On October 29, 2016, UTC held their first Fiddle Festival—a new venture into American folk music for the Department of Performing Arts. The day-long festival was held for participants to learn about and play American fiddle tunes and folk music in an informal orchestra setting alongside award winning fildders Jim Wood and John Boulware, along with guitarist Inge Wood. Jim Wood was responsible for the musical arrangements of the tunes and leading the clinic, while Sandy Morris conducted the orchestra.
Jim Wood has won over 160 first prizes in folk music competitions, including at least seven fiddle championships. John Boulware is also a Tennessee state champion in fiddling. Along with Jim’s wife Inge Wood, all three of these clinicians are multi-instrumentalists. Orchestra director Sandy Morris is well-known in the region for her work with the Chattanooga Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as her teaching at the Center for Creative Arts high school and her work as a clinician and adjudicator. She was honored by the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts. Currently she leads the UTC Cadek Community Orchestra.
After the event, Sandy Morris said that numerous participants expressed appreciateion and hope that UTC will hold the festival again. Also, one gentleman in the audience commented immediately after the concert: “That was the best concert I have ever attended. Hearing that music made the hair on my arms stand up.” He went on to relate that he had heard this kind of music when he was a youngster, as folks sat on the porch and played music.
Overall, the festival was a success as it highlighted the rich culture found in folk music and promoted an attitude of enthusiastic collaboration.