The 14th Annual Smith Memorial Benefit Concert announces the performance, Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic at Tibbits Opera House at 7 pm Saturday, September 20, 2014.
Since 1994 this extraordinary group of high school talent has exhilarated audiences from every generation. They celebrate songs and dances from the tradition of American folk, bluegrass, jazz, western swing and Celtic music. The repertoire, which increases every year, includes many pieces both traditional and contemporary arranged by both students and an eclectic and talented artistic team headed by Artistic Director, Jimmy Whitman.
The concert organized by Diane Smith Pridgeon and her sister Susanne Smith Wise honors the memories of their family Ruth, Robert, Douglas and Dean Smith. The benefit concert began as a way to celebrate the lives of Robert, Douglas and Dean Smith. Pridgeon explains “At the 25th year after their passing, my mother and I thought we would like to do something to give back to our community.” After Ruth’s passing the sisters continued the tradition, adding their mother to the list of the lives they celebrate.
On behalf or herself and her sister Pridgeon says, “Branch County is a rural area; a place where people know each other and care. To continue the legacy our family instilled in us of faith, family, friends, we share this concert for all of Branch County to affirm the same. It’s a celebration of life, love and God’s gift of music.”
The Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic concert is offered without charge but donations are accepted with proceeds going to a community nonprofit. Each year the sisters choose the organization to be the recipient. Past beneficiaries have included Tibbits, Habitat for Humanity, the Presbyterian Health Clinic, Branch County 4-H Foundation and many others. This year’s beneficiary will be the Branch District Library and their youth programming.
Pridgeon says she discovered the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic last summer at a music-in-the-park event she attended with her daughter who had moved to Saline. “I was impressed that they performed throughout the summer,” said Pridgeon. “This is an extracurricular activity for the students; this is not for school credit. I was impressed with that level of talent and commitment these performers showed.”
Saline Orchestra Teacher Bob Phillips started the group 20 years ago with one simple idea: introduce an alternative style of music education to public school students. With great success Phillips created a strong and vibrant fiddle organization that broke through the fiddle music scene. After 9 years Bob’s departure sparked two high school fiddle groups in Saline and thus Saline Fiddlers and Fiddlers ReStrung were born. After 10 years both groups decided it was time to combine and recreate the legacy of Bob Phillips and the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic was reborn.
SFP creates an atmosphere of creativity and excitement that shines through every song, from singing popular old-time and modern favorites to Americana clog dancing choreographed by Sheila Graziano. Each student brings his or her own unique personality to every performance. Audiences are always anticipating the next surprise by this young ensemble. The group performs across Michigan, the country and even the world as they tour and play over 80 shows a year.
Cutline: The Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic will perform at Tibbits September 20 as part of the Smith Memorial concert benefiting the Branch District Library.
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