The STEP Fiddlers is the only continual program for young string players to learn traditional music.

Approximately 200 kids have learned their own traditional music in this group during the past 25 years. STEP Fiddlers alumni are now teaching fiddle from St. John’s to Victoria. Since the early days, the group has developed into a powerhouse performing ensemble. The STEP Fiddlers’ dynamic stage show incorporates French Newfoundland foot-clogging, a dancing doll, and even some Newfoundland square dancing, while fiddling at the same time. They perform a repertoire of graceful waltzes, touching slow airs and fiery reels, with admirable maturity and finesse. Their skill in playing the Newfoundland jigs and singles is indisputable. In spite of their tender age, they are able to engage the audience with the gamut of musical emotions.The STEP Fiddlers perform at concerts, festivals, benefits and events in the St. John’s area, and have performed for a wide range of audiences – from pre-school kids to Prime Minister Chretien, from seniors at the St. Pat’s Garden Party to Prince Andrew at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John’s. In January, 2009 the senior members of the group travelled to London, England, playing in several professional concerts – and an impromptu session at the Air Canada gate in Heathrow when the plane was delayed! In the summers of 2008 and 2009 they were featured performers at the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention, the Canada Day Celebrations, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival; and they performed at the Canadian Folk Music Awards Gala in November 2008.

Young Virtuosi 

Young Virtuosi is STEP’s most advanced performing group. Every child who achieves the level necessary to enter the class (Book 6 for violin, Book 5 for cello) can become a member of this ensemble. Every student in the group will perform a solo concerto with their peers playing the orchestra parts for them.

Jennifer Johnson is the director and brings a wealth of personal performing experience to the class. The class meets from 3:15 – 4:45 on Monday afternoons at the Anglican Cathedral. This ensemble is open to other advanced string students (non-Suzuki) in the community – an audition for the director will be required.

$265 for Suzuki students
$665 + family registration fee for non-Suzuki students
$15 uniform fee for first-time members

In reality, it is a very rare privilege to perform as a soloist with an orchestra, and outside of STEP, the opportunity is only given to those very few young performers who have won a competition. In accordance with Suzuki’s discovery that “every child can”, each and every student in this class has the opportunity to perform as soloist with orchestra, and gain the benefits that this experience teaches: leadership and communication skills, courage, confidence, self-knowledge, commitment, poise, and musical sensitivity. The students use all the skills they have ever learned in lessons, Group Classes, Musicianship and Orchestra, since they first picked up a bow.

The group presents public performances at the end of each semester, is requested to perform at community events, and occasionally performs outside St. John’s, anywhere from Brigus to Guelph to London, England.