Camp Casey is often appreciated for its rustic charm. No more so than by those seeking a setting to encourage creative expression. This is the reason the Northwest Scottish Fiddlers have held their annual winter workshop at Camp Casey for the past 11 years. In January, the popular workshop’s attendance reached 117, ranging in ages from 8 to 78 years old. Many attendees were from Washington, as well as Oregon, California, Montana, and the East Coast.
“We have enjoyed the unique character of this space. The staff work hard to accommodate us,” said Marcia Thumma, the conference organizer. “The scenery is tremendous.”
In addition to the natural beauty, the historic venue’s other attributes contribute to the workshop’s success.
“It’s a special place to many of us because of the music connection and kindred spirits that come together all under one roof,” Thumma said. “The charm of Whidbey Island, and especially Coupeville, offer many opportunities before and after the workshop.”
The two instructors, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, are world-class musicians who have been playing together for over 20 years. The workshop culminates with an annual concert for the community.
“Most importantly, we learn how to play in a traditional Scottish style, and at the same time, give the music lift, and life, and a contemporary feeling,” Thumma said. “We learn how to play as a group. While some have done this for years, to many it’s a new life experience.”
The concert kicked off with a performance by The Reds, a trio who are previous workshop attendees. Professional fiddler Ryan Mckasson was called up from the audience, a rare treat. Eventually, every workshop participant was on stage playing tunes they’d literally learned to play by ear only the day before. This was the “final exam,” and ultimate testament to the success of the instruction.
Founded in 2006, the Northwest Scottish Fiddlers are a club of a Seattle-area fiddlers. The 2020 winter workshop will again be held at Camp Casey. To learn more, visit http://www.nwscottishfiddlers.org/