Louis Bockner/News staff
The life of hotel bedrooms and in-flight breakfasts can be heard creeping into Ivonne Hernandez’s voice, but more prominent is the vibrant love and passion that has driven her music her entire life. Tonight, in the midst of a flourishing career, the West Shore-raised fiddler is bringing her high-energy music home to Victoria’s Fairfield United Church.
“It’s awesome to come back and play in front of friends and family,” says Hernandez. “It’s so nice to see everyone, say hello, and thank them for their support over the years.”
With many acts in her musical repertoire, Hernandez will take the stage with her latest ensemble, The Fretless, which consists of three fiddles and a cello.
Since releasing its debut album, “Waterbound,” last spring, the group is on the rise. With three awards under the belt, including Group of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards and Instrumental Album of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards, the band is set for another year of foot-stomping nights and connecting flights.
The group’s upbeat blend of folk music draws inspiration from across the globe, including classical, Celtic and Scandinavian traditions, and provides a fitting soundtrack to the multi-cultural world we live in.
This uniting of cultures began early for Hernandez who would play her violin by ear to match everything from her mother’s Maritime reels to her father’s Chilean folk music. After picking up the guitar, cello, flute, piano and percussion she joined Daniel Lapp’s B.C. Fiddle Orchestra, which gave her much needed real-world musical experience.
“It was very interesting and very helpful for later in life,” says Hernandez. “Working with adults who have done it before is great experience when you’re 10 or 11 years old.”
Now, 20 years later, she has played with the likes of Alan Jackson, Natalie MacMaster, Earth Wind and Fire and Mark O’Connor (one of her living idols) and in 2009 she graduated from Boston’s Berklee College of Music at the top of her class. After seven years of living in the U.S. she moved back to Victoria seven months ago.
“I missed Victoria and I missed my family and friends,” she says. “I decided that since I’m only home for short periods of time in between tours I wanted to spend that time here.”
During her brief returns she tutors a fiddle group of advanced students, ranging from the ages of 11 to 17, who will open Friday’s show with a few songs of their own.
This return to her roots offers Hernandez a chance to give back to a community that nurtured her own prodigious talent.
“I try to give them opportunities like getting gigs and being in a band because once you get out of high school that’s what it’s all about,” says Hernandez. “Above all they are just great to work with.”
In many ways Friday will be just another night on stage for the this well-travelled, West-Coast fiddler, but one way it is refreshingly different.
“I get to sleep in my own bed after,” she says with a laugh.
Showtime is 8 p.m. at Fairfield United Church 1303 Fairfield Rd.
Get ticket info at www.thefretless.com.