Childsplay Is Everything But That!
Silly me to think that Childsplay is a group of children playing violins, but that is exactly what I thought before sitting down to chat with Bob Childs, violin and viola maker extraordinaire, in advance of Childsplay’s tour this month. I am happy he set me straight about the ensemble as well as the craft of violin making.
Childsplay was born thirty years ago in Washington, DC, and Bob became involved with it that year. He plays fiddle in addition to being a luthier.
Childsplay is currently an ensemble of twenty-one musicians ranging in age from 20s to 70, two-thirds of whom are fiddle players. (Yes, I asked Bob the difference between a fiddle and a violin, and he said it is merely the way the instrument is played.) They are all extremely accomplished musicians, ranging from a violinist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra to a Boston-based fiddle player whom I have seen on a number of occasions.
Bob explained that the violin is the instrument most like the human voice, and showed me that each piece of wood he uses has a slightly different voice. His clients choose their wood by listening to each piece’s voice and two hundred hours later, a violin is born.iHis Each of the fiddles used by the ensemble were made by Bob, hence the name!
Childsplay explores the relationship between voice and violin and adds dance for a rhythmic component. This year’s version of Childplay has two Irish step dancers as well as a body percussionist and hambone player who will create that percussive element.
This music is contemporary; it is dynamic yet rooted in tradition. While there are elements of traditional fiddle music in the tunes created by these musicians, this is music anyone can and should appreciate. This is original music.
Bob loves the violin, saying that there is a mystery to it. He cannot explain why it sounds the way it does, so close to the human voice, but that is most likely why it has been revered since before the time that Amati, Stradivari, and Guarneri made their instruments.
I am listening to some of their music as I write this, and am amazed at how multiple violins are so synchronized that they sound like one instrument. I have witnessed from about ten feet away three fiddles sounding like one, and was awestruck. I cannot imagine – until I see for myself in a few weeks – that I will not be struck dumb by the wizardry of Childsplay.
You might wonder how musicians from such disparate backgrounds are able to perform in such a collaborative fashion. Well, you will have to get a ticket to one of their upcoming shows (Massachusetts, New York and Maine) to discover the answer!
Posted on November 2, 2016, in concert announcements, interview, music, Uncategorized and tagged Bob Childs, Childsplay, concert announcement, fiddles, interview, luthier, music, Somerville Theatre, violins. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.