News release: Fotl!


Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s ‘Fiddlers on the Loose’ perform their finale: a multi-week tour of remote communities in Manitoba to play and work-shop fiddle & folk music

Tour covered over 2400km
Sponsor Manitoba Hydro came to the rescue

Winnipeg, summer 2018 — After a rich season of workshops and outreach in Manitoba’s hospitals, libraries, and penitentiaries, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra’s Fiddlers on the Loose perform their finale: a multi-week tour of remote communities in Manitoba to play and work-shop fiddle and folk music. There is,of course, already a strong tradition of Red River fiddle music in Manitoba, and our initiative helps to build on the good work of communities as well as the Frontier School Division to sustain and foster that tradition.

This year, the six professional musicians, librarian, and stage manager who make up Fiddlers on the Loose covered over 2400 km to visit Little Black River, Berens River, Bissett, Falcon Lake, Moose Lake, Barrows, Camperville, Birdtail Sioux, and Waterhen, where our concerts and workshops reached thousands of youth in schools and community centres.

It was an especially adventurous tour. Our heavy-duty vans held their own as well as one could hope amid the treacherous road conditions we were sometimes forced to face, demanding on a few occasions that we pull them over for care and tire changes. The hospitality of local good Samaritans helped see us through these bumps in the road. In particular, we are grateful to Rick Warkentin’s crew from Manitoba Hydro’s ‘Distribution East’ station, who pulled over to lend a hand — as well as power tools and a sledgehammer — when they saw us stranded with a flat tire stubbornly resisting ordinary means of repair. As it happens, Manitoba Hydro sponsors the MCO’s education and outreach programs, so this was a serendipitous turn of events! We must also thank Enterprise for their excellent customer service in helping us along as we resolved our vehicular pickles.

Of course, our most lasting memories will be of the jigs, reels, and waltzes we heard and played, as well as the connections we made with young fiddlers. Educators comment on our program’s impact beyond the classroom in cultivating both musical and life skills. We know that the work we do merely serves to support the music programs and traditions that already exist in the Frontier School Division. Red River music appears to be going through something of a renaissance right now, and Manitoba’s north has some very fine fiddlers and fiddle instructors.

It was a pleasure working with them, and we look forward to next year’s tour. See video here.

For inquiries regarding interviews and photographs, please contact Conrad Sweatman, MCO Marketing & Communications Manager.


THE MCO OUTREACH PROGRAM is funded by The Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council, the Winnipeg Arts Council, The Winnipeg Foundation, Mauro Family Fund, the Children’s Heritage Fund, Assiniboine Credit Union, The Great-West Life Assurance Company, the Lloyd Carr-Harris Foundation, MacDon Industries, Manitoba Hydro, MB4Youth, Manitoba School Boards Association, Manitoba Teachers’ Society, Maxim Truck and Trailer, the Musicians’ Performance Trust Fund, New Flyer Industries, Province of Manitoba Culture Branch, the Richardson Foundation, the Rita Menzies Endowment Fund for Arts Education, the Rotary Club of Winnipeg West, Sun Life Financial, TD, the Winnipeg Public Library and Telus.