Double the fiddle, double the fun at Carson City Celtic Music Series
Carson City will get a double dose of fiddle on Saturday, when Fiddlers2 open the Celtic Music Series hosted by the Brewery Arts Center.
The duo of Holly Sternberg and Vanessa Porter perform their arrangements of Scottish tunes in the first big concert for the Reno group.
“We are so honored to be opening the concert series; we just want to give a big thank you to Joe and Cathy (Bly),” Sternberg said. “It’s a huge opportunity for us. We’re really excited about it.”
Sternberg and Porter created Fiddlers2 after a music camp both attended. After camp ended, the two planned to get together and keep practicing what they learned.
“You get inspired by these camps, then you come back to the real world and kind of forget,” Sternberg said.
They practiced so much and liked what they heard so they decided to record an album, “Mirrors of Elsewhere: Scotland,” which was released in September. It features 11 tracks, with one song, “Farewells,” as an original tune. The rest are traditional songs, but all of the arrangements are theirs, Sternberg said. The arrangements are unique because Fiddlers2 decides where to do harmonies and where to do chords.
“It’s our own take and interpretation of the piece of music,” Sternberg said.
All of the songs are instrumental. At the concerts, the duo enjoys chatting with the audience between tunes, sharing some of the stories of the songs and history of the music and sometimes connecting the songs to stories of their lives.
A performance with two fiddles is different than a full band because the fiddle has to fill in for all of the other instruments. Some techniques Sternberg and Porter learned at the music camp were backing on the fiddle, chopping with the bow and using it as a rhythm instrument.
“It’s interesting because it shows the huge range of abilities that the fiddle is capable of — from percussion to chords and harmony and melody and all of that,” Sternberg said. “We’ve gotten many compliments on how much music just two fiddlers can make and also how you can hear the purity of two fiddles.”
Sternberg said the challenge for them is to slow down, while keeping the music going, but also knowing when to back off and keep two fiddles in melody or unison.
The two also have different styles that comes out during their performance.
“If you listen closely, you can hear there are two distinct voices going on,” Sternberg said.“It interweaves very nicely and harmoniously and beautifully while maintaining our two voices.”
The Brewery Arts label the duo a supergroup because of their backgrounds. Porter has performed with the Reno Philharmonic, the Reno Chamber Orchestra, the AVA Ballet and the Nevada Opera. Her background and voice is more classical, and that shows through her music, Sternberg said. Sternberg often performs with local Irish band Ciana. She has also won the Nevada State Fiddle Championship four times.
The performance is the debut concert for the duo. It will be an official release for the new album, “Mirrors of Elsewhere: Scotland.” CDs will be available at the show, and it is now streaming on multiple platforms.