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Fiddler Eileen Ivers celebrates roots of the music with Spokane Symphony

If you’ve ever been to a symphony performance before, you’ll likely be familiar with the violin. But the fiddle? Is there even a difference? Eileen Ivers, Grammy Award-winning Irish fiddler and this weekend’s symphony guest artist, explained:

“This little girl asked me once during a masterclass, ‘What’s the difference between a violin and a fiddle?’ I said ‘You know, I don’t know,’ and she said, ‘Well a violin has strings, but a fiddle has straaangs.’ ”

As it turns out, the primary difference lies in the musician; the instruments are the same, the techniques, quite different. Itzhak Perlman, the world-renowned violinist, notably calls his instrument a fiddle. “The wonderful thing about playing with the Spokane Symphony is that we’ll be able to represent both kinds of players and really show that interchangeability,” Ivers said.

Audience members familiar with composer Bill Whelan’s Riverdance, the Irish music and dance sensation that took the world by storm during 1994’s Eurovision Song Contest, might be more familiar with Ivers’ work than they realize.