By STEPHANIE TIPPLE
PBS will be airing “A Fiddler’s Holiday,” a music special featuring the University of Mary Washington Philharmonic Orchestra.
Led by maestro and director of the orchestra, Kevin Bartram, the UMW Philharmonic, compiled of students and community musicians, has had great success in recent years. Most recently, the group won the American Prize for Top Nine in the Country in 2010, and Bartram wants to expand on the groups success.
“About this time last year, I contacted WVPT Harrisonburg, I have a friend who’s a general manager there, and I asked him about the possibility of having his crew come down and film our Holiday Pop Shows with the suggestion that WBPT would air the show,” Bartram said.
WVPT, the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virgina’s Public Television Station, agreed to work with the group and air their performance, which led to the Philharmonic putting out a request for bids for filming. UMW vetted several different bids but after one from Jim Brown, a four-time Emmy Award-winning producer, UMW saw an opportunity to provide exposure for the Philharmonic.
Last December, Brown came to the campus to film “A Fiddler’s Holiday” with the Jay Ungar and Molly Mason Family Band and the UMW Philharmonic. What began as a local special for the UMW Philharmonic became something much more when Bertram had the opportunity this spring to pitch the program to the vice president of PBS.
“My idea for the show was a unique holiday special, not one featuring the standard Christmas jingles,” said Bartram. “It featured what we call ‘a down home Christmas’ with Appalachian fiddling music and a bit of Cajun.”
After the program was green-lighted for airing as a national fundraising show, the philharmonic celebrated and immediately started working on a tight timeline to complete the program.
The group was required by PBS to submit what is call the “deliverables,” which includes a CD and a DVD package, to serve as gifts for donors to the fundraiser.
“We didn’t have plans for a CD and DVD package, so we had about one month to create a CD and DVD package. It’s not nearly enough time to do it well, but we did it and we did it well,” Bartram said.
Recorded by the major label company, Rounder Records, the CD and DVD package will be given to those who make donations during the pledge drives aired by PBS this holiday season.
“This allows the music to live on beyond the program,” said Bartram.
While the program helps expose the UMW Philharmonic, it is also an excellent promotional opportunity for the campus, as the DVD offers several bonus chapters that feature content from the campus, as well as downtown Fredericksburg.
UMW has created a webpage to provide all of the information about the program, as well as resources to get the program played on local affiliate channels. The web page also provides contact information for network directors.
While the program will be aired nationally by PBS this holiday season, as well as next year from Thanksgiving to Christmas, students and families of the UMW community are needed to get the program aired at affiliate stations across the country.