Chambergrass? Berklee's FAQ Hits Falcon Ridge

By 
Nick Balkin
July 10, 2009
The Folk Arts Quartet

The Folk Arts Quartet (FAQ)a flagship Berklee ensemble—perform a style they like to call "chambergrass": raw, grooving fiddle music played with the grace and sophistication of a classical string quartet. Hear them live at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, July 23–24, at Dodds Farm in Hillsdale, New York. For full schedule and ticket information, visit falconridgefolk.com.

The four young women comprising the FAQ are perennial Canadian fiddle champ Ivonne Hernandez '09; cellist and 2009 Fulbright Scholar Liz Davis Maxfield '09; violist Julie Metcalf '09; and violinist Hannah Read. The band's unique sound is shaped by the fact that its members hail from Scotland, Canada, and the eastern and western United States. Collectively, they've studied with renowned string musicians Eugene Friesen, Matt Glaser, Natalie Haas, John McGann, and more. Visit folkartsquartet.com for more information.

About the FAQ's members

Liz Davis Maxfield '09, cello

From Orem, Utah, Liz Davis Maxfield, a cellist since she was 5, grew up performing in her family's touring folk band Fiddlesticks. From early on, she developed a love for playing and composing cello music, whether it be classical, folk, jazz, or other styles. After attending Brigham Young University as a classical cello performance major, Maxfield transferred to Berklee to study cello folk music. She has 10 CDs to her credit, many of which she composed the music for. Her newest release is titled Big Fiddle. This year, Maxfield was awarded the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student scholarship to study for a year in Ireland. She is the first cellist ever accepted to the University of Limerick's Irish Traditional Music Performance masters program. During her stay, she will write and publish a method book on adapting Irish fiddle and guitar styles for the cello—a groundbreaking concept since the cello is so rare in the world of Irish traditional music. lizdavismaxfield.com.

Ivonne Hernandez '09, violin

Ivonne Hernandez is a fiddler from Victoria, British Columbia and a 2009 Berklee grad who also plays guitar, piano, cello, flute, percussion, and South American instruments. Since she was 5 years old, she has placed in every fiddle contest she's competed in. She won the Grand North American Old-Time Fiddle Contest four times, the Merritt Old-Time Fiddlers Provincial Competition twice, and was a finalist at Ottawa's Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition 1999–2006. Hernandez has performed with or opened for Barachois, Alan Jackson, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Natalie MacMaster, and the Paperboys; and at festivals throughout the United States and Canada. She has also appeared on Much Music, The New RO, City TV, CHTV and TV5 (Europe), and several CBC Radio programs, including The Vicki Gabereau Show. Hernandez has recorded three solo albums: Playing With Fire (2002, self-released), In Time (2005, Warner), and Sisters (2009). ivonnehernandez.com.

Julie Metcalf '09, viola

Julie Metcalf grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts in a family of musicians who encouraged her to make music at an early age. At first she specialized in classical violin, which she went on to study at Boston University's College of Fine Arts, though soon she discovered a passion for folk, jazz, Celtic, Latin, and other contemporary styles. In May 2009, Metcalf graduated with a degree in violin performance from Berklee College of Music, which she attended on scholarship. myspace.com/juliemetcalf.

Hannah Read, violin

Edinburgh, Scotland native Hannah Read is a fiddler and vocalist whose style blends Scottish folk with jazz, soul, and world music. At 11, she enrolled at the City of Edinburgh Music School to study fiddle, classical violin, piano, and voice. While still in school, she performed at Scotland's Usher Hall (for the Dalai Lama), Edinburgh Castle, Murrayfield Stadium, and at the Isle of Eigg's 10th Anniversary Ceilidh (Independence Day). At 18, she moved to Paris to study jazz vocals at the American School of Modern Music. The following year, she was commissioned to compose the music for the Rowan Tree Theatre Company's annual production The Journey of Jeannie Deans. The play was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2007, she enrolled at Berklee where she is currently studying fiddle. Read has appeared onstage with Crooked Still, Celine Dion, Maeve Gilchrist, the Treacherous Orchestra (a collective of renowned Scottish musicians), Ewan Macpherson, and others. myspace.com/hanaread.

The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival is held at Dodds Farm in Hillsdale, New York at the tristate corner of Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut. Festival attendance in past years has approached 15,000. Though musical acts and styles generally vary in scope from older folk artists such as Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens, and Janis Ian to up-and-coming acts from the fringes of folk and other genres from bluegrass (Crooked Still) to polka (Brave Combo), the dominant style of music at the festival is folk-pop. Past festivals have included such artists as Ani DiFranco, Lucy Kaplansky, Richard Shindell, and Dar Williams. For the full schedule and ticket information, visit falconridgefolk.com.