As one of the world's most prominent fiddlers, Eileen Ivers is often asked to explain what separates her instrument from a violin. She has an anecdote at the ready.
"We did an outreach years ago down in Clemson, South Carolina. And a 10- or 11-year-old girl raised her hand and said, 'Miss Ivers, Miss Ivers! Do you know the difference between a violin and a fiddle? Well, a violin has strings, but a fiddle has strangs,'" Ivers says, shedding her Bronx accent to affect a Southern drawl.
And yet, as Ivers is also wont to note, famed classical violinist Itzhak Perlman has been known to refer to his violin as a fiddle.
"I like to go back and forth," she says. "The upshot is that the instruments are really the same, and even musically they're interchangeable."
One piece that showcases their interchangeability is "Pachelbel's Frolics," an extended riff on Pachelbel's familiar Canon. "Frolics" is a crossover crowd-pleaser, which is why Ivers frequently incorporates it into orchestral concerts like the one she's performing with the Spokane Symphony Saturday.