by Mike Telin

FOLEY-TomáseenJune is finally here, which means it’s time for many musical groups to move into Summer Mode. For Apollo’s Fire, that means the 2013 edition of the group’s popular Countryside Concerts is just around the corner. Beginning on Thursday, June 6 and running through Tuesday, June 11, with a special children’s concert on Tuesday June 11, (check our Concert Listings page for locations and times), the acclaimed Irish storyteller Tomáseen Foley returns to Northeast Ohio with a new show titled My Father Was a Matchmaker: Tunes & Tales of Love from Old Ireland.

Foley will be joined by his longtime collaborator and Grammy Award-winning artist William Coulter, guest music director & guitarist, vocalist Ross Hauck, Irish piper & dancer Brian Bigley, hammered dulcimer player Tina Bergmann & Canadian fiddler Edwin Huizinga.

Foley says the idea for My Father Was a Matchmaker came after last season’s highly successful Celtic Crossings: Songs & Stories of the Irish-American Journey. “Jeannette Sorrell and I were discussing some ideas for the future and I told her about my father. She thought it was a great idea and so it developed from there.”

Mr. Foley grew up in Teampall an Ghleanntáin, a small parish in the southwest of Ireland on the borders of West Limerick, North Kerry and Cork, an area so remote that electricity and running water did not arrive until he was a teenager. “I saw the last remnants of the truly old communal way of life. Nobody had a car, nobody had a tractor; everything was done sort of by hand, and all of the entertainment was provided by the people themselves for the people. So as a result it developed a unique style of playing and dance, and especially storytelling. Additionally the parish has a long history of matchmakers. “My parents were brought together through a matchmaker and most of the time this was a position reserved for women. But like my father, many men have been matchmakers.”

Why does one choose to use the services of a matchmaker? “Usually it is older gentlemen who employ the services of a matchmaker. You would usually go to the matchmaker and tell them that you are interested in a certain young lady.” But Foley adds that it was done with a certain degree an embarrassment, because you didn’t want people to know that you needed the services. “Although it is a lot like meeting on the Internet. I have many friends who have met [their husbands and wives] on the Internet and are happily married.”

Did his father ever try to impose his services on Foley and his siblings? “No, never,” he laughs. “I come from a very large family and if he would have tried, I’m sure we would have [rejected his advice].”

Will the stories Foley tells during My Father Was a Matchmaker be full of “little secrets? “I don’t want to give away the element of surprise, although they are based on truth, but perhaps a bit embellished.”

HUIZINGA-EdwinLike many musicians of his generation, it is difficult to know exactly where to pigeonhole Canadian violinist, fiddler and indie rocker Edwin Huizinga. “Nowadays, young musicians are not afraid to immerse themselves into a variety of musical genres, and in fact many are choosing to build careers around two or three different genres,” Huizinga told us by telephone between rehearsals of Beethoven’s 4th symphony with the Toronto-based Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra.

Born and raised on a farm just outside of Guelph, Ontario, Huizinga began playing the violin at five years old at the encouragement of his mother.” I started my training at the Guelph Suzuki String School but at the age of fourteen I began what I thought was a huge commute, to the big city of Toronto!” It was his teacher in Toronto, the noted violinist, jazz player and champion fiddler, Mark Fewer, who Huizinga credits for introducing him to all that can be done on the violin. “From the very beginning, my lessons with Mark always made their way to fiddling, which was great.”

Following high school, Huizinga went on to Oberlin where he was a student of Marilyn McDonald. It was she who introduced him to the world of baroque violin playing. “I met some incredible people during this time, and am still collaborating with so many of them.”

Huizinga went on the San Francisco Conservatory were he earned his master’s degree in violin performance. And it was in San Francisco that he met his “good friend and colleague,” Charith Premawardhana, with whom he spent every Sunday evening performing chamber music at the Revolution Café. That resulted in the birth of Classical Revolution. After returning to Canada, Huizinga established the Toronto Classical Revolution chapter where in April of this year he was joined by conductor James Gaffigan in an evening they called “Club Symphony.”

During 2012 Huizinga toured North America and Europe with his indierock band Wooden Sky, playing over a hundred shows in four months.“The experience of being on a stage with the band was a real education for me in how to relate to an audience, and that experience has helped me progress in all that I do.”

How does Edwin Huizinga manage to keep all these musical balls in the air? “People often ask how I can play so many genres and I think that they all help each other. It is also good to have a break from one or the other from time to time. I find that taking a break from Classical music to fiddle actually does improve my classical playing”.

Published on June 4, 2013

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