Victorian Christmas brings out the best in youth performers

December 17, 2016

I found myself writing several pieces on children who were developing musicians and actors while living on Salt Spring Island.

A friend was very persistent in persuading me to write these pieces. I had a mixed reaction to this. On the one hand, journalists need to be removed from what they write about in order to write a balanced story. It can be difficult to do so when you are often invited to dinner by someone connected to the topic you are writing about.

On the other hand, who would be willing to write about these children’s events if not I. Being friends with a reporter in a small community should not exclude what someone feels important enough to rate an article from being written.

What can I say, except here is an example of one article that I wrote while feeling personal conflict:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Victorian Christmas brings out the best in youth performers: Show runs from Mayne Island to Duncan to Salt Spring

by Tanya Lester

The Salt Spring Island Fiddlers are doing their part once again this year to ensure the islands can savour traditional entertainment with the remounting of their play A Victorian Christmas.

Besides uplifting violin music, the play’s second act emulates a Victorian parlour party with someone reading a poem, another doing a dance and homemade treats prepared by the group’s parents.

“At some point, you start feeling the warm feeling that Christmas is coming,” said Carolyn Hatch, who is the fiddlers’ teacher.

“I think this started the magic for people who were there last year.”

Many among those who watched from the audiences seats in 2008 give the musical rave reviews.

“Well, I think the performance over all, the skillfulness, was just unreal,” Jim Wlasitz said. “It’s so wonderful to see such a young group…It’s like waiting to see a flower bloom. You see it budding.”

Jean Knight, an accomplished violinist, enjoyed A Victorian Christmas so much that she offered to play for the concert this year.

“I love to see the children playing,” Knight said.

It is a Christmas concert like its predecessor, the Newman Family’s Scrooge, put on ” by the people on Salt Spring Island.”

Some of the youth who performed last year have gone on to university and other pursuits.

This means there will be a number of younger children in the play replacing them this year, said Kim Hunter, who coordinates the production.

Hatch believes staging an event like this on is “a good stage experience” for her students because it takes them beyond playing the violin to performing with song, acting and speaking in front of an audience.

No matter what one goes on to do in life, most of us will have to stand up in front of an audience at one time or another, she said. Also important is the opportunity for them to bond as friends, which is something that can continue for a lifetime.

Last year, staging the play was part of fundraising events that helped pay the way for the Salt Spring Island Fiddlers to perform in New York City.

One trip highlight was meeting and exchanging musical performances with the music students at Opus 118 in Harlem. The group and Roberta Guaspari, who co-founded it, inspired a Hollywood movie called Music of the Heart starring Meryl Streep. Among their many high-profile performances was playing at the Children’s Inaugural Ball when Barack Obama was sworn in as the United Sates’ president.

“Our goal is to transform the lives of our students,” states the group’s website.

Another awe-inspiring experience was playing at the United Nations, said Kaya Hunter, a senior player with the Salt Spring Island Fiddlers. She really enjoyed watching people from Ireland stop and spontaneously break out into their country’s traditional dance while her group played Irish music.

When entering the United Nations building, everything was checked, including all instruments, as border guards do when someone is entering a country. The Salt Spring musicians happened to set up in front of the Holocaust commemoration display in the massive lobby that is the equivalent of several city blocks in length. Delegates from many countries stopped to enjoy their fiddling.

Kaya Hunter said just as much fun was something that happened when they were travelling on the subway with their instruments.

A man pulled out a clarinet and played for them. Before leaving, he responsibly warned them not to talk to strangers.

This year, proceeds from the play will go into a tour fund. When there is sufficient money, the fiddlers plan to go on another tour to an exotic place which could be Hawaii, Costa Rico or Mexico.

No less enjoyable, though, is the island-hopping tour that they will once again do with A Victorian Christmas.

“We go on boats, people love it and then you get to come home and sleep in your own bed,” Hatch said. “People who have seen it before will get to see how the children have grown.”…


Tanya Lester’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader (can be purchased from the author and at, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes.

To read more posts on this blog go to and

Tanya now works as a psychic who specializes in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channelling and mediumship. She is a reiki master and fulltime house sitter. For more about this go to her web site at or her pages at Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Or contact her directly by email at or cell phone at 250-538-0086 or messaging.


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