Lauriate Roly Remembers: The Magic Violin

Posted on December 12, 2016


By Lauriate Roly

There’s a lovely church in front of my house.


Mountainview is a tiny hamlet.  There are only five houses, five mailboxes, a lonely and hidden cemetery and a beautiful old fashioned style church that never sees a soul enter there except on very special days, such as Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Or, quite often the church elders organize special dinners or yard sales or amateur musical concerts to encourage the local parishioners to come visit the church they are all contributing to maintain, even if many of these devoted people have little interest in attending regular church services.

It’s a lovely building, and one of the only churches in this province that has two steeples.  The place is kept immaculate by some designated caretakers, whom I do not know, and the surrounding lawns and grounds and driveways are always in first class condition.

As close to me as it is, within an easy stone throw, I had never set foot in the building, although I must admit that very often I wondered how it looked inside.  I have a history of studying the inside of churches.

My personal views of the church were always very private and from a distance (across the road actually).  From my bedroom window the view of the building and its surrounding well groomed grounds always appealed to my sense of what was beautiful, summer or winter.

A portable rental sign board, placed on the church lawn, announced that a concert of local musical aspirants were going to perform a special presentation on the eve of Halloween.  These participants were all local folks, non professional, but very much inclined to spend much of their spare time practicing and perfecting their ability on certain musical instruments they loved and wished to enjoy playing.

I couldn’t resist.

Their many —fantastic— all you could eat—suppers of spaghetti, chili, turkey and Irish stew could never interest me to attend, though I had heard the food was terrific.  But a musical evening by local people was too fascinating an invitation for me to resist.

So I went, sat down, and prepared myself to be interested in my neighbors’ talents.

There was a lady soprano (sang off key) that I knew from the local post office.  She sang, almost very well.  Then that very lady’s daughter did a very enjoyable tap-dance routine.  Of course, being in the country, there were a few country singers overpowering themselves with the loud sounds of their guitars.  They all sang with their eyes closed and with facial expressions as if they were in terrible pain.

There was a piano up there on the stage, but nobody played it. Several more acts proceeded; then it was announced that the next performer apologized because his piano accompanist unfortunately did not show up, but he would, in any case,  do his best not to disappoint his audience, and would attempt to  entertain us by playing some of our favorite songs, on his violin, sans piano accompaniment.

Well, this very elderly, small rotund gentleman began to play.  Astonishingly his instrument wasn’t like the regular violins you usually see, or hear.  He loved violin and along the way apparently decided to treat himself to a new and modern electric violin which he had read about in Popular Mechanics.

He played so well. The strange little new instrument had a rather appealing sound to it when he played, which I knew would be so much more inviting and even thrilling if only he had his piano accompanist there to support him. His renditions were very interesting and quite enjoyable.

Then came the intermission, with hot apple cider and molasses cookies.


During the intermission the library lady approached me and said, “Didn’t you find Harold’s electric fiddle exciting?  It would have been so much more exciting with the piano behind him.   I know you play piano, would you volunteer to go up there and help him out?”

Well, I almost took her comment as a friendly and casual joke, but it was more of an imploring dare, or an invitation.  But it turned out that it was actually a genuine invitation and secretly requested behind the scenes by Harold himself.   He saw me in the audience and knew a little about me, and thought things would be better if I could back him up there on the stage.

How dangerous could this challenge requested of me be?  A very small town, with a very limited and formally matured audience to the well rehearsed audiences of the big city stages?

Harold and I spoke for a few moments.  He was so unexpectedly knowledgeable.  We got along immediately and understood exactly what we should attempt to do together.

We appeared.  We performed.  The little electric violin came out with sounds like in the Vienna Opera House. (well, almost).

What a performance!

No credit to me.

It was all Harold and his magic little electric violin.


I always love looking out my window at that beautiful church knowing that I once played there.

Thanks to Harold and his magic little plugged-in Stradivarius.


Lauriate Roly