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  • Writer's pictureLorna Hamilton

Vermilion Allied Arts Council Presents A Night Of Musical Marvel With Calvin Vollrath & Friends


Calvin Vollrath. Photo submitted

Get ready for an unforgettable evening of musical enchantment as the Vermilion Allied Arts Council proudly presents “Calvin Vollrath & Friends.” This extraordinary event is set to take center stage at the Alumni Hall Theatre at Lakeland College on Saturday, October 14th at 7:30 p.m. Prepare to be mesmerized by a multi-style instrumental fiddle performance that promises to captivate the hearts of all in attendance, while also weaving in the fascinating stories behind each musical masterpiece.

The stage will be graced by an ensemble of exceptionally talented musicians, including Alex Kustoruk, Jeremy Rusu, Brianna Lizotte, and Ethan Harty, all joining forces with the virtuoso, Calvin Vollrath. Their collaborative performance will not only showcase their mastery of the fiddle but also provide insight into the origins of each piece, creating a truly immersive experience for the audience.

One of the evening’s standout talents is Jeremy Rusu, a blind musician hailing from Brockville, Ontario. Rusu’s extraordinary musical genius extends beyond the fiddle, as he’s known to effortlessly play 15 different instruments. Throughout the performance, Rusu will grace the audience with feature appearances on some of these instruments.

Ethan Harty, a two-time Grand Master Fiddle Champion from Lougheed, will also accompany Vollrath, infusing their collaboration with the magic that only true fiddle champions can conjure.

Brianna Lizotte, a Metis fiddler has a remarkable musical journey. Raised in a household where music was a constant presence, Lizotte took it upon herself to carry the torch when most of the musicians in her family passed away by the age of 10. Her dedication and talent have taken her to prestigious stages, including performing on TSN for the 2019 Grand Opening of the Canada Winter Games and playing for the Pope during Metis delegate meetings in Rome. Lizotte’s impressive resume also includes graduating from MacEwan University’s Bachelor of Music program.

Another gifted Metis fiddler, Alex Kustoruk, brings a unique blend of styles to the stage. Growing up following his mother to Old-time dance events in Manitoba, Kustoruk was steeped in the Metis fiddle tradition. However, his music is enriched with influences from Quebecois and Cape Breton fiddle styles. Kustoruk also performed for the Pope during the Metis delegate meetings in Rome in 2022. His list of accolades is extensive, including titles like the Métis Spring Festival Champion (Alberta, 2016) and Two-Time British Columbia Fiddle Champion (2008, 2009).

At the heart of this musical spectacle is the prodigious Calvin Vollrath. Vollrath’s love for music began at an early age when he received his first fiddle at just eight years old. His journey took him to fiddle contests, where he quickly rose through the ranks, winning the Championship class by the age of 17. Twice crowned the Grand North American Old Tyme Fiddle Champion, Vollrath’s talent has evolved to create over 800 original compositions. With 72 albums to his name and a new release titled ‘Dedications’ scheduled for October 28 this year, Vollrath’s musical legacy continues to grow. He’s also composed tunes for the Vancouver Winter Olympics 2010 Opening Ceremonies and the theme for the International Fiddle Convention ‘Fiddles of the World’ in 1999. Vollrath is not just a performer but also an active educator in the world of fiddle music, operating his own recording studio.

Vollrath’s accomplishments are too numerous to enumerate, but highlights include his induction into the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame in 2011, a recent honour bestowed by the Country Music Alberta Hall of Fame in 2022, and having his name dedicated to the St. Paul welcome signs. Throughout his illustrious career, he has shared the stage with music legends such as Ian Tyson, Colleen Peterson, Laura Vinson, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, and Hank Thompson.

But the evening won’t be solely devoted to fiddle music. Calvin Vollrath’s wife, Rhea Labrie, will dazzle the audience with her step dancing and Red River Jig performances. Adding to the spectacle, Alex Kustoruk’s wife, Drea Haffe, will showcase her talent with Belt Dance and Red River Jigs.

Don’t miss your chance to witness this exceptional musical event. Tickets are available for purchase at Fantasy Flowers on Main Street or through E-transfer by contacting vermilionalliedarts@gmail.com. For only $35, you can be part of a night that promises to leave you spellbound with the magic of music and dance.

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