A Star That Shines Brightly
Oliver Schroer is a fantastic Canadian fiddler that has influenced my way of listening and writing unconventional fiddling music. Ever since discovering his music, I have been avidly trying to emulate his style whenever I play fiddle. It even seeps into my classical style once in a while.
His style, if I could describe it in a few words, is happy and inspired. He loves music – it inspires him and makes him happy – and he wishes to share this with as many people as possible. He’s on I don’t know how many recordings (his own, and other people’s projects). One of his most recent projects, called Camino, is particularly inspiring.
His album, Camino, was recorded in churches along the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail. Schroer walked 1,000 km of the trail in 2004 with his wife and two friends, carrying a portable recording studio. To save weight, he did not bring a violin case. He carried his instrument wrapped in a sleeping bag in his backpack, “like my own precious relic, carefully packed in its reliquary of socks and underwear.” The album features solo playing, occasionally against a background of local sounds such as church bells, birds, and monastic voices.
If that isn’t inspired, I don’t know what is.
His earlier projects (such as the CD Jigzup, which, as a CD cover, pictures him biting his fiddle – a picture I find highly amusing) have heavily influenced a few fiddlers on the Hull-Chelsea-Wakefield Touristic Steam train, where I’ve been working as a fiddler for four years now. We have been inserting many of his tunes in our repertoire. They are some of our favourites.
He has also developed many fiddle groups with children, such as one called Twisted Strings, so he could have a medium other than shows and recordings to share his love for music.
Oliver Schroer has now been diagnosed with Leukemia. More recently, his Leukemia has been diagnosed as terminal.
In his newsletter, I, along with his fans, friends, and family, were comforted by his incredibly positive perspective on everything. To quote a few paragraphs:
I guess I feel that life is not only about quantity. It is about quality as well in a big way. We all have to die some time. None of us will live on this planet forever. I think some people live very intensely and burn very brightly during their time here. I think I am one of those people. A shining star while I am here. So I look at my life as I have lived it, and I feel very satisfied with all I have achieved and gone through. As a musician and artist I have found my voice on my instrument of choice. That is what any artist wants to do. Whether you are a musician or a painter or a dancer or a writer, the bottom line as a creative person is to find that unique voice and express it in your art. I really did invent my own unique way of playing the fiddle, and that is a fantastic, beautiful and frankly, a lucky thing.
So between finding my voice on my instrument, and being able to share my music directly with so many, I feel like a very lucky guy. There is also the fact that in life, I like to concentrate on the positive aspects of reality. I don’t like to mope around about things. I strongly suggest to all of you that this is a waaaay better way to go and to be. Look at what you do have, and thank the Creator for that, and enjoy it all to the max. Don’t look at what you don’t have. Make sure your glass is half full, not half empty. This is a stance you take in life. It is not a random attitude. But with just a little bit of practice, that becomes an attitude you can easily stick to. Let’s put it this way. If I can think like this in my present position, I would hope that you all can do the same. I would even ask you to do this for me. Take that stance in life for me and from me, and concentrate always on the positive. “
For some of us, being positive is tough. But when he puts it that way … we do need more Olivers in this world.
One last quote to share that is somewhat related to this topic:
“Some feelings occur accidentally and some have a foundation. For example: some people are naturally kind, but they may be accidentally upset by a wave of anger. But if they hear music, the true nature will reassert itself. Music really awakens the real, natural nature, the individual essence.”
–‘Abdu’l-Baha’s words to Mrs. Mary L. Lucas, as quoted in “A Brief Account of My Visit to Acca” (Chicago: Baha’i Publishing Society, 1905), p. 14
Oliver Schroer’s music, in short, is so positive, that I don’t doubt this is also his true nature.
Oli, keep it up, and when you do leave us, may that be 5 months or 10 years (we were told you’re quite the fighter …), your star will continue to shine brightly through all the positive musicians you have influenced.