Gerald Fagan, the Artistic Director of the Bach Festival, has for the past two years wanted to bring the fabulous Fiddling icon Shane Cook to Exeter. The Canadian Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame says of Shane, “he rates at the top of the short list of the finest fiddlers in the world today”. His credentials include winning the Canadian Open National Championship three times, was a Grand North American Champion, and is the only foreign fiddler to win the US Grand National Championship (which he captured when only 17 years of age!!!!).
When Shane was approached about coming to Exeter, he said that he had never performed here before, and would be delighted to come. In the first meeting to discuss Shane coming to Exeter, a wonderful human interest story came to light. Shane enquired if Fagan knew of Gerry Smith, a former champion fiddler living in Exeter. Shane talked glowingly of Gerry’s accomplishments, and told the story that as a young boy, Shane’s father purchased Shane’s first full sized violin from Gerry, and a lifelong friendship developed. Gerry had already been approached to perform in the Festival, and upon hearing this, Shane ecstatically enquired of the possibility of the two friends team up to perform together!!! So Gerry is appearing as a Special Guest of Shane and his troupe in the Festival. Sponsored by Crabby Joe’s Restaurant, this featured performance this coming July promises to be one of great musicianship and respect for one champion to another.
Robert Skelton, the celebrated Professor Emeritus of Violin at Western University, and a friend of Fagan’s, indicated many times that Shane could perform technical concepts on the violin that no other student that he had in 50 years of teaching could accomplish. A performance not to be missed.